Thanks to the talent brought to us by master watch movement designer Jean-Francois Mojon and company Chronode, we now have on this earth what is essentially the world’s most expensive "Casio ProTrek" with the Breva Genie 01 timepiece. Why spend a few hundred bucks for a watch with a slew of digital environmental sensors that can (and will) last like an Energizer bunny when for over $150,000 you can get a mechanical weather station watch with an altimeter and barometer? Of course the Breva requires a bit more tinkering and care. It makes perfect sense for me. It's like those guys that want to have a photography dark room in their basement to get closer to the “soul” of picture development in resistance of the scourge that is the unholy memory card and Photoshop alliance. Though in this case I hardly think that someone will have more artistic control over predicting the weather by using a mechanical versus computerized means of considering it.
My sarcasm is extremely hypocritical given the fact that I’ve dedicated my career to mechanical timepieces. I actually think new brand Breva’s “Génie 01” watch to be extremely cool, as well as luxuriously unnecessary. Though aside from being technically marvelous, it does feel just as convenient as having to use a slide-rule versus a digital calculator. There must be an outlet for purists right?
The video which Breva had produced makes the Génie 01 looks like sex on gears. What’s with that ball rolling around? It reminds me of that famous mid 1990s Lexus commercial with the metal ball mysteriously flowing over the curves of a car. Breva should be commended for filling that gap in the horological world where a mechanical weather station watch should have been sitting. This timepiece is the first of its kind, and follows in the footsteps of the HYT H1 watch, that was also designed with the help of Chronode.
At its core the Génie 01 uses a technology that is several hundred years old. That is a gas filled chamber that expands based on external air pressure. This is used both to determine altitude as well as the barometric pressure. When these are both taken into consideration, as well as the change of pressure while remaining at the same elevation, you can more or less predict whether “rain is a comin’.”
Breva dutifully explains the means by which the Génie 01 weather station features are used. Not being myself an amateur barometer enthusiast I didn’t pay close enough attention in class. Their website will explain in more detail for those interested. In a nutshell you use the pair of extra crowns to adjust scales along the indicator hands to help compensate for starting readings and the change in elevation. Reading it got me all excited to pull out my sextant and go boating after throwing my GPS overboard. Life is just too convenient these days thanks to technology, and it makes me sad that only the mega-rich can afford the toys required to remember what it was like to live in the past. When is a custom coach-maker going to finally release that new limited edition automobile with the crank starter? I’ve just always wanted to experience the pleasure of that truly connected automotive engine experience – and pay handsomely for it.
Available to start in only 18k white or pink gold, you know the Génie 01 is designed exclusively for predicting the weather at formal or executive events. Try going hiking with it and the park ranger will stop you for being over-dressed. We live in a society with rules, and if you just start ignoring them, all hell could break loose. At 44.7mm wide, Breva designed the watch to fit comfortably on most wrists. ProTrek owners have to still deal with the rigors of 50mm. Though I have a feeling Casio produces a much lighter timepiece. I seriously want to take the two watches out in the field to road test them. That would probably make for the single greatest comparison article I’ve ever produced. The ultimate test between tradition and technology.
Where Breva will easily win is sex appeal. The Génie 01, with its skeletonized dial and mechanical movement, is by far the better watch to wear on a date. Casio hasn’t quite figured out geek-chic yet – at least not in the ProTrek range. But alone on a stormy night… I think Casio might have my vote for reliability and functionality.
Inside the Breva Génie 01 is a proprietary mechanical movement that is manually wound with a power reserve of 65 hours. It was designed again by Mr. Mojon and Chronode. It contains dual anaerobic capsules for measuring air pressure, and is made from 405 parts. Functionally, the Breva Génie 01 offers the “hours, minutes, small seconds, altitude indicator, barometric pressure indicator, power reserve indicator, air pressure equaliser, equaliser seal indicator, barometric scale adjuster, and altitude scale adjuster.”
Included in the movement (as you may have seen) is an air pressure equalizer. You can manually release air from the movement to equalize it with the environment. Apparently there are situations that require this, among other manners of mechanical babysitting necessary to properly predict the weather. I am sure that with a few minutes instructions anyone will be an instant expert on using the watch. I am just impressed that someone made something like this, and look forward to what potentially more impracticably delicious stuff Breva has in store for us. The Génie 01 will be initially produced as a limited edition of 110 pieces with 55 pieces 18k white gold (150,000 Swiss Francs) and 55 pieces in 18k pink gold (145,000 Swiss Francs). breva-watch.com
Génie 01 technical specifications
Functions: hours, minutes, small seconds, altitude indicator, barometric pressure indicator, power reserve indicator, air pressure equaliser, equaliser seal indicator, barometric scale adjuster, altitude scale adjuster.
Case, dials and strap:
Case material: available in white gold (55 pieces) or 4N pink gold (55 pieces)
Dimensions: 44.7 mm x 15.6 mm
Number of components: 70
Winding setting crown at 9 o'clock, altitude and barometric pressure adjuster at 2 o'clock (altitude inner pusher, barometer exterior ring), air pressure equaliser at 4 o'clock
Crystals: sapphire crystal and display back treated with anti-reflective coating on both sides.
Dials: smoked sapphire with galvanic growth text, numbers and markers
Altitude scale: available in metric or imperial measurements
Strap: hand stitched alligator strap with folding buckle to match case material.
Watcher resistance: 30m
Air equaliser with moisture-resisting osmosis membrane Teflon fabric around a gold rim
Proprietary movement developed exclusively for Breva by Jean-François Mojon/ Chronode
Number of components: 405
Number of jewels: 46
Balance frequency: 4 Hz
Dual anaerobic capsules measuring air pressure
Spiral anti-vibration spring: LIGA by Mimotech
Power reserve: 65 hours