SINGAPORE (June 25): Trust is a sacred thing, hard won and fragile, a privilege that has to be constantly defended. Abraham-Louis Breguet was one of the few horologists to publicly receive this distinction when he was given the official title of chronometer maker to the French Royal Navy, entrusted with keeping its men safe with his precise timekeeping instruments. This would be the making of the watchmaker’s enduring heritage because, two centuries later, his legacy in marine timepieces remains.

Main image, from L-R: Marine 5517, Marine Alarme Musicale 5547, Marine Chronographe 5527

Breguet cannot be accused of trading solely on its former glory, however. The brand remains true to its commitment to the maritime world that has embedded it in horological history. It recently partnered the Race for Water Foundation to support the Race for Water Odyssey in its crucial mission to raise awareness of ocean preservation and plastic pollution in a four-year-long undertaking that will provide scientists and decision-makers with the data needed to save humanity’s most precious resource.

In the meantime, Breguet continues to innovate in its field of expertise. Last year, it unveiled the masterpiece known as the Marine Équation Marchante, a machine of impressive complexity that forms the building block of its Baselworld 2018 novelties. Three new expressions join the Marine family, with titanium making its debut in this line.

Spearheading the new generation is the Marine 5517, a sublime expression of nautical inspiration designed with the seafarer in mind. From its predecessor, it inherits traits such as the reworked bracelet lugs and fluting and wave décor used to enliven the crown, now adorned with a wider B to mark the watchmaker.

Distinguishing this young model, however, is the introduction of the date at three o’clock, an insertion so elegant that it blends seamlessly into the hour track. Its proportions are a touch slimmer than those of the Roman numerals, enough to be legible without interrupting the harmony of the design. Also in the interests of readability are the luminescent accents on the faceted Breguet hands, while the central seconds hand wears a B, which corresponds with maritime signal flags.

Variations colour the 40mm model, which is available in white gold, rose gold and titanium. The faces of the former two bear an engine-tuned wave motif on the blue and silvered gold dials, respectively, to singularise their collection and inspiration from a distance. A further tribute to the sea is the use of titanium, selected for its sporty aesthetic and resistance to salt air and corrosion. This robust material is enhanced by the sunburst effect of its grey slate dial, executed in gold. At the heart of the Marine 5517 timepieces is the 777A calibre, each individually numbered, to provide the self-winding movement 55 hours of autonomy. Water resistance to a depth of up to 100m bolsters the specifications while the aesthetic is rounded off by leather straps in brown or blue, or a rubber strap for added athleticism.

No compilation of Breguet novelties would be complete without the mention of a chronograph. The brand’s founder is credited with numerous watchmaking innovations; in addition to the tourbillon and its celebrated pare-chute shock protection device, he is also affiliated with the split-seconds chronograph, producing timepieces equipped with a seconds hand that could be started and stopped on demand before 1810, as well as inventing an ingenuous inking system hailed as the undisputed ancestor of the split-seconds chronograph.

The Breguet Marine Chronographe 5527 is a 42.3mm statement piece endowed with the new-generation graphic codes introduced in last year’s Marine models. A central chronograph measures time in a subtle marine-detailed setting, while two sub-counters at three o’clock and six o’clock track minutes and hours, respectively. The small seconds is indicated at nine o’clock, and nestled in between four o’clock and five o’clock is the date window. Assertive Roman numerals skim the clean hours chapter, pointed at by faceted Breguet hands. The self-winding calibre 582QA is numbered and signed, providing a 48- hour power reserve.

Once again, variety informs the palette with pieces available in 18-carat white gold, 18-carat rose gold and titanium. The white-gold version hosts a blue dial decorated with engine-turned waves, a motif repeated on the silvered gold dial of the rosegold iteration. The titanium model keeps its slate-grey dial clean to show off a meticulous sunburst effect. Flexibility extends to the straps, with leather and rubber options available.

Concluding the Marine series is a timepiece of especial excellence, boasting a trifecta of complications. The Marine Alarme Musicale 5547 syndicates alarm, date and second time zone functions within the self-winding calibre 519F/1. The alarm enchants with its clever playfulness — when the striking mechanism is triggered, a ship’s bell appears in an aperture carved beneath the Breguet stamp at 12 o’clock, bringing the nautical ethos to the fore. Function indications of alarm and second time zone appear in two separate sub-dials at three o’clock and nine o’clock, respectively. In the interests of not cluttering the dial, the striking mechanism’s power reserve is discreetly denoted via diamond-shaped indicators set between nine o’clock and 12 o’clock, pointed at by a subtle stub-capped hand. The date display sits in the south.

Luminescent hands and markings guarantee legibility across the white-gold case with blue dial, rose-gold model with silvered dial, and titanium case with a slate-grey dial. The former two bear the wave patterns that have come to define the collection while the titanium version again uses a sunburst effect to showcase the vigour of the material. Leather or rubber straps link the lugs and fulfil the sporty aesthetic.

Petrina Fernandez is a senior writer of Options at The Edge Malaysia