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Breguet Tradition 7087 Minute Repeater Tourbillon Watch Hands-On

Breguet Tradition 7087 Minute Repeater Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

2015 marked the 10th anniversary of the Breguet Tradition collection, an occasion which the brand chose to commemorate with a singular haymaker of a watch: the Breguet Tradition 7087 Minute Repeater Tourbillon. Though this watch was announced at Baselworld 2015, as we prepare for a fresh salvo of show-season announcements from the 240-year-old company, we revisit the 7087 – a marriage between Breguet’s most historically significant complications and modern technologies, to yield a watch that makes no apologies for both presentation or price tag.

Breguet Tradition 7087 Minute Repeater Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Breguet Tradition 7087 Minute Repeater Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

There are two very distinct, opposing flavors of Breguet watchmaking: there’s the subtly sporty, ultra high-end Type X series for those looking for a slice of one of the oldest surviving names in watchmaking in classical tool-watch form. Then, there’s the Tradition line – arguably the tip of the Swatch Group spear when it comes to the purest form of horological innovation. We recently spent time with the Tradition 7077 Chronograph – a watch Ariel called “a real watch-lover’s watch,” following its debut at Baselworld 2015, so naturally, a deeper look into the Tradition line is warranted.

Breguet Tradition 7087 Minute Repeater Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

With origins dating all the way back to the late 1600s, it could be argued that the minute repeater is at the apex of watchmaking expertise, so it makes sense for Breguet’s Tradition series to include a minute repeater in keeping with the brand’s commitment to marry modern innovations with its own foundations of watchmaking.

Breguet Tradition 7087 Minute Repeater Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The true mark of a minute repeater is all in the tone of the chime. It must be crisp enough to spell out the exact time, but simultaneously pleasing – and never harsh. In this particular instance, Breguet watchmakers took a pretty unprecedented approach for the Breguet Tradition 7087 Minute Repeater Tourbillon’s symphonic design: by digitally simulating nearly a hundred thousand different chime sounds, and singling out those which were deemed to carry the most pleasing psychoacoustic criteria. Seriously. Rendering a uniquely original tone out of those thousands would then serve as the underlying basis for the materials and design of the watch itself.

Breguet Tradition 7087 Minute Repeater Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Breguet Tradition 7087 Minute Repeater Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

As the watch’s name indicates, the Breguet Tradition 7087 Minute Repeater Tourbillon isn’t just a minute repeater. There’s also a 60-second tourbillon complication at 6 o’clock – an inclusion which also makes sense, considering Abraham-Louis Breguet himself invented the tourbillon. This movement is delineated by the in-house caliber 565DR, an automatic movement with a platinum peripheral oscillating rotor and an 80-hour power reserve. The movement also exhibits a number of modern-meets-classic Breguet flourishes like titanium bridges based on antique Breguet models, silicon springs, and an inverted lateral lever escapement with silicon pallets – perfect examples of Breguet championing the very best technologies from two centuries of watchmaking. Take specific note that the presence of all that silicon makes Breguet’s exclusive magnetic strike governor technology possible – a unique solution that ensures the chime’s rhythm isn’t interrupted as the repeater’s barrel discharges. See, most repeaters employ some type of timing regulator within the gear train, but these components are usually guilty of emitting noise that would interfere with the repeater’s tone.

Breguet Tradition 7087 Minute Repeater Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Breguet’s stealthy regulator is designed around a series of magnets that attract and repel the disks of the regulator at an even pace, maintaining a precise rhythm throughout the duration of the chime – which sounds just as Breguet engineers intended it to. When you break down the movement piece by piece, you’ll notice a unifying theme: every component plays a distinct role in either the transference of wanted sound, or the muting of unwanted sound.

Breguet Tradition 7087 Minute Repeater Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

There’s an awful lot to look at on the Breguet Tradition 7087 Minute Repeater Tourbillon, but that’s because its watchmakers want you to see every bit of innovation that went into what is essentially a re-design of the minute repeater complication from the ground up. Initially, your attention is drawn from the fluted case to the engine-tuned 18-carat gold dial offset at 1:30, which remains plenty legible but leaves ample room for viewing the elements critical to the minute repeater. This starts with the two white gold gong springs (another Abraham-Louis Breguet invention) which bisect the dial and attach to the bezel itself to optimize the transmission of vibrations at a wider frequency range. Even the hammers striking the gongs are of their own design, striking perpendicular to the movement rather than parallel, which more efficiently yields the transference of energy to sound.

