Breguet Marine: A Great Bracelet Makes A Big Difference
by Martin Green
Bracelets count among the most underappreciated watch components. They are often taken for granted, yet designing and crafting a good one comes with considerable challenges – especially if it’s to look original.
Putting aside watches with an integrated bracelet, as these are a somewhat different story, the main task of any designer seems to be to ensure that the bracelet matches the look and feel of the watch itself, preferably amplifying it. But that is only the beginning.
The bracelet also plays an essential part in the overall wearing comfort of the watch. It can make or break it. With this in mind, the designer also has to consider that people have varying wrist sizes and the bracelet has to be comfortable on all of them.
The clasp is equally important, and here it is up to the brand to choose a more generic solution, design one of its own, or use an existing one.
That by itself is already a lot to consider, but what many also don’t realize is the complexity of the production process. Even a more generic, not too complex bracelet consists of many different parts that all need to be made and put together. The higher the price of the watch, the more manual labor is put into this, and the more time and attention is paid to the (hand) finishing.
I still remember vividly visiting the Piaget manufacture and witnessing a woman making a bracelet with nothing more than gold wire, a pair of pliers, and a soldering iron.
The pressure is on
A good bracelet is essential for a sports watch. Yes, many appreciate leather and rubber straps, but the demand for metal around the wrist remains strong. This is also why in 2019 Breguet added a titanium bracelet as an option to its Marine collection, followed in 2020 by pink and white gold variations.
With this, Breguet also honors a tradition as so far all generations of the Marine have been available with a bracelet. With the current generation, Breguet has found a good balance.
In the first-generation Marine, which was at its peak in the 1990s, elegance ruled supreme, while the following generation was rather bold and avant-garde for Breguet. The newest generation mellows that all a bit down without losing touch with the past.
This doesn’t make it any easier to create a bracelet, though: a suitable bracelet adds something to the design of the watch but doesn’t take center stage. It should blend as harmoniously as possible with the case and dial.
Breguet succeeded in this by opting for a traditional three-link style. This is quite a departure from the previous Marine collection’s bracelets as these often featured rather intricate designs. The risk Breguet took with the new design was that it might look generic.
While that is not much of a problem with lower-priced watches, for Breguet generic must be avoided at all costs. Breguet cleverly overcame this by first giving the bracelet links a slightly angular look, which matches perfectly with the design of the Marine lugs.
Additionally, Breguet’s designers invested a lot of time and effort in the only thing that can genuinely set apart a great bracelet from a good one: the finishing. Polished and brushed surfaces alternate with each other in such a way that there is a lot of play of light, yet when you look at the watch its sporty character is uncompromised.
Comfort reigns supreme
Breguet also didn’t take any shortcuts when it comes to wearing comfort. While the links look rather solid, they aren’t too large, ensuring that they also nicely follow the shape of smaller wrists. Smaller links are also available, allowing the length to fit most people very comfortably.
A micro adjustment similar to the Rolex Glidelock is absent. This is a pity, but only because it would have made the bracelet even more perfect. Each link is secured from the back by a small screw, a testimony to the more complex architecture of the bracelet.
The clasp itself is hidden, operated by a pusher on each side of the link with the Breguet logo. It works rather nicely altogether, and while it lacks micro adjustment, I find the wearing comfort rather good, only to be surpassed by the exceptional fine finish of the bracelet.
Breguet launched this bracelet initially for the titanium Marine models, adding white and pink gold options a year later. All three are equally fine, and the only noticeable differences between them are their color and weight.
They fit on the Marine 5517, Marine Chronographe 5527, and Marine Alarme Musicale 5547, looking equally good on each of them but greatly differing in character. The bracelet takes on a rather technical appearance with the titanium models, amplified by the slate-grey dial with sunburst motif that comes with these watches.
The white gold has a much softer tone: Breguet knows how to work very well with this material, giving it an almost velvet-like shine. My favorite variation is the pink gold Marine on a bracelet. Gold is somewhat of an oxymoron in a sports watch, but I always like the matte look of this precious metal. It gives the watch even more character, in particular in combination with the beautiful silver dial with wave guilloche motif.
While I already liked the latest generation of the Breguet Marine when it was launched in 2018, I think that these watches have only become better with bracelets now available for all of them. Despite missing the option for micro adjustment, the style, fit, and finish of these bracelets are most certainly up to par.
Even more importantly, they truly become one with the watches they are made for while maintaining enough character and originality to stand their ground.
Slam dunk for Breguet?
So is the bracelet a slam dunk for the Breguet Marine? Not quite as for me they lose ground in the additional price one must pay for the gold bracelets. Take for example the Marine Chronographe 5527 in white gold: its current retail price on a rubber strap is €33,200. By adding a white gold bracelet, the price goes up to €55,300.
That is quite a substantial amount, especially when you consider that €23,700 already buys you the Marine Chronograph 5527 in titanium . . . on a bracelet! It is also interesting to note that if you buy the Marine 5517 or Marine Alarme Musicale 5547, adding the bracelet will “only” cost you an additional €20,100.
Yes, there’s the weight and inherent value of the gold, but it is still a hefty increase in price. One could argue that at this level of the market, when people want something they simply get it. However, I feel that even if they have money to spare, most clients spend it carefully.
In terms of competition, the Breguet Marine is a bit difficult to compare to other timepieces as this product category is an emotional one; one brand cannot be simply swapped for another, and there are no “bargains” at this end of the market.
But for the sake of comparison, let’s take the Marine Chronographe 5527 in white gold and see how other gold chronographs measure against it in terms of price. A white gold Rolex Daytona on a white gold bracelet will set you back €37,400. That is, if you can get your hands on one.
Vacheron Constantin also comes to mind at €48,800 for its Overseas Chronograph. For that princely sum of money, however, you get the red gold model but no bracelet.
Omega recently added gold Speedmaster Professional models to its collection. The price of this watch in red Sedna gold is €34,600, very much aligned with the Rolex Daytona’s pricing. If you want it in white Canopus gold, it will cost you €45,100, but for that amount you also get a more precious material as the remaining 25 percent of the alloy consists of palladium, platinum, and rhodium.
While there are a few other competitors, the ones mentioned above show that the price of a Breguet Marine on a gold bracelet is not as exorbitant as the premium you pay for just the bracelet might suggest.
Especially at this end of the market, emotion encourages collectors to pull the trigger on purchasing more than anything else. And if that is the case, then these Breguet Marines on bracelets should sell faster than a speeding bullet.
For more information, please visit www.breguet.com/en/timepieces/la-marine.
Quick Facts Breguet Marine 5517
Case: 40 mm, white gold, titanium, or pink gold
Movement: automatic Caliber 777A, 55-hour power reserve; lever escapement with silicon pallet fork and balance spring, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date
Price: €48,200 (pink and white gold on bracelet); €19,500 (titanium on bracelet)
Quick Facts Breguet Marine Chronographe 5527
Case: 42.3 mm, white gold, titanium, or pink gold
Movement: automatic Caliber 582QA, 48-hour power reserve; lever escapement with silicon pallet fork and balance spring, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, chronograph
Price: €55,300 (pink and white gold on bracelet); €23,700 (titanium on bracelet)
Quick Facts Breguet Marine Alarme Musicale 5547
Case: 40 mm, white gold, titanium, or pink gold
Movement: automatic Caliber 519F/1, 45-hour power reserve; lever escapement with silicon pallet fork and balance spring, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, second time zone, alarm, alarm power-reserve indicator, and alarm on/off indicator
Price: €59,200 (pink and white gold on bracelet)