Breguet Classique 7787
Allow us to cut to the chase: Breguet has been on point with its new men’s watches this year. The brand has not only unveiled an uber-sophisticated equation of time showpiece, but also two absolutely charming variants of its two most classic watches. We are talking about the Classique 7147, which we have previously reviewed here, and the Classique 7787. Here, we will be shining the limelight (or perhaps moonlight?) on the new Classique 7787 before comparing it to similar watches from competing brands. We must confess that rarely are we this excited to talk about variants of existing products. But bear with us as we justify our contentment.
The case, dial, and hands
The case of the Breguet Classique 7787 is of classical proportions and design: 39 mm in diameter with the brand’s signature fluted caseband. The mirror-polished bezel is narrow – typical from Breguet and really accentuates the visual impact of the dial. Also a trademark of the brand are the straight welded lugs which don’t look flattering on some wrists but have become rather iconic. The Classique 7787 utilises screw-in bars to secure its alligator leather strap, the more ‘premium’ way to do it compared to spring bars. All in all, not much has changed with respect to the case and lugs of the new Classique 7787.
The same, however, cannot be said of the dial. The original (pre-2017) Classique 7787 featured Breguet’s signature clous de Paris dial, and an hour circle that is circular grained and printed with Roman numerals. 2017 sees the dial of this household timepiece significantly reworked. The new variant comes with a grand feu enamel dial. To create the enamel dial, enamel powder is humidified to form a paste called barbotine. The latter is then applied in successive layers to a metal disc repeatedly fired in a kiln heated to more than 800°C. This process continues until the dial has attained a radiant whiteness. Enamel dial-making is a rare craft today, and it is good to see it living on through the quintessential Classique 7787. Also new in the 2017 novelty are the black printed Breguet numerals that are so beloved amongst the watch cognoscenti, as well as the stylised fleur de lys hour markers and the asterisk minute track. The positions of the moon phase and power reserve indicators remain the same, although the aesthetics have been revised slightly. The moon phase indicator now displays the age of the moon, while the power reserve display is now decorated with small arrows. All these new elements appear very striking on white enamel and add unparalleled charm to the timepiece.
The hands on the new Classique 7787 remain unchanged from the old and that is a good thing, for they are gorgeous. We love the famous open-tipped hour and minute hands, as well as the long sweeping seconds and power reserve hand. They are all executed in heat-blued steel and contrast stunningly against the pristine enamel dial.
Inside the Classique 7787 beats the 217-part, 25-jewel Calibre 591 DRL. The self-winding movement has a 38-hour power reserve while operating at modern 4 Hz beat rate. Both the escapement and balance spring inside the Calibre 591 DRL are rendered in silicon, and therefore impervious to magnetism. The movement, which is well-finished and -decorated, can be viewed through a sapphire crystal display case back. One’s attention will immediately be drawn towards the barley corn guilloché motif on the winding rotor. The edges of the bridges feature polished chamfers which serve to highlight the Côtes de Genève on the top surface. All in all, the movement is finished traditionally and in accordance to the price point of the Classique 7787 – attractive but with no frills.
The competitive landscape
The Breguet Classique 7787 comes in white gold and rose gold at USD30,200 and USD29,700, respectively. In an era where a new dial colour is considered a novelty, it is refreshing to see Breguet introduce the new Classique 7787 with such significant, positive changes. The watch was designed so purposefully and intellectually that it speaks a different language to the old. It was not born out of a box-checking exercise. “Blue dial?”, “check”, “black dial?”, “check”, “diamonds?”, “check”. None of that. It has achieved a cleaner, dressier look via a re-imagined design concept while still maintaining the values and stylings of Breguet. The icing on top of the cake is that the original Classique 7787 remains part of the catalogue in spite of this new release. The clous de Paris dial design is, and will continue to be the brand’s signature – getting rid of it will not only deprive clients of options but also constitute a horological crime.
The 2017 Classique 7787 is somewhat unique given its no-date moon phase, age of the moon, power reserve and enamel dial combination. There aren’t any timepieces out there with identical features available for a straight-up comparison. However, we reckon it deserves a mention alongside the new A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Moon Phase. While the Classique 7787 has, well, classic design cues, the Lange 1 Moon Phase has more contemporary ones, what with its off-centre dial design and novel day/night indicator doubling as a backdrop for the gold moon. The Lange is also equipped with a power reserve indicator, seconds function and in addition, a big date. While the Breguet Classique 7787 is self-winding, the Lange 1 Moon Phase is hand-wound, its movement featuring a three-quarter plate architecture with twin mainspring barrels providing 72 hours of power reserve. You’ve probably heard of the superlative standard of finishing on Lange movements; the finishing on the Calibre L121.3 that powers the Lange 1 Moon Phase is no exception to the rule. Indeed the Calibre L121.3 features finishing that is far more detailed and elaborate than what is seen in the Classique’s Calibre 591 DRL. This, along with the added functionality of a day/night indicator and date, contributes to the Lange’s final price of USD42,430 – a USD12,000 premium over the Breguet. Are these extra perks worth USD12,000? We think so, especially with respect to finishing, an aspect that would’ve demanded greater man-hours and skill to accomplish. Does one watch provide better value than the other? We don’t think so. Between these two, it mainly comes down to design preference (traditional or contemporary) and budget.
The next contender that we have is somewhat of an oldie but a goldie. First released in 2010, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Duomètre à Quantième Lunaire remains one of the brand’s most interesting and value-for-money pieces. Much like the Breguet Classique 7787, it has a moon phase display (for both hemispheres), age of the moon indicator, central sweeping seconds, and power reserve display. In addition, the Duomètre à Quantième Lunaire boasts a foudroyante and a date function, as well as the proprietary ‘dual-wing system’. The dual-wing system refers to the separation of the watch’s two power sources. The first is dedicated to the display of functions, while the other is devoted purely to timekeeping. The idea is to ensure that timekeeping is never adversely affected by the operation of the displays – straightforward but ingenious nonetheless. In terms of movement finishing, the Duomètre à Quantième Lunaire sits somewhere between the Lange 1 Moon Phase and the Classique 7787. In other words, it is spectacular and somewhat of a pleasant surprise from the Le Sentier-based manufacturer at the Quantième Lunaire’s price point of USD40,000. Haute horology-grade finishing from Jaeger-LeCoultre is typically associated with its higher-end pieces (e.g. the Master Grande Tradition series). For the mid-range Duomètre watches to also be adorned with high-end finishing was, we’re sure, a delight to the brand’s enthusiasts. We feel that the Duomètre à Quantième Lunaire out-muscles the Classique 7787 and the Lange 1 Moon Phase in the value for money segment, although not by too much. Once again, choosing between the Breguet and the Jaeger-LeCoultre is largely down to budget and design preference.
The Breguet Classique 7787 is perhaps one of the most interesting variant-of-an-existing-product we have ever reviewed (the Classique 7147 as well). It has allowed Breguet to showcase the sheer talent of its design team and artisans. With the release of the new Classiques, Breguet has shown that it is not afraid to step away from the rose engine lathes that it heavily relies on to introduce refreshing, new design concepts.