BLADE OF GLORY
Breguet’s Tradition 7077 features a groundbreaking independent chronograph system.
WITHIN THE BLINK of an eye, a decade has flown by since Breguet debuted its Tradition 7027, a watch that brazenly displayed the mechanics of its movement above the mainplate. That it went on to inspire other independent watchmakers such as MB&F and Manufacture Royale (in their Legacy Machines and 1770 Voltige, respectively) speaks volumes for the impact it had in the horological world.
The 7027’s extraordinary three-dimensional architecture comprises a central barrel; a dial at 12 o’clock with hour and minute hands driven directly by the barrel; and, in an arc stretching from four to eight o’clock, a large balance wheel and intermediate wheels. There was no need to mentally undress your watch—you could eyeball the oscillating balance wheel peeking out from under your shirt cuff, or directly observe the flow of power from the central barrel to the going train, to the in-line lever escapement.
Since then, the Tradition has evolved into a full-fledged collection, complete with complications such as a second time zone (model 7067) and power reserve (model 7057). For this year’s 10th anniversary of the model, Breguet has pulled out all the stops, launching three new numbers to entice horophiles: the 7097 is equipped with a retrograde small seconds feature; the 7077 comes packed with a chronograph driven by a blade spring under tension; and the 7087 is kitted out with a features-rich minute repeater mechanism and peripheral winding rotor.
While both the 7087 and 7097 are impressive in their own right, our favourite is the 7077—the Tradition Chronographe Indépendant—and for a number of reasons. For one, we love our chronos. Secondly, the model takes this age-old complication to a whole new level. It boasts two separate trains—one for the hours and the minutes that is regulated by a 3hz (21,600vph) balance and equipped with a 50-hour power reserve; and the other for the chronograph, which has a 5hz (36,000vph) balance for extra precision.
In chronographs with a single train (i.e. the vast majority of chronos, apart from rare examples such as TAG Heuer’s MikrotourbillonS), activating the chronograph affects the train. However, the 7077 neatly side steps this problem because the two trains are completely disconnected from each other. This is vintage Breguet, who are always intent on improving the mechanics of their timepieces. We need only remember brand founder Abraham-Louis Breguet’s invention of the tourbillon to counter the effects of gravity, for instance.
The second train has been shaped in a way that it is able to transmit constant force to the chronograph. While in most cases a second train would require a second barrel, in the 7077, the energy required to fire up the chronograph comes from a flexed blade spring that is armed whenever the wearer zeroes the mechanism. This leaves the barrel free to supply energy exclusively to the timekeeping train.
In typical two-button chronos, the pushers are located at two and four o’clock. On the 7077, however, they are positioned at four and eight o’clock instead. The pusher at four o’clock starts the timing sequence, while the one at eight o’clock stops and resets the device. This zeroing action tenses the blade spring, storing enough energy for a 20-minute measurement, which is indicated by the counter at 10 o’clock. It’s a nifty trick that ensures a full charge the next time you start the stopwatch. Admittedly, 20 minutes is a little short, so we hope this might be extended in future iterations.
Another remarkable characteristic of the Tradition is its scrupulously symmetrical dial. This tradition—no pun intended—continues in the 7077. To maintain this harmonious configuration, the balance wheels had to be the same size despite their different frequencies. To achieve this, Breguet engineered the chronograph balance wheel in titanium, since using a denser metal like steel would have resulted in a smaller size.
Eagle-eyed horological enthusiasts will also notice the absence of a column-wheel. Instead, the watch employs an updated version of Abraham-Louis Breguet’s chronograph control mechanism, first used in his Ref. 4009 double-second observation timer of 1825.
Other nods to his historical innovations include the use of his pare-chute anti-shock devices and over-coiled hairspring, while aesthetic touches such as the coin-edge case, engine-turned guilloché dial in silvered gold and pomme hands bring back elements of a classical mien to honour the brand’s heritage.
Top: Traditon 7077.