May 17, 2019
by Ariel Adams
Swiss Breguet’s top new watch for 2019 is the Breguet Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat Squelette 5395 which takes the willing in-house made and decorated caliber 581 and presents it in an incredible skeletonized form. It isn’t cheap, but Breguet’s new easily wearable masterpiece is a satisfying combination of modern watchmaking technical prowess and traditional decoration techniques. I like this to think of it as the “traditional-looking watch that yesterday they wished could be made.
That’s what I admire the most about Breguet, the fact that they use the best of today’s production technology and horological know-how to create high-effort luxury watches for people who know how to judge a high-end item’s inherent value. Two versions of the Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat Squelette 5395 will be available in 2019 – which is a bit rare for Breguet as they normally come out with only one version at a time of something this elaborate. The two versions will be the reference 5395BR/1S/9WU Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat Squelette 5395 in 18k rose gold and the reference 5395PT/RS//9WU in platinum. The latter is my favorite of the two because Breguet decided to contrast the platinum case with a movement whose skeletonized bridges are made from 18k rose gold. The colors and overall effect are stunning.
What will make the Breguet Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat Squelette 5395 so wearable is its light weight and rather thin 7.7mm thick case. The case is 41mm wide and water resistant to 30 meters being sandwiched in sapphire crystal. The case has “erect lugs” which can extend past the edges of smaller wrists. Note that this isn’t per se a new case and movement, but rather the first time the Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat has been rendered as a skeleton.
The skeletonization of the caliber 581 (here as the 581SQ) is a work of art that also required intelligently retaining the delicate infrastructure of the movement architecture. Everything from the interesting design of the skeletonized mainspring barrel to the guilloche engraving on some of the exposed bridges demonstrates an extreme amount of careful effort and work on most all surfaces of this lovely art piece. Despite the copious amount of polishing, engraving, and shaping, the Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat Squelette 5395 still has a masculine feel to it as well as a familiar classicism.
The blued steel pomme-style hands are properly sized and run along an hour and minute track printed on a ring of sapphire crystal. This means that you have the aesthetic drama of the skeletonized movement as well as the legibility any good timepiece is meant to have. Small details such as the actually applied blued-steel hour makers next to the printed Roman numeral hour markers are some of the details that in my opinion make this high-end luxury watch so classy and tasteful.
Now in its third or fourth watch, the caliber 581 automatic tourbillon movement is easily considered ultra-thin as just 3mm thick. It might not break any records but it is among the finest movements of its class because (again) it combines so many things that a serious enthusiast should be looking for. First is the fact that today thin movements continue to be a “real complication” because of how complex it is to develop the part for and assemble movements with such tight tolerances. Next, you have the performance advantages of a silicon escapement and hair spring as well as a light-weight titanium tourbillon cage.
As an ultra-thin tourbillon movement the caliber 581SQ is also an automatic that uses a peripheral rotor. Such rotors are possible in movements designed to be this wide (16 lignes) given the overall very thin architecture. In essence, the movement engineers were able to build horizontally as opposed to vertically. The movement operates at 4Hz with a long 80 hours of power reserve. For the service longevity of the movement, the mainspring barrel is mounted on ball-bearing rotors as opposed to a traditional pinion (which will wear and tear more).
If you are in the market for a $200,000 everyday day watch the Breguet Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat Squelette 5395 is a serious contender. First is the fact that it is visually impressive and traditionally handsome. That means it will get the right attention from people who don’t know watches. Second, it is highly artistic which means that the wearer will enjoy admiring it from various angles often enough to earn it plenty of wrist time. Finally, watch gear hands have plenty of interesting technical stories to discuss in how the caliber 581 movement is design and presented in this skeletonized form. In all this is one of the sleeper mega watches of 2019. Price for the Breguet Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat Squelette 5395 reference 5395BR/1S/9WU in 18k rose gold is 220,000 CHF ($225,200 USD) and the reference 5395PT/RS//9WU in platinum is 235,000 CHF ($240,600 USD). Learn more at the Breguet website here.