Of all the watches covered thus far, this Breguet is arguably the most impressive innovation in Minute Repeater history, to make it to Baselworld 2015.
Over the years, Breguet has introduced many chiming watches in which innovations improved the sound. This year the company’s technicians have taken an original approach with the Tradition 7087. This timepiece is presented in a completely new light, both in terms of approach and result. Using simulations they first synthesised about a hundred thousand sounds, which they classified into categories according to psychoacoustic criteria. These sounds were listened to and evaluated to identify the two desired notes with the aim of revolutionising sound perception by modern harmonies and tuning. The construction of the timepiece was then undertaken to reproduce the selected sound mechanically.
This unprecedented approach determined the choice of every aspect of the watch, the innovations inherent in the shape of the components and the materials used for decoration. The brand’s characteristic styling was therefore carefully planned so as not to interfere with the desired sound. The gong springs, invented in 1783 by Abraham-Louis Breguet to become the essential components of a minute-repeater, have been entirely reworked and attached to the bezel to favour the transmission of vibrations.
This innovation results in improved sound emission, particularly at low frequencies. While the exterior parts of the watch generally transmit mostly the higher frequencies, the radiating bezel offers a wider range with several frequencies below 4,000Hz. Unlike many minute-repeaters in which the travel of the hammers is parallel to the movement of the watch, this Breguet Tradition 7087 has hammers that strike vertically from the movement towards the bezel. Thanks to this technique, the mechanical vibrations are very efficiently transformed into sound waves. The hammers entailed a supplementary innovation that has been patented: a semi-active buffer. Minute-repeaters usually have a buffer spring to prevent the vibrating gongs from being struck twice. However, because the buffer spring comes into play before the hammer strikes the gong it partially reduces the hammer’s force. The company’s watchmakers have therefore invented a so-called semi-active buffer that maximises the hammer’s energy while eliminating the risk of a double strike caused by the vibration. To achieve this they devised an articulated damper that is synchronised with the strike of the hammer, which is immediately pulled back by a spring.
In addition to all these innovations is the use of a magnetic governor in this Tradition Répétition Minutes Tourbillon model, as was the case in the Classique La Musicale watch. Unlike a traditional governor, this patented system consists of silver weights passing beneath magnets and slowed down by magnetic fields. An adjustment spring allows the magnets to be moved closer to or farther from the magnetic field. The noise is thus reduced and wear avoided, while the speed is kept constant to maintain the strikes at a steady rhythm however many they may be. Although it’s essentially the same system as that in the Classique La Musicale model, this magnetic governor has been the subject of much calculation and optimisation to adapt it to the minute-repeating mechanism. This innovative device can be seen on the dial side through the sapphire-crystal glass.
Beyond its unusual technical features, this Tradition 7087 watch is made as a tribute to the company’s long history, which is why it is naturally endowed with a tourbillon. This emblematic compensation device, invented by Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1801, has made a lasting impact on horological history by preserving the regulating organ from the perils of gravity. But the Tradition 7087’s real compliment to the pocket-repeaters of old is the bayonet pusher to activate the striking mechanism. After releasing the pusher by slightly unscrewing it, the user will be careful to lock it by screwing it in again. Thereafter a simple press will be enough to trigger the audible mechanism. And finally the transmission from the barrel for the strike to the minute-repeater is by chain, as in the old pocket-watches, notably the N°160 watch made for the queen of France, Marie-Antoinette. Apart from the many innovations improving its acoustic qualities, this watch incorporates other already proven developments. In particular, this self-winding timepiece is fitted with a peripheral rotor. While this system was originally invented to save space, it was selected in this case to make the movement perfectly visible and to maintain the stylistic coherence of the Tradition collection. It is also equipped with the high-energy barrel, which first appeared in reference 5277 and 5377. Finally, this model has a silicon Breguet spring, an invention that is increasingly available in the company’s watch models. To sum up, the Tradition Répétition Minutes Tourbillon is the fruit of entirely unprecedented research that brought together all the company’s latest innovations. This novel and pioneering approach enabled Breguet to design a product that has exceptional purity of sound and an original tone.
Case in 18-carat rose gold with delicately fluted caseband. Double-paned sapphire-crystal caseback. 44mm diameter. Welded lugs with screw bars.
Dial in silvered 18-carat gold, engine-turned and offset at 1:30. Individually numbered and signed Breguet. Hours chapter with Roman numerals. Breguet open-tipped hands in blued steel.
Self-winding movement with minute-repeater and 60second tourbillon at 6 o’clock. Numbered and signed Breguet. Titanium baseplate and bridges. Cal. 565DR. 16 lignes, 60 jewels. Magnetic strike governor. 80 hours power reserve indicator in an aperture at 12 o’clock. Bi-directional platinum winding rotor on the periphery of the movement. Tourbillon bridge in titanium. Inverted lateral lever escapement with silicon pallets. Breguet balance-wheel on a Breguet silicon spring. Balance frequency 4Hz. Adjusted in six positions.
Also available in 18-carat white gold