Announced in September 2020, the new Breguet Double Tourbillon Ref. 5345 with two independent tourbillons, skeletonized dial, and in a platinum case just arrived at our shores. We got a close look at this marvel, and give you this comprehensive review and episode of Watchscapes.
Breguet celebrates 2021 as the “Year of the Tourbillon”, marking the 220th anniversary of one of the greatest watchmaking complications of all times: the Tourbillon. An exquisite mechanism of unrivaled complexity, the invention lies at the heart of a genuine human adventure that, to this day, contributes extensively to the reputation of its creator Abraham-Louis Breguet and his maison which now bears his name.
And the tourbillon is certainly one of the icons for Breguet. Their creations with this complication have always been beautiful, and noteworthy to bear the name. In 2006, they released the first Double Tourbillon in the form of the Ref. 5347. A spectactular new development with over 570 parts.
Review of the earlier Breguet Double Tourbillon Ref. 5347
The Ref 5347 is still in the current Breguet catalog and is available in 4 dial/case variants, prices from CHF 400,000 to CHF 450,000. A further reference which is gemset, the Ref. 5349 (CHF 820,000 in platinum) is also in the current catalog. The Ref. 5349 has been spotted on the wrist of Cristiano Renaldo in an advertisement for his CF7 Play it Cool perfume.
Breguet Double Tourbillon Ref. 5345
The Classique Double Tourbillon Quai de l’Horloge Reference 5345 retails for CHF 628,000 inclusive of Swiss taxes.
The case, dial and hands
The case is a massive 46mm in diameter and comprise of a case middle with soldered lugs in platinum. It feels very hefty on the wrist. The bezel is vestigial, and almost disappears from the front view of the watch. The case side retains the coin edge pattern that Breguet is famous for.
A rather high, sapphire crystal protects the dial. This high box shaped crystal serves two purposes. First is aesthetic and gives the watch a decidedly vintage feel. And the second, it allows light to enter from its sides, illuminating the dial side.
The dial side is magnificent. Breguet has skeletonized the dial to such an extent that the only remaining part is a peripheral ring in metal, with the rest in sapphire, allowing a full display of the mechanics within. The Roman numeral markers for the hours are hand engraved over the metal ring, as are the dots which represent the minutes. From the dial, the power train of both the tourbillons can be traced, from barrel to the tourbillon cage.
The movement remains the same as with earlier renditions of the Breguet Double Tourbillons. The architecture is the magnificent, ultra complicated layout of the double gear train driving the two tourbillons via a differential. As with the earlier versions the hour hand is driven directly by the differential, and the minutes are a derivation via a secondary train not in the power flow. This same power source drives the entire platform which the movement is set, enabling it to make a complete revolution once every 12 hours. Some other maker might be tempted to call this a third tourbillon, as the entire dial platform, carrying both tourbillons itself makes complete revolutions (once every 12 hours), but not Breguet who sticks to the traditional. As mentioned in the commentary of the Release Article, we know this because we asked them if they should call this a triple tourbillon. After mulling it over for a while, and agreeing that it is a possible interpretation, they said they preferred to just stick with Double Tourbillon. We also note that sister company Blancpain’s Tourbillon Carrousel is a model which features a tourbillon and a caroussel which is driven via a differential. We also note that a caroussel is not driven in the power flow of the time keeping train, and when you stop the caroussel, the movement continues to beat, though will not keep good time. But when you stop a tourbillon, as it is driven by the power flow of the train, the movement stops.
The tourbillon is fabulous. Both of them. Held on one side by a blued steel arm which itself makes a rotation every 12 hours and becomes the hour hand, and the other on the bare steel arm diametrically opposite, acting as a huge counterweight. Both are spectacles. Finish is exquisite. And at the very top level of the game.
The cover to each of the double barrels is a stylized B logo, which is immaculately carved and finished. The movement exemplifies with the multiple opportunities for the watchmaker to show off his craft with many inward and outward angles. All featuring very acute angles, and all executed to perfection.
The movement is highly decorated from the case back, with the engraving of the facade of the building occupied by Abraham-Louis Breguet from 1775 onward, at 39 Quai de l’Horloge, Paris.
Etched into gold, the work is a marvel of meticulous detail that through the windowpanes a glimpse may be caught of the wheels of the caliber.
Suffice to mention that the movement finishing is top level, and competitive with any in the market today. This is the virtuosity that Breguet is capable of.
The competitive landscape
The landscape for a watch with double tourbillon is certainly one which is surprisingly, quite well, though none of the competition offer the same architecture of the double tourbillons as Breguet.
Perhaps the gorilla in the room is none other than Greubel Forsey, who offer many options. The design of the double tourbillons in the Gruebel Forsey nomenclature refers to two toubillon, often inclined at an angle to each other, but one within the other. For example in the Gruebel Forsey Double Tourbillon is an arrangement where the outer tourbillon makes one revolution per 4-minutes, and an inner tourbillon running at the rate of 1 minute. The GF is also skeletonized.
Speake-Marin has a Magister Double Tourbillon. We reviewed the watch, then known as Peter Speake-Marin, but the brand has now changed and Peter is no longer involved. But Speak-Marin still carries a double tourbillon in a skeletonized version which they call the Vertical Double Tourbillon Openworked, based on the same basic design. The architecture of the double tourbillon is rather different, with both tourbillons stationary, and placed next to the sub-dial for the hour minutes. The case is also 46mm in diameter.
Arnold & Son has a double tourbillon in the model they call DTE (Double Tourbillon Escapement). Again the architecture is different. And the DTE is no less spectacular.
One of the earlier examples is the Roger Dubuis Excalibur Double Tourbillon. The Roger Dubuis originally had the tourbillons spinning in different directions, which created a more interesting visual spectacle, but later resorted to both the tourbillons spinning in the same direction for simplicity. The latter is still on their catalog but only available in white gold or pink gold. Both limited editions, with case size of 45mm.
Another one of interest is the Manufacture Royale 1770 Micromegas which also feature dual tourbillons, but with two tourbillons spinning at different rotation rates. One making a revolution every 6 seconds (fast!!) and the right one is a regular one minute tourbillon. The Micromegas is still in their current catalog.
Sister brand Blancpain has a Tourbillon Caroussel, which is close, but not quite the same. The caroussel is not driven in the power flow of the time keeping train, and when you stop the caroussel, the movement continues to beat, though will not keep good time. But when you stop a tourbillon, as it is driven by the power flow of the train, the movement stops.
This is an amazing watch. The Breguet Classique Double Tourbillon Quai de l’Horloge Ref. 5345 has considerable wrist presence. And it takes a confident individual to carry it off successfully. The large 46mm diameter is one reason. The other is the immaculately finished, and magnificent open work that the dial side offers is an immediate projection of power and wealth. Indeed, to able to afford one on the wrist speaks more than the Ferrari in the driveway.
In terms of the competition, which as we have briefly outlined, are aplenty, none offer the architecture that the Breguet Ref. 5345 does. And none can muster the namesake of the inventor of the tourbillon, and the heritage that comes along with it. Tourbillons are Breguet, to paraphrase of the late toys American toy store. Very spectacular. So is it twice as spectacular? We would argue it is more than double the spectacle of a single tourbillon!
Photographed in the Breguet Boutique in Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands. Hasselblad H3D-39 with HC 4/120 and HC 2.8/80 with and without H28 and H52 extension tubes. Profoto strobes.