Why I Bought It: Breguet Classique Chronométrie Reference 7727
One of the great things about the way that my colleagues Elizabeth and Ian run things here at Quill & Pad is that there is a plan: after some consultation, we establish a clear calendar of upcoming articles and publication dates.
Sometimes, though, it is possible to be overtaken by events that require redirection! This article is about one such (in this case, very happy) disruption to our carefully crafted schedule: my recent purchase of the lovely Breguet Classique Chronométrie Reference 7727.
Why I Bought It
I’m now several articles into my ongoing “Why I Bought It” series, and in each case I’ve attempted to fit my highlighted purchase into a carefully constructed taxonomy: each watch in a collection should either be intended as a fun watch, patronage purchase, investment piece, or carefully-considered combination. See Why You Can’t Afford to Buy Your Watch If You Can’t Afford to Break It for more on this taxonomy.
Well, I have to confess that this one was more or less an impulse purchase; hey, you can’t be ultra-logical all the time!
Upon deeper reflection, however, there were a number of driving forces behind my purchase, each of which involved a special person.
* My good friend Jeff, a Breguet fanatic who has been pointing out the glories of Breguet to our local collector group for years. He both loves, and bought for himself, a Reference 7727. In that sense, this is a “buddy watch”: bought in solidarity with another enthusiast and for the sense of connection it delivers.
* Another good friend, Kevin, a noted watch enthusiast and collector from Singapore who hosted me during my recent visit to the island city-state. Our visit to a prominent authorized dealer there allowed me to see the Reference 7727 in person for the first time as well as to consume more than one glass of the quite tasty Cristal 2006 vintage champagne that Kevin and his friends have stored at the dealer for special occasions.
Between the watch itself, Kevin’s persuasive powers, the courtesy extended by the dealer, and the bracing effects of the Cristal, a purchase was pretty much assured. Oh – Kevin is also going to be taking delivery of a Reference 7727 in white gold. Can you say “double buddy watch?”
* Finally, there is Christian Lattmann, head of Breguet’s technical bureau. Christian was our very gracious host during a 2012 visit to the Breguet manufacture. Among other things, once he sensed our passionate interest he invited us into the high complications skunk works at Breguet for a private showing of the stunning Marie Antoinette re-creation. That’s the kind of generosity that makes one want to reward a brand with a meaningful purchase; for me it was just a matter of finding the Breguet watch that connected with me.
One more thing about our Breguet visit: during lunch, Christian mentioned that Breguet was going to be re-designing its deployant buckle and was kind enough to ask for our thoughts. During the discussion, I expressed great enthusiasm for the sort of asymmetric two-sided buckles used by Parmigiani and Vacheron Constantin on some watches.
Whether my input played a role or not, I can tell you that one major reason that I bought this watch was the absolutely fantastic deployant buckle that matched my desire and then went beyond in the quality of its implementation.
Why I Love It
Impulsive purchase or not, there is a great deal to love about this piece, starting with its dynamic sights and sounds. This is one watch that, as lovely as it is in static views, begs to be seen, and heard, in action.
For those of you who don’t know this watch, its major attribute is the exceptionally rapid oscillation of its balance wheel: 10 Hertz, which translates into 20 ticks per second, 72,000 ticks per hour.
As a result, the ticking sound of this movement is like nothing else: as you hold it to your ear, it’s difficult to imagine that a balance wheel can whip in one direction and then back the other way with such speed.
This rapid oscillation is shown visually in two ways on the dial of the watch; in the form of a smoothly moving small second hand and a whizzing two-second foudroyante hand, the latter made of lightweight silicon.
In a seeming paradox, it is precisely because the balance is vibrating so rapidly that even the two-second hand seems to move absolutely smoothly with no visible evidence that the movement is ticking at all.
All of this talk about the technical aspects of the watch brings me to the second big thing: the use of technology in a way that actually drives timekeeping performance. I’m a big stickler for timekeeping accuracy – I’m one of those who frequently checks his mechanical watch against the atomic clock – and I really admire how Breguet has used technology not for show, but for performance.
