As oddly managed as the company is, the historic Swiss brand Breguet remains one of my favorite high-end watchmakers. The company has actually done something that most other brands have attempted and failed: produce a very modern mechanical wristwatch with an aesthetic and decorative spirit that is entirely classic. This blend of looking both forwards and backwards is a marketing dream of many luxury watch brands, and it’s one that Breguet stubbornly holds on to even during experiments with new watches, movements, and any other small divergences from its traditional brand values. Today, I’ll talk about the 2018 Breguet Marine Chronograph 5527 collection—namely the Marine Chronograph 5527 in titanium (18k white and rose gold versions are also available).
This is sort of an mid entry-level Breguet, but it’s still more expensive than the XXI collection, which is an excellent collection. Still, the titanium version of the Breguet Marine costs over $20,000, which places it in a very, very competitive category. At this price point, anyone purchasing a lifestyle sports watch in a non-precious metal is most likely seeking a fashionable status symbol. Does this new Marine Chronograph live up to the market demands?
In theory, Breguet should be able to get a product like this right. The piece is meant to be a luxury sports watch with an everyday-wear appeal, and it should also embody the qualities that Breguet is known for, such as the machine-engraved dial decoration. The design needs to be distinctive to the brand, so when you see the watch, you immediately think “Breguet.” It should also be a beautiful, inspirational watch that people would love to wear while still dressing casually. Ideally, the watch should offer some extra “oomph” compared to a similar watches, such as greater decorative or performance appeal. Ultimately, considering all these components, you should ask yourself: is Breguet fully delivering on all these factors?
I’ll be honest—the Breguet Marine collection is one that I haven’t been personally interested in, even though I really want to like the collection a lot more than I actually do. There are plenty of marine-themed timepieces that take inspirations from diving, boats, and other elements related to the sea, and Breguet combines their core look with that of boating instruments and chronometers of old. The problem, however, is that Breguet was never really able to merge their brand DNA with a legible dial, even though they’ve been able to do so with their other watches. Thus, legibility was my primary issue with the previous generation Marine models, and as a result, I don’t think they were Breguet’s best sellers.
When I learned that Breguet was coming out with a new generation of the Marine, I was really excited because I hoped that the brand would remedy the few issues the Marine had, making it a much more marketable watch. Even though I still don’t think the 5527 Marine Chronograph models are all that legible, Breguet seemed to have attempted to tackle the issue. The hands are nice and properly sized (though they remind me of Baume & Mercier’s logo), but they don’t contrast too much from the dial. Additionally, Breguet decided to go with a very odd design for the applied Roman numeral hour markers. The interior of the hour markers blurs the details because the lume is applied in a similar color, and the result is a somewhat mushy look that isn’t nearly as crisp as I might like. Essentially, the hour markers look like the silhouette of the Roman numeral hour markers, which is below my expectations for a dial like this.
The dial itself is large and easy on the eyes with a deep gray sunburst finish, but in the titanium-cased version, it isn’t very interesting. Breguet saves their much more intricate guilloche-engraved dial for the gold-cased versions of the Marine Chronograph. Because the titanium case is paired with such a comparatively simple dial, I don’t think that combination necessarily complements the “promise of the brand.” Then, there is the matter of the cockeyed chronograph sub-dials, which is a design element that baffles me. I understand the aesthetic value of asymmetry, and Breguet often does a good job at it. In this case, perhaps Breguet took some design cues from Longines’ Avigation BigEye watch (which was actually quite successful) when producing the new Marine Chronograph’s dial. The difference from the Longines model, however, is that the Marine Chronograph has overlapping sub-dials, which makes the overall dial seem fairly sloppy. Breguet seemed to simultaneously want something recognizable yet different, and in my opinion, their strategy here isn’t a winning technique to accomplish that.
At. 42.3mm wide and 13.85mm thick, the Marine Chronograph is quite a sizable timepiece, but not overly so. The case employs a thick lug structure, coined-edging on the sides of the case, and a very high build and construction quality that we’ve come to expect from Breguet. It does, however, remind me too much of Ulysse Nardin’s Marine Collection. I think the design similarity (at least when looking at the watch straight on) is going to be confusing to watch collectors, and it’s not the direction Breguet likely wanted to take with the Marine Chronograph. I think if the case was paired with a better dial design, it would instantly become a lot more appealing to me. The case is also water-resistant to 100m and is topped with a sapphire crystal.
Beating in the watch is the in-house Breguet caliber 582QA automatic 12-hour chronograph movement. Breguet employs their sophisticated silicon technology into the escapement, offering performance beyond that of similar movements that use all metal parts in the regulation system. You can admire the elegant movement through the caseback, and while the custom skeletonized rotor is really attractive, part of me misses the nautilus-style rotor of the previous Marine models.
For a 12-hour chronograph with time and date, the caliber 582QA has a lot of parts (346 of them). The movement operates at 4Hz (28,800 bph) and has 48 hours of power reserve. In addition to the silicon anchor in the escapement, the balance spring is also in silicon. The movement is more than adequate for a conservative luxury sports watch like this one. Breguet doesn’t lose any points here.
Attached to the Marine Chronograph 5527 watch is either a rubber or alligator strap, and both look rather decent. Unfortunately, there is no bracelet option, which I believe would have accompanied the design nicely. I’m hoping that Breguet will release a three-hand version of the Marine with a more legible dial, guilloche engraving, a titanium case, and a matching titanium bracelet. I think Breguet could create a timepiece like that very well, and if it is indeed done well, there would be few true competitors in the space, especially given the decorated dial and titanium construction. I think the Marine Chronograph 5527 (the reference 5527TI/G2/5WV as photographed) has even more potential with some tweaks, so we’ll see what Breguet can come up with in the future. The Breguet Marine Chronograph 5527 in titanium retails for $22,600 USD. breguet.com