Baselworld, the planet’s best-known annual watch and jewellery show, can be counted upon to throw up spellbinding new timepieces fit to make horologists salivate. This year was no different, and included Breguet’s revamped Marine collection, reimagined in a less formal look and possibly targeting a younger generation of patrons.
Breguet started life as a French watch company in the late 18th century. Queen Marie-Antoinette, Napoleon Bonaparte, Queen Victoria, Winston Churchill and Arthur Rubinstein have been among their more distinguished clients, and they were also once watchmakers for the French Royal Navy. The company changed hands many times, shifting from France to Switzerland, till, in 1999, were acquired by the Swiss watchmakers Swatch Group, to continue life as Swatch’s high-end luxury brand.
Breguet’s naval history makes their Marine collection one of the most recognised timepieces of this brand. Last year, they introduced the magnificent Marine Équation Marchante, encased in platinum or rose gold, with a sapphire crystal case, gold dial, a running solar hand with a facetted golden sun, and horological complications of a running equation of time (the difference between true solar time and mean solar time because of the earth’s elliptical orbit), perpetual calendar, tourbillon and 80-hour power reserve.
This year at Baselworld, a new line of Marine timepieces were introduced with the same mechanical self-winding movements, silicon balance springs and gold dials, but redesigned with a new simpler and sportier look, available in rose gold with a silvered dial, white gold with blue dial, and, for the first time, in titanium with slate grey dial.
The dials of the white and blue gold models have a guilloche wave pattern harking to the marine theme, while the titanium model features a sunburst surface.
The 40mm Marine 5517 is a three-hand model with a date display at 3 o’clock. The hours, in Roman numerals, and minutes markings are luminescent. An oscillating weight inspired by a ship’s rudder and the caseback decoration similar to a boat deck design finish off the design. The Marine Chronographe 5527, with a 42.3mm case, comes with subdials for hours, minutes and seconds, and a date indication.
Finally, the 40mm Marine Alarme Musicale 5547, no marks for guessing, is equipped with an alarm, plus complications for a second time zone and date. The alarm comprises a ship’s bell in an opening under the 12 o’clock. All models feature the iconic “Breguet hands”, the hollow moon-tip watch hands that are symbolic of the brand. They also have seconds hands bearing a stylised “B” similar to a maritime signal flag, and are water resistant, up to 100m for the 5517 and 5527, and 50m for the high-end alarm model.
Aimed a younger, trendier audience, they offer the option of rubber or alligator leather straps. The new Marine models also see a price cut, though “cheaper” is a relative term when speaking of luxury mechanical watches. Prices start at $18,500 for the platinum version of the 5517, going up to $40,900 for the 5547 in white and rose gold.