This all starts with a balance that is suspended between two magnets and is driven in its suspended state by two cantilevered balance springs with different mounting points; all the better to keep the balance centered and swinging freely.
To allow the use of magnets at all, the rest of the nearby moving parts had to be non-magnetic, resulting in the use of silicon components for the remainder of the escapement.
As a general rule, I’m not a big fan of silicon in watches, but here the need is evident and its use absolutely inspired in my view.
The important thing to me is that all of this high-mech gadgetry actually works: each Reference 7727 comes with a detailed chronograph timing report that, in addition to the usual positional accuracy measurements, shows the accuracy of the watch as it goes from a state of full wind to a completely unwound state.
For my watch, the range over this period of time was from +1 second a day to -1: not bad! It would be great if manufacturers of other watches who claim time-keeping technological advancements would provide the same sort of information.
From a cosmetic perspective, this watch is “very Breguet,” from the coin-edge case band to the deep blue Breguet losange hands to the solid gold, hand-guilloche dial. Even though this is a technologically advanced watch, it is still very much a Breguet.
No watch is perfect for everyone, or perhaps anyone; and especially as this was a bit of an impulse purchase, perhaps I’ll be forgiven for mentioning a few quibbles.
Even though I get (and very much like) the idea of this watch being a hybrid of classic design and modern technological wizardry, I’d feel a bit better about this watch if the dial side, in particular, leaned a little more toward the classic.
That triangular insert near 2 o’clock is the upper anchor for the magnetic pivot system, and its shape is meant to pay homage to the pare-chute shock absorption system developed by Abraham-Louis Breguet.
The problem is that the magnet, not the triangular support, is the key element here. The magnetic suspension system, while in concept an analogue to the pare-chute, is not an actual pare-chute. So, to me the triangular brace is a bit of an unnecessary frill.
There’s also the “10 Hz” label imprinted on the dial just below the brand name and watch serial number. While I’m pleased that this label is now a discreet grey rather than the bright red of the prototype watch, I could easily imagine living without it.
This label, while seemingly innocuous, has incited a storm of comments on the online forums: who knew that watch enthusiasts could build up such hatred over a small bit of ink? I’m not a hater when it comes to this label, but in the perfect world I could easily live with the small two-second foudroyante hand as the only quiet signal of the fantastic innovation behind the dial.
I do think, however, that there is room for improvement on the movement side of the watch. The plate and bridge spacing, while possibly necessary for functional reasons, strikes me as too tight and too function-drives-form, and the overall finishing quality strikes me as good-not-great.
And as far as I am concerned there are too many words, numbers, and dates visible on the movement.
There’s also the issue of consistency. It’s nice that the brand name is hand-engraved on the movement, but that lovely engraving stands in contrast (in both technique and actual color as seen by the eye) to the stamped caliber number and laser-etched wording trumpeting the magnetic pivots and six-position adjustment.
Is It for You?
I bought it, but is this watch right for you? You might want to consider it if:
* You have been attracted to Breguet but so far have lacked a differentiating feature that drove you over the edge to add one to your collection
* The idea of “classic high-tech” appeals to you or you love the technical advances of this watch on their own merits
* You are a dyed-in-the-wool Breguet fan and see this watch as an essential landmark in the brand’s evolution
On the other hand, you should probably pass if:
* You are a firm traditionalist opposed to the use of novel materials in watchmaking
* You would rather have the Breguet 10 Hz movement in a more sporting watch such as the Transatlantique Type XXII Flyback
* Small styling choices such as the dial-side visual cues and multiple movement decoration methods bother you and would keep you from enjoying this splendid watch
Case: white gold and rose gold; 41 x 9.65 mm
Movement: manual winding Caliber 574DR with magnetic balance pivots and twin silicon balance springs; 60-hour power reserve; frequency 72,000 vibrations per hour (10 Hertz)
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds, two-second foudroyante; power reserve display