Breguet Tradition Reference 7035: Scintillating With Snow-Set Diamonds
by Martin Green
Watch journalists spend a considerable amount of our time discussing fresh versions of existing watches. As the research and development of entirely new models take significant time and resources, most brands allow their creations to evolve by adding variations to the lines.
This allows the models to mature while maintaining public interest as the commercial side is, of course, why a brand makes watches. I always enjoy reviewing such watches as I have learned over the years that the best assessment of a timepiece often comes after the initial excitement wears off and I have had the time to let it sink in and get a deeper understanding.
Breguet Tradition 7035: a precious tradition
When Breguet introduced the Tradition collection in 2005, it took inspiration from Abraham-Louis Breguet’s souscription pocket watches made back when the famed watchmaker himself was still at the helm. This style he developed allowed Breguet to showcase a significant part of the movement on the dial side of the watch, and today this historic precedent allows the brand to forgo traditional skeletonization.
This has resulted in a unique collection instantly recognizable as Breguet with a lot going on on the dial side. No wonder that the Tradition collection became an instant success and was extended in 2016 with its first ladies’ watch, Reference 7038.
The new Reference 7035 is very much the same as the reference 7038, only more precious as Breguet has added even more diamonds to the mix.
The majority of these gemstones are placed on the movement, which in itself is rather challenging as the gemstones require cavities in the metal in which to set them. Taking away the metal is a meticulous job as cutting out too much would jeopardize the integrity of the movement and its functions.
So there are no shortcuts to the perfect result. The cavity of each gemstone has to be drilled by hand, leaving enough metal to carve the prongs securing the gemstone, a most delicate job with no room for error.
A precarious exercise
I feel that a brand needs to add more than just a bump to its the price when a watch is set with gemstones. Not only does the quality of the setting need to be exemplary, but the stones also need to add something extra to the design, in particular when it is based on an existing watch like Reference 7035.
Here Breguet cleverly opted for snow setting the diamonds. Pioneered by Jaeger-LeCoultre, the snow setting has been adopted by many brands due to its lively appearance. Mixing brilliant-cut diamonds of different sizes in a random-seeming pavé setting gives the impression of freshly fallen snow.
To make the most of snow setting requires large surfaces, which this Breguet lacks. However, this style of setting also creates a dynamic of fire and scintillation in smaller areas that can make it more enticing than an average pavé setting.
That is also precisely what has happened here: Breguet perfectly walked the thin line of setting enough stones but not too many. By, for instance, keeping the one-side bridges (called cocks in watch parlance) that hold two wheels at 6 o’clock bare, the “industrial” feel of the openworked movement remains intact. This is also supported by the bridges and cocks with visible screws, which are only partially set.
This way, the watch and the setting are not at odds with each other but find a strong sense of synergy.
Part of the appeal of the Reference 7038 is the ruby bearing jewels, which add a dash of color to the otherwise fairly monochrome movement. Breguet further plays with this theme by using rubies and sapphires in the same color scheme to outline the arc scale for retrograde seconds.
On Reference 7038, this scale is engraved on the main plate, but here the colored gemstones provide more of an approximate idea of the seconds. It also shows Breguet’s mastery of decoration as the brand only uses nine stones to represent this.
These nine stones not only differ in size but also in color, and each brings a challenge of its own. As the second hand follows an arc, the stones need to be placed accordingly. This requires the snow setting to accommodate the pink sapphires and rubies without showing distortion in its random-seeming pattern as that would diminish its effect.
In terms of color, getting a fluid gradient in just nine stones is not that easy. Breguet uses seven pink sapphires and two rubies, all in different hues, to accomplish just that.
Key qualities remain the same
While the gemstones add a substantial dash of glamour to this Breguet, its remaining qualities are the same as that of Reference 7038. Its pink gold case with fluted case band and welded lugs measures 37 mm in diameter, combining elegance with substance in that size and allowing it to make a statement without being overpowering. The pink gold provides a pleasant contrast with the colorless diamonds that also decorate the bezel and the center of the offset dial with a mother-of-pearl chapter ring.
The diameter of this Breguet also works well as the proportionate movement is in line with it. Caliber 505J winds itself automatically thanks to an oscillating weight on the back. The same flower motif found on the rotor is also on the spring barrel, which is visible in the middle of the watch at the front.
The inverted in-line lever escapement is fitted with silicon pallets, the same material from which Breguet crafts the balance spring. The added advantage of this over more conventional materials is that it is less susceptible to temperature fluctuations and magnetic interference. No lubrication is needed for the pallets either.
In truth, the silicon also adds a modern-day touch to a watch the old master himself must have appreciated.
For more information, please visit breguet.com/en/timepieces/new-models-tradition.
Quick Facts Breguet La Tradition Reference 7035
Case: 37 x 11.85 mm, pink gold set with 68 brilliant-cut diamonds (0.819 ct) and ruby in crown (0.16 ct)
Movement: automatic Caliber 505J, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency, power reserve of 50 hours, lever escapement with silicon pallet fork and balance spring, set with 190 brilliant-cut diamonds (0.456 ct), retrograde seconds indicated by 2 rubies and 7 pink sapphires (0.03 ct), offset dial set with 74 brilliant-cut diamonds (0.192 ct) and fitted with a mother-of-pearl chapter ring
Functions: hours, minutes, retrograde seconds
Limitation: 88 pieces, individually numbered