For a manufacture like Breguet, literally everything is possible. Thus, this year at Baselworld 2015, we had the opportunity to work on this hands-on review of the new Breguet Tradition Chronographe Indépendant ref. 7077 —Independet Chronograph—, a 20-minute chronograph. This new chronograph is a true feat of horology and one of the most amazing complications. Measuring elapsed times provides immediate visualization of the desired function, but making it work is an additional mechanical challenge, because starting a chronograph disturbs the main gear trains. To alleviate this problem, Breguet has fitted its new Tradition Chronographe Indépendant ref. 7077 model with two independent trains. This new Independent Chronograph is fitted with a robust round case measuring 44 mm in diameter and available in either 18K rose gold or 18K white gold. All traditional characteristics of a Breguet timepiece are present including the case band fluting, the Breguet secret signatures and the handmade Guilloché.
The first going train is for the hours and minutes, regulated by a 3Hz balance and having a power reserve of 50 hours. The second going train is exclusive to the chronograph with a 5Hz frequency to ensure more precise readings, in harmony with the one devoted to measuring the passing of time. Breguet’s research into high frequencies shows that a higher rate of oscillations improves the stability of rate, since any disturbance is corrected more quickly. The two trains are entirely disconnected and the movement remains unaffected when the chronograph is started. The chronograph function of this new Tradition Independent Chronograph is controlled by two pushers that are screwed-in to keep water out and make this watch resistant to 30 meters. Contrary to customary chronographs, one pusher is devoted to starting the measurement, while the other stops and resets the chronograph to zero. The pushers are located completely opposite from each other at the bottom of the left and right case bands.
Normally, a second train implies a second barrel to provide the energy required by the chronograph. This approach nonetheless needs more space and above all means that the owner of the watch must wind up the chronograph barrel spring as well as the going barrel. With the Tradition Independent Chronograph ref. 7077, Breguet technicians have introduced a new type of spring perfectly suited for the chronograph function. The energy required to drive the chronograph, is provided by the user when operating the reset-to-zero function, then this energy is stored in a flexed blade spring. The power reserve of this historical type of spring amounts to no more than 20 minutes, but this is ideal for measuring short elapsed times. The system enables the user to start the chronograph instantly, without worrying about the energy available, because it will always be at its maximum. To ensure that the spring is fully flexed, Breguet has designed a shape that guarantees enough elasticity to provide extra energy when arming the spring.
The engine-turned dial in silvered gold showing the hours and minutes is offset at 12 o'clock, while the chronograph hand is fixed in the center of the watch. The chronograph-activation indicator is a blue hand at 6 o'clock. Directly opposite to each other, at 2 o'clock and 10 o'clock two retrograde hands respectively indicate the power reserve of the watch and the chronograph minutes, while the two balance-wheels beat side by side at 4 o'clock and 8 o'clock.
The application of the blade spring principle by Breguet’s watchmakers has given rise to a number of innovations. A non-concentric going train has been associated with the blade spring so as to even out the torque and achieve constant amplitude and rate of the chronograph. A patent has been filed for the entire spring and train assembly. Instead of following its usual curve, the shape of the train has been calculated to transmit constant force to the chronograph. In addition, the new Breguet Chronographe Indépendant ref. 7077 is fitted with a patented chronograph balance-wheel in titanium ensuring perfect symmetry with the movement balance-wheel. The use of a heavier material for the balance-wheel would have meant making it smaller. The overall appearance would be affected, especially since one of the features of the Tradition collection is to make the main parts of the movement visible on the baseplate. The two balance-wheels are thus the same size, despite their different frequencies, and their position is in tune with aesthetic considerations.
The new Breguet Tradition Independent Chronograph ref. 7077 is powered by the manual wound chronograph movement calibre 580DR numbered and signed Breguet. The calibre comes with a power reserve of 50 hours and with 62 jewels. As explained earlier, the movement includes two different oscillators beating at different frequencies. This amazing calibre is fully visible via the display case back. The decoration and finishing of the movement is just exceptional and in-line with the values of the brand.
Fitted with a very elegant hand-sewn brown alligator strap with deployant buckle the watch wears slightly bigger than its actual size and with impressive wrist presence. If you have a wrist smaller than 7.25" in circumference, this is a watch that might be difficult for you to wear. The Breguet Tradition Independent Chonograph ref. 7077 in 18K rose gold bears reference 7077BR/G1/9XV, while the 18K white gold model bears reference 077BB/G1/9XV.
Sticker Price $78,900 USD for 18K rose gold and $79,700 USD for 18K white gold. For more info on Breguet click here.