Breguet’s Marine family of maritime-inspired luxury sports watches welcomes three new members to the nautical club. Less conservative and grandiose than Breguet’s usual fare, the three models of the Marine 5517 – in 18k white gold, 18k rose gold and titanium cases – come with a splash of contemporary styling. A traditional three-hand watch with date functions, the 5571 trilogy plays with juxtaposing shapes, textures and materials to appeal to a broader public.
In addition to commissions from his illustrious royal patrons, Abraham-Louis Breguet was appointed official chronometer-maker to the French Royal Navy, the most prestigious title to which a horologist could aspire. His high-precision marine chronometers, which allowed ships to calculate their position at sea, were of vital importance to France’s fleets. For a brand like Breguet to exploit this honourable and legitimate historical connection was only natural and led to the creation in 1990 of the modern Marine Collection.
The hull of the Breguet Marine 5517
Revisited in 2005 with a sportier design ethos, the Marine Collection pieces we are looking at today are the direct offspring of the 2017 model – without the complications. As you will remember, the Marine Collection was revamped last year with the hyper-complicated Marine Équation Marchante 5887, a mighty vessel with a perpetual calendar, an equation of time and a tourbillon on board. The Breguet Marine 5517 trilogy, a relatively simple three-hander with date functions, shares a similar hull construction with its complicated sibling.
The 40mm case, available in titanium and rose and white gold (the latter isn’t shown in this article), picks up on the more dynamic, modern styling of the latest generation Marines. Juxtaposing a classic round case with bold, almost industrial squared lugs is a brave design move. To give the design a sensation of coherence and continuity, the tripartite lugs are satin-brushed like the case providing a contrast to the polished bezel, crown and protectors. The hallmark fluted case band, a feature common to all Breguet watches, has been reworked and the crown protectors attest to the water-resistance of the case, which can fathom depths of 100 metres.
The sportiest of all three is the titanium model with its sunburst slate grey dial. And although you would probably never participate in a regatta or go diving with this watch, the light yet robust titanium case, which can weather salty air and corrosion, gives the watch a modern touch.
The upper deck of the Breguet Marine 5517
Engine-turned or guilloché dials are very much a Breguet speciality. Using engine-turning lathes built over a century ago, craftsmen engrave intricate patterns into the gold dial, which are then silver coated. Both the white gold and red gold models feature beautifully engine-turned gold dials decorated with wave motifs; the white gold model features a blue engraved dial while the rose gold has a more classic silver dial. The titanium model also has a gold dial but has not been engraved and displays a contemporary sunburst slate grey colour.
The new design codes on board the 5517 include the counterweight of the central seconds hand tipped with a letter ‘B’ that reproduces the nautical signal for ‘Bravo’ and the five-minute markers that evoke the shape of nautical pennants. However, the most distinctive feature of these watches is the incorporation of Roman numerals. Not just any Roman numerals, mind you, but monolithic, bold Roman numerals, unlike the Breguet’s stylised Arabic numerals that we are used to seeing.
Their commanding presence on the dial is amplified even further by their reflection in the interior area of the bezel. What is even more striking though is the fact that the applied Roman numerals have been filled in with luminescent material, along with the nautical pennants, the minute dots and the tips of the Breguet-style hands. The date window, positioned at 3 o’clock, widens towards the periphery of the dial and is well-integrated in the overall composition.
The screw-down case back comes with a sapphire crystal to reveal Breguet’s in-house automatic movement –Calibre 777A – with its inverted in-line lever escapement, silicon balance spring, 4Hz frequency and 55-hour power reserve. Although the press release refers to the design of the rotor as being “inspired by a ship’s rudder”, I think this is a case of ‘lost in translation’ because it looks much more like a ship’s wheel to me. The bridges have also been engine-turned and decorated with thick stripes reminiscent of the planks on a ship’s decking.
All three models of the new Marine 5517 are available with either a leather or rubber strap. The white and rose gold models retail for EUR 28,000 and the titanium model for EUR 18,000. More details at www.breguet.com.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.