Breguet continues to feel like “the watch that got away,” which more or less means its watches could easily fly under your radar and pass you by. If you don’t pay really close attention, it is extremely easy to miss new releases from the storied Swiss watch brand named for the grandfather of modern horology. Today, let’s look at the elegantly simple and very satisfying new-for-2016 Breguet Classique 7147 (debuted here), here in 18k white gold. My love affair with many of the brand’s products such as this one continues despite the company’s mostly absent use of modern marketing or widespread communication which is necessary is today’s very busy world of luxury mechanical timepieces. In other words, it takes a lot of hands-on time with Breguet watches in order to properly separate them from the competition.
Breguet was the darling acquisition of Nicolas Hayek Sr. who coveted the brand for its heritage, accomplishments, and particular flavor of traditional design. The brand’s relative quiet in the luxury watch industry – a marketing-driven industry – can only be explained by ego. The brand thinks they are hot enough to attract attention from the right people without having to work hard to get it. Maybe they are right. I mean, here I am waxing poetic about the brand’s products despite the fact that they sometimes seem to forget it’s the 21st century… ah, the joys of appreciating mechanical timepieces in our modern age.
Pretty much everything you want or need in a classy-looking men’s dress watch is right here in the Breguet Classique 7147. It’s simple and elegant, but hardly boring. Breguet – with its armada of rose engine guilloche machines – continues to skillfully produce engraved dials like they did “yesterday” in-house at the manufacture in Switzerland. In addition to this being a slick exemplar of artisanal craftsmanship, the guilloche-engraved dials are decorative yet manly. Yes, that is quite tough to do. Not too many things which are obviously adorned with patterns and flair can still be so appropriate for a dude – and yet this signature Breguet look nails it each time. Sure, you can get plenty of other watches which are “modern” and “minimalist,” but they often feel like the visual equivalent of a melatonin tablet.
Often emulated but never duplicated by other brands, the dial – cut from a piece of 18k gold – has a few different types of engraving styles on this 7147 model. Most unique is that in the off-centered subsidiary seconds dial, while the rest of the inner dial has a clos de Paris-style motif. Blued steel pomme-style hands are perfect in size and offer excellent visual contrast against the silvered dial.
On the wrist, the Breguet Classique 7147 wears larger than its 40mm-wide case size might suggest. This is due to a few elements. First, the case is relatively thin compared to its diameter. Even with an automatic movement, the Breguet Classique 7147 is just 6.1mm thick (water resistant to 30 meters… but hey, it’s a dress watch). Next is the relatively thin bezel, which helps maximize the presence of the dial, something that always helps make a watch look bigger. Last are the thin, straight lugs which jut out helping to make the case feel larger on the wrist.
While I don’t usually prefer 18k white gold or other colors of gold, in this instance I do (though I would like it a lot more if Breguet offered it in steel – which they never will). I wouldn’t say no to the Breguet Classique 7147 in 18k rose gold (in which it is also offered) but the 18k white gold case – in my opinion – matches the look of the dial and hands a bit more nicely. Don’t miss the tiny hand-engraved “secret” Breguet signature located on the dial on either side of 12 o’clock.
I feel like I need to explain this each time because people get curious (and rightly so)… So what is the deal with the “Breguet 930” on the dial? What is this seemingly random number that changes on each particular piece of this and other Breguet watches? This is a useful feature but actually historic in origin. The idea is to look at this number on the dial and correlate it with one on the case (written on the back). If the two numbers match, you know the case and dial were supplied together. If the numbers don’t match then the idea is that the case and dial met each other at some point after the watch left the factory.
Blissfully elegant on the wrist (clearly, this watch is my cup of tea) the Breguet Classique 7147 is suitable as a formal dress watch, but the right person can even pull it off with jeans given its relatively demure yet composed look and decent size. Flip the watch over on its back and you’ll be greeted with a sapphire crystal exhibition window looking into the in-house made caliber 502.3SD automatic movement. Using a 3/4 rotor (sized somewhere between a full-sized and micro-rotor), the movement is handsomely hand-decorated but appreciably modern in construction.
Operating at 3Hz (21,600bph), the movement has 45 hours of power reserve. Personally, I would have preferred a 4Hz movement (Breguet makes plenty of those), but the movement does benefit from having a silicon balance spring as well as silicon pallets that contribute to overall accuracy as well as reliability over time. Moreover, the movement is just 2.4mm thick, which for an automatic (or any movement) is clearly within “ultra-thin” territory.
So yes, I like this watch. It’s not the last timepiece I’d want to own, but for the right person it could serve 90% of their dress watch needs. It also offers swathes of details you just cant find too many other (or any) places which helps make it worth the price premium. As I mentioned earlier, Breguet products two versions of the Breguet Classique 7147 as the reference 7147BR/12/9WU in 18k rose gold and the reference 7147BB/12/9WU in 18k white gold. Price is $21,000 USD and $21,500, respectively. breguet.com