September 2, 2015
by Ariel Adams
Back at Baselworld 2015, one of the new Breguet watches was an extremely interesting and visually attractive – if you like watch movement porn, that is – chronograph that combines appealing technology with a refined and distinct “Breguet look,” known as the Breguet Tradition 7077 Chronograph Independent. This watch was so nice, in fact, that aBlogtoWatch included it in our list of the Top 10 Watches Of Baselworld 2015. It isn’t cheap, nor is it meant to be, but the Breguet Tradition 7077 Chronograph Independent is a real “watch lover’s watch,” for those looking to combine their love of design with a fun and extremely “not boring,” yet classic overall look and feel.
Of course, I wish that Breguet decided to offer the Breguet Tradition 7077 Chronograph Independent in steel, but alas, it is only available in either 18k white or rose gold. If you are familiar with timepieces at this level from Breguet, this fact should not at all be surprising. Breguet watches are often one of those luxury products that really never needs to apologize for being quite literally a luxury product. The Tradition style case remains a classic and nearly synonymous with the brand, with its “coined” edges, smooth bezel, and flat lugs.
Of course, those same lugs that look great on a smaller diameter watches might cause some sizing problems for those with medium to small wrists, given the 44mm-wide case size of the Breguet Tradition 7077 Chronograph Independent. You can see the fit on my wrist, and the lugs do stick out a bit, even though the case rests firmly on my arm. The case is also 13.95mm thick – which isn’t too bad for a chronograph of this complexity.
The majority of the story here is in the chronograph, and you’ll notice that the pushers on the case aren’t at all where you might “traditionally” expect them to be. Rather than a 2 and 4 o’clock chronograph pusher orientation, you have the pushers at 4 and 8 o’clock. Interesting, right?
As a chronograph, you have some interesting features. Breguet isn’t the first company to do this, but the Breguet Tradition 7077 Chronograph Independent is named as such because the chronograph complication uses its own balance wheel and gear train, separate from the elements of the mechanical movement that indicate the time. A somewhat similar concept has been more popularized by Jaeger-LeCoultre with the Duometre Chronograph (aBlogtoWatch review here), where the movement is quite literally split between those complications that tell the time and those that power the other complications. In fact, something like the Duometre would be a natural competitor product to the Breguet Tradition 7077 Chronograph Independent.
What is different, however, in the Breguet is that the balance wheel for the time and the one for the chronograph operate at different frequency rates. The balance wheel for the time operates at 3Hz (21,600 bph), while the balance wheel for the chronograph operates at 5Hz (36,000 bph). This faster frequency for the chronograph translates into more accuracy over time – which is actually somewhat overkill, given that the chronograph complication in the Breguet Tradition 7077 Chronograph Independent only measures up to 20 minutes. With that said, those 20 minutes are gonna be rather precisely measured! Five Hertz is at the upper ranges of chronograph watch frequency, but Breguet has actually already exceeded this with their very special 10Hz speed chronograph in the Breguet Type XXII 3880ST watch (hands-on here).
The fact that the chronograph measures 20 minutes alone makes the watch unique (30 is more standard for single-subdial chronographs). However, in order to make the dial more symmetrical (and I happen to love the symmetry in the watch), Breguet went with a retrograde style minute subdial to the left of the dial for the time. To the right of the dial for the time is a power reserve indicator – and the two gauges nicely balance each other out.
All of this is part of the Breguet-produced caliber 580DR manually-wound movement with 50 hours of power reserve. The movement contains some silicon parts, such as the pallets, balance springs, and escapements. Breguet has been a champion of silicon parts technology and, probably more than any other traditional watch brand, has put silicon to the best use in watches such as this.
From a design perspective, the caliber 580DR is fantastic. Breguet drew on its own history as a name and many of the bridge designs are based on antique Breguet watches, but made for today – and with that cool matte deep gray finishing color. The angularity of the bridges looks remarkably modern (even though it is inspired by historical movements), and the overall treatment of the movement on both the open-dial front and the exhibition caseback make for a watch that is unlike anything else out there from other brands. While Breguet is a very well respected brand, I think their watches need to come up a bit more in conversations between watch enthusiasts when it comes to very nicely designed and finished movements.
While the Breguet Tradition 7077 Chronograph Independent isn’t the most complicated or fully functional chronograph in the world, it is a very interesting one that mixes technical sophistication with design excellence in a particularly satisfying way. The Breguet Tradition 7077 Chronograph Independent also happens to be unique, which is something that, for at least me, is very important when even considering a watch with a price close to $80,000. Breguet, honestly, could do more to properly market their innovative mechanical movements and add more personality to their timepieces in terms of names and stories, but at the end of the day, if you take the time to understand what they are doing, then Breguet has a lot to offer, and thankfully, keeps coming out with truly new stuff.
The Breguet Tradition 7077 Chronograph Independent reference 7077BR/G1/9XV in 18k rose gold is priced at $78,900 and the reference 7077BB/G1/9XV in 18k white gold is priced at $79,700 breguet.com