For its new Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat Squelette 5395, Breguet has opted for an extra-thin three-millimeter thick skeleton design for its tourbillon movement. An undertaking that is as much technical as it is artistic with emphasis on craftsmanship, of which the watchmaker is at the forefront. There are objects whose intrinsic quality is a source of true wonder. The new Breguet Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat Squelette 5395 is undoubtedly one of those. The extreme finesse of its 581 caliber has already propelled Breguet to bold technical feats in its previous creations. The design of the tourbillon in particular had to be entirely rethought, which led to the creation of a unique architecture. Now the House of Breguet is going even further, removing almost 50 per cent of the material from this movement, without compromising the build. This skeleton design, within an 18-karat gold caliber that literally plays with the limits of what is possible, highlights the true craftsmanship of Breguet watchmakers. Engraving, engine-turning, and anglage add to this to create something truly outstanding.
An Extra-Thin Movement
The extra-thin 581 caliber is a masterpiece of watchmaking. With a thickness of three millimeters, it is one of the finest self-winding tourbillon movements in the world. A feat of technical craftsmanship that required a series of often complex adjustments. For instance, the rotor was placed on the periphery of the plate, saving on thickness while at the same time preserving a clear view of the mechanism. The tourbillon, for its part, has benefited from a complete redesign. The titanium carriage engages directly with the wheel train, not via the intermediary of a pinion at its base, and, what’s more, the silicon escapement has been given a distinct angled shape, something that considerably saves on space. A very unique structure, of which Breguet is the only series manufacturer.
Lightness and Transparency
Ultra-lightweight – the carriage weighs no more than 0.290 grams in total – and equipped with an outstanding power reserve of 80 hours thanks to a high-energy barrel beating at four hertz – a particularly high frequency for a tourbillon – this 581 caliber already featured in models 5377 and 5367. Here, for the first time, it has been incorporated in a fully skeletonized design, a contemporary interpretation of this ancestral technique. The gold plate and bridges have been hollowed out so as to display the mechanical anatomy of the movement. The challenge of this undertaking lies primarily in removing as much material as possible, while preserving the technical properties of the various different components. A truly novel watchmaking complication made even more challenging by the choice of gold. Once the chosen alloy has hardened, sophisticated expertise and care are needed to achieve the final result. Breguet is one of the last watchmakers to fashion gold to this standard.
What is unique about the movement, however, is its outstanding decoration and finishing – first of all, the hand-crafted engine-turning, or guilloche design, of the remaining plate surface. Clous de Paris hobnailing is created using a diamond-tipped guilloche tool here, a method that gives this work of art a distinct splendor but allows for no imperfections. This kind of work on an item like this is a first at Breguet. The sharp edges are painstakingly chamfered by hand, using a file until a perfectly smooth and even 45-degree bevel is created. Significant engraving work is then carried out by hand for different inscriptions as well as borders to frame the holes.
A Sophisticated and Minimalist Design
This masterpiece sits in a fluted case topped with a domed glass-box revealing the movement. The sapphire dial features applied hour markers in blued gold. The hours chapter is created using galvanic growth and the timer is laser-engraved and filled with blue varnish. Sophisticated and minimalist, this design is rounded off with traditional blued moon-tipped hands and soldered horns in the true Breguet style. Water-resistant to 30 meters, the Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat Squelette 5395 is available with a gray movement in a rose gold case, or with a rose movement in a platinum case.
The Tourbillon, a Breguet Masterpiece
It’s a one-off in the history of technical creations. More than 220 years after its invention, the tourbillon is still generating as much fascination as it did then and remains, now more than ever, Breguet’s main prerogative. Updated for modern times following its adaptation for wristwatches, its distinct and inalienable strength lies in the historical legitimacy of Breguet that gives it that extra touch of soul. Single or double, by itself or accompanied by sophisticated complications, fashioned from traditional or novel materials, the tourbillon has never been more alive than it is now. Nor has it ever been so closely associated with its inventor. Present in almost all collections and never weighing more than one gram, it bears testament to the extraordinary watchmaking mastery of the House of Breguet, the guardian of the myth.
The Origins of the Tourbillon
Abraham-Louis Breguet only sold 35 tourbillon watches in his lifetime. This confidential figure in itself hints at the extreme complexity involved in producing this unique mechanism. While patented in 1801, its development took no less than 10 years of experimentation and research in the years spanning from 1795 to 1805. At a time when timepieces were worn vertically on the body, the master watchmaker took great pains to devise a way of negating the effects of the earth’s attraction on the functioning of the oscillator and, on the basis of this, improving the chronometric accuracy of the movement. Then the idea came to him to incorporate the balance wheel and spring as well as the escapement (lever and escape wheel) in a mobile casing rotating on itself. Breguet devised the name “tourbillon” for the double rotation of this cage and its parts in reference to the long-forgotten notion of a planetary system rotating around a single axis. Fantastic in its design, captivating in its function, the invention has never ceased to command respect, right from when it was first presented to the present day.