This year, Breguet introduced its “introductory” tourbillon caliber to its seafaring Marine line. The watches, available in rose gold or platinum, come with the six-figure price you’d expect and seek to offer a simple sports watch — with a tourbillon. It’s not the most natural combination, but it manages itself in a way that’s enchanting if not perfect. Having had some time with the rose gold version, I can say that the Breguet Marine Tourbillon 5577 is an undeniably attractive watch that just barely misses the mark for me.
Despite being the main attraction, the dial is also where I think the watch falters. There is certainly a lot to like here. The slate grey dial features alternating finishes, with the hour and minute ring offering a matte contrast against the sunburst foundation. The beveled brand name and the sunburst pattern’s continuity through it are an excellent touch. The handset with its novel offset, bisected lume design was incredibly attractive in hand and on the wrist. The simple, tourbillon bridge telegraphed an understated sophistication; this isn’t some massive gold tourbillon cage with dramatic architecture (though Breguet does offer some, if you like).
Where the design stumbles is the hour and minute markings. Mind you, these are things I didn’t really care about when I was admiring the watch on my wrist, but certainly things that I dwelt upon as I examined it more closely and edited these photos, which is to say, they are things that might niggle at you as you have the watch for any measurable amount of time. First, both the lumed applied indices and the luminescent minute plots are nowhere near as refined as the rest of the watch. The sans serif typeface and the rounded corners are almost childlike next to the brand’s logo and the tourbillon.
These indices and markings are the standard for the Marine collection, but are made to stand out even more by the tourbillon’s inclusion and also by the tourbillon’s effect. At 4 o’clock, the minute track bulges out awkwardly, creating a needless imbalance on a watch that already has an offset dial. On Breguet’s Classique Tourbillon, the tourbillon gets its own full seconds track and the minute markers are simply omitted. While I don’t think a seconds ring would’ve been a good look, I would’ve strongly preferred the ring to have simply been interrupted. Alternatively, I think giving the central dial the same wave motif that features on many Marine timepieces would’ve helped balance out the playfulness of the markers.
The case doesn’t mess around with the Marine collection’s design. The rose gold case is warm and welcoming, with a midcase with recessed grooving and the Marine collection’s signature crown and equally unique crown guards. Most of the case is polished, but the three-pronged lugs get a crisp brushed finishing. I’ve always enjoyed this case design, and in person it didn’t disappoint, wearing easily and feeling decidedly classy, especially for a six-figure watch with 100m water resistance. The rubber strap was comfortable, and I appreciated the nautical continuity with the ship’s wheel clasp. The overall effect of the Marine design is exactly what I imagine Breguet intended: a watch that brings a bit of sport to the heritage brand. At the same time, it is a sporty elegance rather than an elegant sportiness: the watch remains firmly situated on the formal side of things, and the tourbillon only reinforces that. (For those who must have a Breguet, but want something sportier, the only real option is a Type XX.)
The Breguet Marine Tourbillon 5577 is equipped with the beautiful self-winding Calibre 581. This is the brand’s simplest execution of the Tourbillon, but still impresses technically and aesthetically. The decoration gives the reverse of the watch a much more old-timey feeling than the dial side. The ornate compass rose covering the mainspring barrel, the wave motif engraved into the peripheral rotor, and the serif majuscule typeface reminded me of exquisitely detailed old maps. The Geneva striping and anglage give the plates an elevated look. The Calibre 581 offers an impressive 80-hour power reserve at 28,800 vph.
Breguet does an admirable job in showcasing its trademark complication here, though struggles to pair it with the sportier case and dial design of the Marine collection. Ultimately, it doesn’t quite do justice to the coveted horological mechanism in the way the Classique Tourbillons do. When I had it on, I wasn’t much bothered by its imperfect design, which I think probably says as much about me as it does about the watch. While it may not be an ideal marriage, the watch delivers on the Breguet promise of a high-end, beautifully finished timepiece with an excellent movement and looks good even if it may not be the best tourbillon in the brand’s catalog. The Breguet Marine Tourbillon 5577 is priced at $151,500 USD. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.