IN­TEL­LI­GI­BLE LIFE

Breguet’s Ref­er­ence 3797 teems with use­ful in­for­ma­tion, yet the dis­play is sur­pris­ingly easy to de­ci­pher.

Esquire Malaysia Watch Guide - - Contents - Words by Aaron De Silva

Slim and easy to un- code an­nual cal­en­dar with tour­bil­lon by Breguet Clas­sique Ref 3797.

ON ANY GIVEN DAY, we’re in­un­dated with a bar­rage of in­for­ma­tion. Fluc­tu­a­tions in the stock mar­ket, new fis­cal/ le­gal/gov­ern­ment poli­cies, the lat­est in of­fice pol­i­tics. Oh, and then there’s that thing called work, with its in­her­ent glut of data. It’s enough to make one want to re­treat to an ashram and live out an as­cetic life. But in this era of in­for­ma­tion over­load, all it takes is some care­ful plan­ning, and the abil­ity to sieve out non-es­sen­tial info.

Mind­ful of the fact that its cus­tomers in all like­li­hood lead hec­tic lives, Breguet’s new ref­er­ence 3797, a per­pet­ual cal­en­dar watch with tour­bil­lon reg­u­la­tor, of­fers a well-thought-out, in­tu­itive dis­play of the in­di­ca­tions, much like how Ap­ple’s iOS for­mat presents the vast uni­verse of apps in a man­age­able way. In so do­ing, Breguet ups the ante on other per­pet­ual cal­en­dars on the mar­ket.

Housed in an 18K pink gold case mea­sur­ing 41mm, Ref. 3797 packs in reg­u­lar time­keep­ing func­tions ( hours, min­utes, seconds), cal­en­dar dis­plays (day, date, month and leap year), plus a tour­bil­lon car­riage, all on a sin­gle dial. In the hands of a lesser man­u­fac­ture, it could have turned out more com­pli­cated than a map of the Tokyo Metro su­per­im­posed with that of the London Un­der­ground. But here the dis­plays are sur­pris­ingly easy to read, and all in­for­ma­tion can be gleaned within seconds of glanc­ing at the watch.

To achieve this, Breguet de­signed a multi-lay­ered dial, with the hours and min­utes chap­ter ring (on a sap­phire disc) hoisted clear above the other dis­plays—ret­ro­grade date at 12 o’clock, month and leap year at 3 o’clock, and day-of-the-week at 9 o’clock. Like a fly­over ris­ing above the tan­gled web of ex­press­ways, the sap­phire chap­ter ring ap­pears to hover in mid-air, lend­ing light­ness to the whole set­ting. Note the at­ten­tion to de­tail: the ret­ro­grade date hand passes un­der the chap­ter ring so as not to de­tract from the hours and min­utes in­di­ca­tion.

To vis­ually bal­ance the con­fig­u­ra­tion, the dial plate gives way to a cav­ity at 6 o’clock, in which the open­worked tour­bil­lon car­riage is set. Beat­ing at a clas­si­cal rate of 18,000 vph (2.5hz), the tour­bil­lon and its triple-hand in­di­ca­tor ro­tates in one-minute in­ter­vals and of­fers watch lovers the chance to ad­mire its el­e­gant bal­let­ics, deftly sus­pended by a ta­per­ing bridge. For aes­thetes, there’s also the mul­ti­ple guil­loche work around the dial to take in, such as en­gine-turned hobnail pat­tern at the cen­tre, or the shim­mer­ing sun­burst mo­tif at 3 o’clock. Along with the tour­bil­lon, they hint at Breguet’s undis­puted mas­tery of tra­di­tional watch­mak­ing arts.

Fur­ther proof of this vir­tu­os­ity is ev­i­dent through the sap­phire case back, where the man­u­fac­ture presents an elab­o­rately en­graved base­plate that con­ceals three-quarters of the move­ment (Cal­i­bre 558 QP2), with only the re­verse of the tour­bil­lon and some gear­ing vis­i­ble. It’s almost as if Breguet de­cided it didn’t even need to show off what it could have done.

Or maybe that ex­quis­ite plea­sure is re­served for the 950 plat­inum edi­tion, a fully skele­tonised ver­sion that ex­poses the watch’s ex­traor­di­nar­ily in­tri­cate in­nards. Skeletonising a move­ment poses two ma­jor dif­fi­cul­ties: one, struc­tural in­tegrity has to be main­tained in spite of the min­i­mal­ist frame­work; and two, the re­sul­tant frame­work has to be aes­thet­i­cally ap­peal­ing, which in­volves care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion of the lay­out of move­ment com­po­nents. As a mar­que at the top of its game, Breguet nat­u­rally made this seem ef­fort­less, en­dow­ing the move­ment bridges with lace-like en­grav­ings that give it even more of an ethe­real sen­si­bil­ity. Of course this also adds a level of visual com­plex­ity that might prove too much for some. In which case, the pink gold ver­sion makes a bet­ter op­tion.

Top: Breguet Clas­sique Ref: 3797 in pink gold.

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