While headquartered today in the hallowed Vallée de Joux in Switzerland, the story of Breguet begins in the heart of Paris, on the Ile de la Cité in the middle of the Seine river. It was here in 1775 that Abraham-Louis Breguet first opened his workshop, developing many of the innovations and techniques we take for granted in modern watchmaking today. For its latest release, Breguet pays tribute to this original Quai de l’Horloge workshop with a stunningly intricate reimagining of its Classique Double Tourbillon series. The resulting Breguet Classique Double Tourbillon 5345 Quai de l’Horloge is one of the most complex and richly decorated models in the brand’s current lineup, showcasing the full range of its technical and artistic capabilities.
The 46mm platinum case of the Breguet Classique Double Tourbillon 5345 Quai de l’Horloge takes on the classically inspired Breguet form, with thin straight lugs accented by the signature coin edged mid case structure. With such a wide diameter and a hefty 16.8mm thickness, this should be far from a shrinking violet on most wrists, but with the opulence of the rest of the design this heft might be almost fitting. Naturally, this is far from a daily wear timepiece in any circumstances, and as a showcase of craftsmanship the larger size gives a broader canvas for Breguet’s designers to work upon.
Strictly speaking, the dial of the Breguet Classique Double Tourbillon 5345 Quai de l’Horloge is limited to a slender sapphire ring, individually numbered and engraved with classical, blue filled Roman numerals. The rest of the space underneath the crystal is ornately skeletonized, with a revolving main plate balanced by a pair of both tourbillons and mainspring barrels. The classic blued Breguet hands are present here, with the hours hand also acting as a bridge between the two tourbillons. In order to equalize output between these complex twin escapements, both feed into a differential. In a reverse of the type found in a rear wheel drive car, this differential combines the two separate torque inputs into one equalized output with an average rate for the gear train. Along with these two tourbillons, the view from underneath the crystal is dominated by a pair of small mainspring barrels, each ornately topped with a hand polished bridge shaped like the Breguet script “B.”
The view of the in-house Cal. 588N hand-wound dual tourbillon movement through the caseback is no less ornate, but the execution is drastically different. Equipped with nearly complete bridges across the entire width of the movement, each of these bridge plates is part of a larger, hand-engraved rendering of the original Parisian Quai de l’Horloge Breguet workshop. The etching is intricately detailed and looks to be bold in scale, but the drastic departure from more the traditional styles of finishing that Breguet is known for may not be to everyone’s taste. In terms of performance, this complex 738-piece movement is adjusted in six positions and offers a 50-hour power reserve at a slow 18,000 bph beat rate.
While the majority of the design of the Breguet Classique Double Tourbillon 5345 Quai de l’Horloge is traditional, if more than a bit ostentatious, the strap pairing takes a decidedly different tack. Aiming to match the spectacle of the skeleton dial and caseback, the surface of the strap itself is made of stone. This is not a simulated texture or a recreated pattern in leather, the top layer of the strap is made from an extremely thin sheet of natural slate. While initial press materials make no mention of the flexibility or comfort of this unorthodox option, it does add a punch of more modernist spectacle. For comfort, this top layer of slate is adhesively bonded to a rubber inner strap in vibrant royal blue.
The Breguet Classique Double Tourbillon 5345 Quai de l’Horloge is one of the brand’s most ornate and complex offerings in recent years, and while the dramatic treatment may not be universally liked there can be little doubt of the level of craftsmanship the brand has put into this tribute to its birthplace. The Breguet Classique Double Tourbillon 5345 Quai de l’Horloge is available now through authorized dealers at an MSRP of $631,000. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.