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Back in time

Audrey Simon
Audrey Simon6/26/2019 12:19 PM GMT+08  • 5 min read
Back in time
SINGAPORE (June 26): June 26 has been dedicated by luxury watchmaker Breguet as "Tourbillon Day".
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SINGAPORE (June 26): June 26 has been dedicated by luxury watchmaker Breguet as "Tourbillon Day".

It was in 1801 when Abraham-Louis Breguet, who is credited as the father of tourbillion, patented the mechanism, a good 10 years after he started working on it.

Since then, the patent has become the blueprint for watchmakers to follow.

The invention came about at a time when men carried pocket watches which were stored vertically in their waistcoat. However, storing it this way affected the watch’s mechanism and Breguet wanted to find a way to negate the effects of the earth’s attraction on the workings of the oscillator. To do this, he set about to improve the chronometric accuracy of the movement.

Then the idea hit him to incorporate the balance wheel and spring as well as the escapement (lever and escape wheel) in a mobile case rotating on itself. Breguet named the the double rotation of the cage and its parts "tourbillon" in reference to the notion of a planetary system.

Today, watch enthusiasts can celebrate Tourbillon day with Breguet’s offering, Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat Squelette 5395. Breguet has opted for an extra-thin 581 caliber three-millimeter skeleton for this tourbillon movement. This is an undertaking that is as much technical as it is artistic, with an emphasis on craftsmanship. The House of Breguet has removed almost 50% of the material from this movement, without compromising any accuracy.

For this model, Breguet has forged the movement plate and bridges out of an 18-carat gold alloy. Despite its complexity in the manufacturing and assembly process, gold offers many technical advantages as it is a hard enough material, more resistant for a skeleton movement, extremely durable and perfectly suited for manual finishing.

Add to this hand-crafted engraving, engine-turning, and anglage and Breguet has created something truly outstanding.

Six questions with Thierry Esslinger, CEO of Montres Breguet

Tourbillon Day will be held in all around the world this week. Why is it important to celebrate this day?

On June 26, 1801, Abraham-Louis Breguet invented the tourbillon, a revolutionary invention and an important milestone in the watchmaking industry. Such a mechanical discovery embodies A.-L. Breguet’s innovative spirit and his endless quest of improvement. He is an inspiration that still drives watchmakers at Breguet today in the way they conceive our timekeepers, by integrating new technical innovations and paying tribute to the traditional watchmaking crafts.

Breguet has been around a long time and yet it is still relevant today. Why is that?

I believe that Breguet is more than a brand that was founded in 1775. Celebrated over more than 240 years, its timepieces evolved to address the ever-changing needs of societies with a strong focus on research and development. To me, this is the strength of the Manufacture: keeping on innovating while paying its respects to the roots of watchmaking. When you have a closer look at our collections, each and every product is an elegant combination of historical references and latest innovations by Breguet. This is a key factor for remaining a viable and dynamic brand.

What are you doing to attract younger customers?

And precisely younger people are very keen on discovering timepieces which are able to bring dreams, design and technique together as far as they can bear witness of authenticity. This seems to be a way for them to remain in contact with the reality and beauty of the world, in their quest of a better, safer and more stable world, beside all the virtual aspects and needs of their everyday life.

In your own words, can you sum up what this year’s novelties are about?

To sum up, as you can see, this year we chose to give priority to ladies’ models.

If there is one Breguet timepiece that surpasses expectations what would it be?

Beside the Marie-Antoinette model, all Breguet timepieces have a potential to surpass expectations in their respective categories and collections. It is very difficult to identify the most challenging or demanding model of Breguet. Personally, my favorite watch remains the Classique Double Tourbillon 5347. But this is purely my own opinion.

Where do you see Breguet’s position today and where do you think it is heading in the future?

Breguet is a timeless choice for watch lovers. Our goal is to maintain the very challenging course of our predecessors while meeting the expectations of the future generations.

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