February 18, 2011
by Ariel Adams
While pretty awesome to behold (especially in size) and pretty in design, the Breguet Marine Royale Ref. 5847 watch for 2010 is an ergonomic mistake. It looks cool on the wrist – making you feel like some sort of well-to-do space pirate captain, but the legibility and use of the watch are pretty whacked. I’ve never much bought into the whole Breguet Marine line. Is it supposed to be a true diver? Just dive style? Dive anything? I mean it is called the “Marine,” and does have an available rubber strap, 300 meters of water resistance, and rotating diver’s bezel. Then again, it does have the “Royale” name. So maybe this is just a watch meant for yachting. Regardless of the style or actual theme of the watch, it does have a sort of handsome grace. Confused maybe, but still handsome. You have to like the design of the rotating bezel and the out minute marker chapter ring.
New for 2010 is the Breguet Marine Royale Alarm Ref. 5847 (5847BB/12/BZ0). Not the first alarm for the line, but perhaps more “alarming.” The watch is big too. Almost massive for Breguet standards at 45mm wide. This with the thickness of the case make it feel like a big chuck or metal on your wrist. Heavy is good, but the watch really does have a particular “chunky” quality to it. Case material is 18k white gold (or 18k rose gold), and available with two dial colors.
There are a few peculiar pushers and levers on the side of the case. It looks intimidating are first glance. One of the things (near the crown) is a lever that locks the bezel into place to prevent it from moving. An odd looking wave pusher on the other side of the case is used for cycling through the alarm functions (on or off mainly). I do quite like the “wave” style engrave automatic rotor in the rear of the watch. That is part of the entire Marine collection, and I enjoy it. The more you look at the case style and the dial of course, you tend to feel that the watch is “imperial” in theme. Sure Breguet is popular in countries that have had some degree of “empire” in their history (or present), but the watch does feel a welcome accessory to your political war machine.
Breguet gives the watch an 18k silvered gold dial (or in rhodium black) that is deeply engraved with a number of guilloche patterns. The light blue elements for the alarm ring are a nice touch, and most of the elements on the dial are applied. Without having to read the dial, it looks really pleasant. And now starts the confusion. I’ve mentioned that watch is an alarm. Mechanical it works well enough. Use one of the crowns on the right side of the case to set the blue tipped alarm hand, and then use the “wave” pusher to make sure the alarm is on or off. The sound is about as good as you can get from a mechanical alarm in a case of this size and design. Meaning it is not very loud – though most aren’t really. The dial has a separate power reserve indicator for the alarm (though none for the rest of the functions). So you can be sure it has enough power. That indicator is not exactly a breeze to read. In bad light, forget about seeing the little hand in it. Worse is the tiny window for the alarm function indicator. The actual disc is so deep into the movement it is like looking into a pin hole. Without the right light or angle, you have basically no way of knowing whether the alarm is on or off. I doubt that many people who have this watch are going to use the alarm much. On the dark dialed version of the watch all these legibility and ergonomic problems are compounded.
I would love to say that reading the time is any better. Traditional Breguet Pomme hands are nice, but they are too thin here and blend in with the dial. Trust me, in the wrong light, you may as well check your phone or ask someone else for the time. There is lume on the 18k gold hands, but just a little dot for the minute hand, and a super small sliver on the hour hand. This is all form over function, and I never expected that from Breguet. I am sure that the lume on the dial is better. Overall I wish that Breguet would have planned out the dial better, it really destroys what otherwise could have been a kick-ass watch.
Movement wise the Marine Royale Alarm has an automatic Breguet Caliber 519R. Nice 18k white gold rotor that I discussed above, and a 45 hour power reserve. In addition to the time and alarm, it has a date complication as well. The finishing and decoration on the movement is nicely done – though that is to be expect from Breguet. So in the end, as a Breguet “looking” watch the 2010 Marine Royale Alarm doesn’t disappoint, nor does it as a luxury watch. But as a tool that is actually meant to be useful (at least to tell the time), it is lacking. And in Breguet’s defense, it is by no means the only luxury watch that makes these mistakes. Maybe next year Breguet will do better.