BLADE OF GLORY

Breguet’s Tra­di­tion 7077 fea­tures a ground­break­ing in­de­pen­dent chrono­graph sys­tem.

Esquire Malaysia Watch Guide - - 10 Watches of 2015 - Words by Aaron De Silva

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.

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