Breguet Tradition 7087 Minute Repeater Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Breguet Tradition 7087 Minute Repeater Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

All of this is visible through sapphire crystals front and back – the latter of which also houses one more innovation designed to deliver the best acoustics with each gong strike: a gold membrane which vibrates the air in the acoustic cavity between itself and the caseback, increasing the volume of the chime while muting sounds from the movement itself. That’s largely what makes the watch so interesting to behold – every single detail, both visible and invisible (and there really aren’t many invisible ones, frankly) is all part of Breguet’s obsession with delivering desired acoustics with each actuation of the chronograph-style bayonet pusher at 10:00. Speaking of which, this is another particularly neat detail which, like the bridges and transmission chain (which diffuses stress on the movement with each activation) hail the design of Breguet’s antique pocket minute repeaters. Oddly enough, despite being an antique detail, it still adds a subtle, decidedly modern flourish to an otherwise extremely traditional complication.

Breguet Tradition 7087 Minute Repeater Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Breguet Tradition 7087 Minute Repeater Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The Breguet Tradition 7087 Minute Repeater Tourbillon certainly makes good on every millimeter of its 44mm diameter, but in the 18k rose gold variant that we tried, it remains surprisingly wearable, though it’s hardly subtle. Fully skeletonized watches are usually a polarizing lot, but maybe Breguet gets a pass here, seeing as everything within this watch was purpose-built for delivering an ultra-specific acoustic experience. Even the cool contrasting gray titanium notes in the baseplate and bridges were purposefully employed to dampen movement noises, despite the difficulty of working with the material at this scale. Rightfully so, Breguet wants to give you the means to view how their watchmakers accomplished all this. And here, the means to view it includes applications like the acoustic membrane and the peripheral oscillating rotor – both of which give you a less obstructed view of the movement.

Breguet Tradition 7087 Minute Repeater Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Breguet Tradition 7087 Minute Repeater Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

At the end of the day, there are certainly more economical ways to get Breguet’s signature blued hands on your wrist (case in point: Breguet’s Classique collection), but that’s beside the point. The Breguet Tradition 7087 Minute Repeater Tourbillon is reserved for the serious watch lover, who also happens to be an audiophile who appreciates the history and technical artistry that goes into the clarity of sound in a watch of this caliber, and wants to be able to see it firsthand. But most importantly, it’s Breguet’s singular obsession with engineering that perfect sound and the tasteful means to view it in action that make this a rare option, with exceedingly limited competition. Options like the Girard-Perregaux Minute Repeater Tourbillon come to mind, but what that watch delivers in symmetry, it arguably lacks in the contrast, legibility, and technical prowess of the Breguet. Hence, it could be argued that the asking price for both the 18k rose and white gold variants of the Breguet Tradition 7087 Minute Repeater Tourbillon is hardly unreasonable at 450,000 Swiss francs. breguet.com

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  • john coleman

    This is my grail of the grails ! Magnificent.

  • So jealous – when I was at BaselWorld 2015 I got to see this masterpiece but the chimes were not working on the prototype they showed up. Beyond the features (tourbillon, minute repeater, etc.) and the “let me see you glorious guts”, the technology of this watch just makes it better and better. Just need a video (OK, really the audio) so we can enjoy the sound which we were denied last year during the debut. But the Chronograph Independent was my favorite Brequet last year. Maybe after hearing this one, I might change my mind.

    And of course the gongs are that shape so they form the letter “B”.

    • iamcalledryan

      Yes, despite this being a thing from the heavens, the 7077 is my ultimate.

    • frauss

      The website has a video with the chiming. Unfortunately they kept the background music playing and it’s hard to hear the exact chimes. I’m surprised that they used these tones as the most pleasing out of 100K examples. I’m partial to a musical third myself but if what we hear is real, it is a very impressive sound.

      • It’s a B shaped like Jennifer Lopez or a Kardashian (much bigger on the bottom).

        • JimBob

          A limp attempt to make this a proper Breguet. 😉

  • word-merchant

    A beautiful piece of craftsmanship but I’d still rather the dial wasn’t open. I know that means the chimes would be covered but I can’t seem to get along with skeletal or open dials – to me it makes the watch unfinished. I accept I’m probably in a group of one here.

  • PleaseSpellRoman4AsIV

    I like open worked dials and the ability to see as much as possible of what is going on inside the movement. I guess it is not Breguet’s fault that I am not that interested in chiming watches so in this case it is a bit wasted on me

    Just one question comes to my mind: if everything in this watch was engineered for acoustic performance, why was there a need to add a tourbillon? 😛

    • Because at this price point, more is more I guess.

  • BrJean

    I’d like to see/hear a battle between this and Audemars Piguet Supersonnerie!

  • iamcalledryan

    This watch is a phenomenon. There are so many incredible elements coming together in what I can only describe as an horological orgy.

