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Review: Contemporary Elegance – The Breguet Classique 5177 with Grand Feu Blue Enamel Dial

by Frank Chuo on September 9, 2019

Breguet Classique 5177 with Grand Feu Blue Enamel Dial

The Classique collection by Breguet hosts some of the brand’s most elegant timepieces. Whether it’s extra-thin models or complicated watches, they all remain rooted to the technical principles, the artistry and the traditional values of the Breguet watch. Recent releases of Classique timepieces have been very well-received by the watch community; these include the refined Classique 7147 with enamel dial from 2017, and much more recently, the awe-inspiring Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat Squelette 5395 from this year. Also introduced in 2019 was a watch that may have gone under the radar for most, partially because it is not a complete novelty – we’re talking about the Classique 5177. There are no fewer than 15 variants of the Classique 5177 in the current Breguet catalogue, but this latest iteration may be the most gorgeous yet. Here, we bring you the details and our thoughts on the new Classique 5177 with grand feu blue enamel dial.

The Case, Dial, and Hands

The case of the Classique 5177 is crafted in 18 ct white gold. Measuring 38 mm in diameter and 8.8 mm in thickness, the watch is classically sized and will slide under even the tightest of dress cuffs. The case features design elements that are consistent throughout the Classique line, namely the fluted case band and the straight, soldered lugs. It also bears mentioning that the strap is secured to the lugs via screw pins rather than the usual spring bars, a solution that is not only better looking, but also more secure. Suffice to say, Breguet watch cases are a work of art in their own right.

The case of the Classique 5177 features the hallmarks of Breguet’s designs, including the fluted case band and the straight lugs.

But as immaculate as the cases are, it is always the dial that steals the show. While the ‘standard’ version of the watch comes with an engine-turned dial, this year’s Classique 5177 is endowed with a grand feu blue enamel dial. The process of creating an enamel dial typically involves the firing of enamel powder, placed on a metal plate in a kiln at temperatures of 800 degrees Celsius. Enamel dials suffer a high rejection rate, as anything less than flawless is discarded. The ones that do make it are objects of sheer beauty. Unlike the standard hobnailed dial, the enameled dial of the new Classique 5177 is more ‘pristine’, and cleaner in appearance. It’s blue hue, while less classical, certainly looks more interesting than, say, the standard white.

To ensure legibility, powdered silver is used for the prints on the dial; this includes the hour numerals, the date numerals, and the company marquee. Upon closer inspection, the surfaces of the printed elements appear grainy, offering a satisfying contrast to the smoothness of the enamel. The only script that isn’t printed on is the secret Breguet signature, which is etched into the dial near the 6 o’clock position and visible only under oblique light. The hands – rendered in blued steel in the other 14 variants – are crafted in rhodium-plated steel for the first time in this model. The outcome is spectacular as the moon-tipped hands appear particularly radiant against the dark blue backdrop that is the enamel dial.

The dial oozes class while maintaining a modern constitution.

Perhaps unbeknownst to most, a date-less version of the Classique 5177 with grand feu blue enamel dial actually exists. It lives as the Classique 5175 “Ginza Anniversary”, and was presented in 2017 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Breguet boutique in Ginza. Bad news for those who prefer a time-only display: there were only 10 pieces available for purchase, and they’ve almost certainly all been accounted for. Thankfully, the date window in the Classique 5177 is executed tastefully. The trapezoid aperture is a refreshing take compared to the mundane rectangular cut-out of the typical Swiss watch. Moreover, the date numerals are sized to fit the trapezium whereby the tens are smaller than the ones; we find this to be aesthetically pleasing.

It’s always a constant struggle for old watch manufacturers to design their timepieces to be historically relatable while still keeping with the times. Breguet deserves a pat on the back for achieving the perfect balance on the new Classique 5177. The watch stays true to the traditional values of a Breguet dress watch and yet manages to keep things fresh with a small modern twist in the form of a blue dial.

The Movement

Driving the Classique 5177 is the 226-part, 26-jewel Calibre 777Q. The automatic movement has a power reserve of 55 hours when fully wound and operates at a standard 4 Hz beat rate. While it is, in essence, a traditional mechanical movement, the Calibre 777Q does contain silicon parts, namely the balance spring and the escapement. Breguet was an early adopter of silicon parts, when its use in traditional timepieces was deemed sacrilegious. As a result, the manufacture’s watch movements have benefited from the inertness of the element for over a decade.

The Calibre 777Q as seen through the exhibition case back.

The Calibre 777Q is not only technically impressive, but also well-finished. Clearly visible through the exhibition case back are the Geneva waves on the surface of bridges; the polished chamfers; the polished screw heads; the rounded, exterior, as well as interior angles; the perlage on the main plate; and of course, the mesmerising waveform guilloche on the rotor.

The Competitive Landscape

With superb craftsmanship, Breguet have taken the basic time-and-date-only watch to a whole other plane. The Classique 5177 with grand feu blue enamel dial is as good as it gets amongst mainstream luxury watch brands. The watch – paired with a blue leather strap – retails for CHF23,100, the same as its white enamel sibling. But the important question is: how does it compare to other time/date-only watches in the market.

With its pure dress watch proportions, the Classique 5177 will slide under even the tightest of dress cuffs.

A watch that is somewhat similar to the Breguet Classique 5177 is the Chopard L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru. While they don’t share the same case shape, both watches are of similar sizes with the Chopard measuring under 40 mm in diameter and just 7.75 mm in thickness. Instead of an enamel dial, the L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru has a porcelain-like dial, which looks as smooth and supple as the enamel dial on the Classique 5177. The watch also features a date display at the 6 o’clock position when the seconds sub-dial is. The Calibre 97.01-L that powers the watch is tonneau-shaped to match the case. It, too, is finished to exceptional standards, and is certified by the Hallmark of Geneva. The L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru is priced virtually the same as the new Classique 5177, at CHF22,300. Between the two, it all comes down to design preference, and there really are no losers.  

The L.U.C range by Chopard showcases the brand’s finest timepieces, the Heritage Grand Cru included.

Luckily for the world, not all high-end manufacturers require you to empty your child’s college fund to pay for a time-and-date-only watch. When the new Master Control Date by Jaeger-LeCoultre was unveiled back in 2017, it received widespread approval from not only the media, but importantly, the community as well. The refreshed design of the Master Control Date in stainless steel features a sector dial with multiple finishes, skeletonised syringe hands, and a date display with blue numerals. Where it falls short in meticulous hand-finishing, it makes up for in pricing; at USD5,700, the watch retails for just a quarter of the price of the Chopard and the Breguet. Make no mistake, the Master Control Date is quality through and through, and, as such, is our bang for buck pick here.

The Master Control Date with its new retro design.

Final Thoughts

Manufacture Breguet makes some of the most bewitching dress watches the industry has seen and this notion continues to be true with the release of the new Classique 5177. Its blue grand feu enamel dial is enough to ensure that the reference stays current while retaining the ancient techniques and values that have been passed down from the time of Abraham-Louis Breguet to present.

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