The great thing about horology is that you never know when you’ll get hit straight on by a train running at full speed; and by that, I mean falling so unconditionally in love with a timepiece that the world around you stops when you strap the watch on your wrist. You might think that I am exaggerating — after all it’s just a watch — but take a moment to think about your own favorite watches and tell me you’ve not had a similar feeling. Maybe I’m not that crazy after all?
This experience happened to me recently when I entered the Breguet Flagship Boutique in Hong Kong. In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the boutique located at 1881 Heritage in Tsim Sha Tsui, I was shown a special edition of the Breguet Classique Grande Complication 5359 made only for the Hong Kong and Macau markets.
This model already exists in the brand’s catalogue but with a fully paved diamond dial made of 356 diamonds. The Hong Kong and Macau edition does away with the diamond dial and replaces it with a hand-engraved guilloché 18k gold dial showcasing a delicate motif made by master craftsmen of the Breguet manufacture. The one-minute tourbillon holds a large “B” which acts as the seconds hand and highlights the rhythm of the hand-wound caliber 558.1, which gives the watch 50 hours of power reserve. The case is 40.3mm in diameter and made of 18k white gold, and the bezel, lugs and caseband are paved with 134 baguette-cut diamonds while the crown is also set with a diamond. Flip the watch over and the sapphire caseback will let you admire the decorated movement.
Now that I have just told you the basics of the timepiece, let me tell you why I love this watch so much. I’ve found myself recently quite obsessed with diamond watches, and more specifically, ones with baguette-cut diamonds. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen too many iced-out watches on the wrists of celebrities sitting courtside at NBA games, but I think it’s a lot to do with the fact that, in the lead up to proposing to my long-time girlfriend, I’ve dug deep into the realm of diamonds. And so, as soon as I strapped the Breguet watch on my wrist I found myself hypnotized by the perfect balance of jewelry and watchmaking worlds that the timepiece brought together.
From the side, the rows of baguette-cut diamonds will bring out a side of you that you didn’t know existed, one who is comfortable showing off a bit of bling because you’ve earned it.
Looking at the watch straight on is all the classic attributes of a Breguet timepiece; the elegant and dressy aspect of the hand-engraved guilloché mixed with the technicality of Abraham-Louis Breguet’s invention, the tourbillon, are both signature elements of Breguet watches.
The last little detail which I love is something that you can find on many Breguet movements and it’s the “Brevet du 7 Messidor An 9” engraving. This refers to the 26th June 1801, which is the day when the patent or “Brevet” was granted to Breguet for the invention of the tourbillon. Why is it written as “7 Messidor An 9” you may ask, well the explanation is linked to the history of the French Revolution of 1789 and the subsequent proclamation of the French Republic in 1792. Wanting to distance itself from the previous royalist regime, the new government sought to create a French Republican calendar based on decimals where each day was divided into ten hours, each hour into 100 decimal minutes, and each decimal minute into 100 decimal seconds. There were 12 months, each with 30 days divided into three ten-day weeks. Messidor was the 10th month of the calendar, which was at the beginning of summer, and started on the 19th of June in today’s calendar. In summary, the date “7 Messidor An 9” works out to be the 26th June 1801. Let me tell you that this tidbit of information will for sure blow your guests away at a dinner table.
I’m always surprised at how timepieces can create so many emotions and hold so many links to history and craftsmanship. This Breguet watch is a reminder as to why I got into this business in the first place, and this is why it’s a watch that I love.