Talking about Breguet, if you only have extravagant, skeletonized and hand-guilloched pieces of art with sophisticated complications in mind, you should take yourself the time to dive deeper into the history of the Maison. This is deliberately meant to be understood in a double sense, because it’s the ‘Marine’ collection that is pretty much distinctive from the general image of Breguet. After all, Abraham-Louis Breguet was announced to be the official Chronometer-maker of the French Royal Navy in 1815, as his precise marine chronometer could convince king Ludwig XVIII.
An antique Breguet marine chronometer
However, we are not talking about deepsea heavyweights with helium valve and rotating bezel, but mainly about precise chronometers that mariners used on boats-decks for their navigation. Since 2004 however, the modern interpretations of these historical marine chronometers with their sporty design differ quite strongly from the general style of Breguet’s other collections like ‘Classique’, ‘Tradition’ or ‘Héritage’. But taking a closer look, you can also find equally sophisticated hand-made elements.
The Marine line is the sporty interpretation of a watch at Breguet
The sporty models are firmly anchored in the history of Breguet. Besides antique marine chronometers, Breguet even made pilots watches for the French department of defence in the 1950s: the ‘Type 20’, which people mainly know as ‘Type XX’ as a civil version. For this year’s Only Watch auction in November, Breguet even releases a one-piece version of this ‘Type 20’. It seems that sports watches become increasingly popular for the more than 240 years old Maison.
One of a kind – the Breguet Type 20 made for this years Only Watch auction 2019
All in all, the tracing for details of Breguet’s marine watches is certainly no tiering Odyssey, because the ‘Marine’ collection was launched only in 2004 with reference 5817. Breguet has revised this collection two years ago – now we have taken a closer look at three references from this collection: the Marine 5517, the Marine Chronographe 5527 and for the first time on this platform a ladies watch, the Marine Dame 9517 which has just been launched recently.
What’s new? Less technical but even more maritime features. To combine dynamism and modernity in a stylistic way, the lug-design of this line celebrates a premier at Breguet. They have been designed in order to offer more comfort on the wrist, especially during sporting activities. Besides new flutes and a crown surrounded by a wave décor and a wider ‘B’, the new generation adds a date display at 3 o’clock for the very first time. It might be very unusual for all Breguet nostalgic, that the ‘Pomme’ tip of the very traditional Breguet hands are coated with luminescent material, just as well as the Roman numerals and the minute markings. The first letter of the Maison ‘B’ is mounted on the counterweight of the seconds hand as a symbol for the maritime signal flag alphabet.
The new Marine models show new flutes and crown (left)
Breguet Marine 5517 in rose gold (right)
Customers can choose between white- or rose-gold, or even titanium. The latter always has a sunburst slate grey dial. More about this version later in this article. Both the gold version’s dials are hand-guilloched with a themed wave motif. Regardless whether silver-plated or not – all dials of the collection 5517 and 5527 are made of gold. The nautical exploration continues on the backside of the watches: the singular oscillating weight features a design inspired by a ship’s rudder and navigates its wearer through the time-sensible insanity of everyday life. The movement is engine-turned and reminiscent of boat decks. Regardless if ‘Marine’ or ‘Classique’, Breguet continues to be an expert of guillochage work. The marine models therefore also carry the signature of the many artisans inside the manufacture, that continue Breguet’s Savoir-Faire.
A ship’s rudder shaped rotor to navigate watch and wearer
Marine Chronograph 5527
Opinions differ whether it was the Parisian watchmaker Nicolas Rieussec or A.-L. Breguet and his genius student Fatton who invented the Chronograph with double seconds. It is recorded however, that this function was developed in the 1820s already and circulated with the name ‘Observationchronometer’. This mechanism allowed to measure the duration of two parallel running events. They were the precursors of modern rattrapante Chronographs.
Marine Chronographe 5527 in titanium (left)
Marine Chronographe 5527 in white gold (right)
All new details from the reference 5517, that we have discussed earlier in this article can also be found at the Chronograph reference 5527. An add on are the totalizers to display the different timekeeping information. The subdial at 3 o’clock shows the minutes and the subdial at 6 o’clock shows the hours. The small seconds is indicated at 9 o’clock.
But the biggest surprise on its launch in 2017 surely was the introduction of a titanium case – since this year, it also comes in an execution with a corresponding titanium bracelet. That is a complete novelty at Breguet, that already go out on a limb of traditional watchmaking with their new sports models, but break new ground with titanium. However, it sure makes sense taking into account that these watches are made for seafaring, where they are exposed to salty air and water and hence corrosion. Titanium of course is much more resistant than any precious metal.
Titanium agains corrosion – the Breguet Marine Chronographe 5527 with titanium case and bracelet
The reference 5527 is also available in titanium with a sunburst slate grey gold-dial. Furthermore, there is a version in 18k white gold with a blue dial in gold and a 18k rose gold version with a silvered gold dial. The rattrapante Chronograph is powered by the calibre 582QA with inverted in-line lever escapement and horns and balance spring in silicon.
Breguet Marine Chronographe 5527 in titanium
Both, reference 5517 and 5527 can be worn with either a leather or rubber strap. The titanium version is also available with a corresponding titanium case.
Marine Dame 9517 (Novelty 2019)
A.L. Breguet already made ladies watches in the 18th century. The new ‘Marine Dame’ collection is exciting in this respect, that it introduces a completely new guillochage pattern: ‘Marea’. Unlike a traditional guillochage consisting of straight lines or circles, ‘Marea’ reflects the flow of waves, that perfectly suits the maritime theme.
Breguet Marine Dame 9517
You can find this spectacle on the oscillating weight of the new models. It is made of 18 k gold, however, the motif has been finished on extremely fragile mother-of-pearl. But it’s much more about the decoration than about having a tough watch for rough voyages. The female version of the ‘Marine’ collection is rather made for the strolling lady on the pier.
In order not to lose sight of the time at nightfall, the tip of the ‘Pomme’ hands as well as the 5-minutes markers and indexes have been coated with strong luminescent material.
Breguet Marine Dame 9517
Depending on the model, there is a version with a dial in marbled blue lacquer or opaline mother-of-pearl. The bright volutes are reminiscent of the white-horses of the sea. To achieve this decor, the artisan applies a clear lacquer on the still liquid azure material. The sapphire-crystal caseback shows the self-winding 591A calibre and its bars decorated with double engine-turned côtes de Genève – again calling to mind a ship’s deck. The Marine Dame 9517 is worn on a blue leather- or rubber-strap, both available in white or blue.