    The magnetic governor, the vertical hammers, the peripheral rotor, the chain transmission on the repeater mechanism, the overal aesthetic would just have me constantly bumping into walls while wearing this thing. A marvel.

  • Ulysses31

    An amazing machine, combining both traditional and modern-looking elements, and with a big clear almost borderless dial. I love the crystal too; it’s similar to the one of the Seiko Astron GPS.

  • I_G

    Steampunk without clowning. Masterpiece.

    • iamcalledryan

      How can you call an automatic a masterpiece? Did the rotor slip past your radar?

  • Twinbarrel

    Just absolutely stunning.

  • SuperStrapper

    Breathtaking. Glorious harmony of traditional charm and modern technical mega muscle.

  • IanE

    Spectacular – for me, I’d like a bit less grey. But, hey, grey is the new colour!

    • DanW94

      Good question, checked their website….Yes, power reserve indicator in an aperture at 12…..

      • IanE

        D’oh : should have looked myself! Thanks.

        • DanW94

          No problem, it was the perfect guise anyway….The wife was yelling “Are you looking at watches on the computer again”? I said no, I’m doing research on design aesthetics. (she didn’t buy it)

          • frauss

            You shoulda told her you were looking at porn. That would have gone over OK.

  • Mike Burdine

    Wow. it’s incredible.

  • wallydog2

    Zach refers to the watch’s $460,000 (US) price tag as “hardly unreasonable”.
    Hardly.

    • Didn’t Vlad get one as a parting gift from you?

      • wallydog2

        Vlad, my former driver, ran off with the Audi A8 and two or three of my Michael Kors. He’s now running some Eastern European country and wears elevator shoes. Never had a sense of humour. Never made eye contact.

        • Is he the one with the action figures of himself and who has his photo taken topless riding hores? Maybe I’m confusing him with some other Vlad who wears elevator shoes…

          • wallydog2

            “topless riding hores”: Back in the day when Sigmund was fashionable, that might have been called a “Freudian slip”. Now we call it “Not using spell-check”. Vlad, my former driver, used to be a spook in East Germany, wore a leather trenchcoat and spoke perfect German.
            Off topic, are we? It happens (during happy hore, I mean, hour.)

          • Yep – really off topic but what the heck, it’s a Sunday. Obviously this is not your Vlad, or is it?

          • iamcalledryan

            Oh gosh

          • It’s all scary!

  • Omegaboy

    A minute repeater article without a video of the sound?

  • Shirley Furby

    This series which I believe started with a “cheap” at about $27,000 dollar model has always held an eye catching attraction for me. I think skeletons are my favorite style in watches. This one falls short in it’s attraction for me. The originals glorified the “parchute” shock absorption device. Of course what I am saying may be wrong with my less than perfect ability to remember but this model with the gongs messing with the symetry is disturbing to my eyes. It is doubtless a wonderful achievement but to me the visual appeal of the series is gone. Audibly probably wonderful, visually not so much.

    • srs144

      I think that’s fair. I have the original and it’s a spot on tribute to the vintage pocketwatch from Breguet and is pure eye candy. This one is a technical marvel but not really eye candy in the same way. That said, still a work of art as BNABOD said.

      • Shirley Furby

        You are fortunate to be able to look at the original every day, thank you for your comment, Shirl.

  • BNABOD

    work of art plain and simple.

  • Reprobus Marmaritarum

    Monster movement.

  • Shinytoys

    Impressive watch certainly. I’m going to leave nose prints on the crystal to see what time it is. Minor issue really 🙂

    • iamcalledryan

      The smaller the dial the greater the functionality of the repeater 😉

      • Shinytoys

        So true Ryan !!

  • Sevenmack

    Just. Good. Watch. Porn.

  • John Kim

    So much feels. Added to Grail watch list.

  • funNactive

    I like to be able to admire the mechanics of a watch, but most importantly, it’s a watch & I want to be able to tell the time. I prefer the watch face to be the size or at least the majority of the case size. Tiny little watch dials in a large case just don’t do it for me, it’s a watch, not a bunch of mechanics with the afterthought of a dial.

  • otaking241

    If this doesn’t raise your pulse you should check and make sure you have one. Any watch fan should be tumescent by the end of this article.

    On the other hand, a (“not unreasonably” priced–ha!) half-million dollar watch should be Perfect, and this one has a glaring dingleberry on its face in the form of the power reserve cutting a chunk out of the dial. Who in their right mind could have ok’ed this? Maybe if you’re one of the target clientele you’ll have the clout to make the company correct this travesty prior to delivery?