Typically watches with an equation of time complication require that the wearer engage his or her brain, ever so slightly. Because such watches usually show the equation of time, which is the difference between real solar time and local time, watch dials typically indicate this with a sub-dial and a secondary small hand. It is then up to the user to mentally add or subtract the difference displayed from the current time in order to calculate true solar time.
The new Marine Équation Marchante 5887 from Breguet lets the observer relax. Instead of a display showing the differences between the two times, the dial on this Baselworld 2017 debut from Breguet simultaneously indicates civil (local) time and true solar time with two separate minute hands.
The running solar hand, with its easily identified golden sun, provides a direct reading of solar time minutes. This almost instant reading, clearly more user friendly than most available on other dials, conceals a complex set of calculations and watchmaking construction choices Breguet made to create this watch, which is the latest in Breguet’s nautically themed Marine series.
The other choices Breguet has made here are also quite complicated. In addition to developing the novel equation of time equation, Breguet opted to complement it with a perpetual calendar and a tourbillon.
While the former makes perfect sense as a natural extension of the calculations already programmed into the equation of time function, adding a tourbillon gives the watch three major complications. This third function, quite on purpose, satisfies the generally agreed-upon requirements for a Grande Complication, which Breguet generally develops for its Classique collection.
Adding the tourbillon also gave Breguet a literal window of opportunity. Look at the dial of this new watch and you’ll see an odd figure-8-shaped cam in a sapphire disc just above the tourbillon, sharing the aperture. That cam, which rotates once a year, is how watchmakers ‘program’ into the movement the annual changes in the distance between the sun and the earth. All equation-of-time watches utilize such a cam, and Breguet has decided to expose it for all to admire.
It’s an unusual display on the front of the watch, probably the first of its kind, but there’s more to its novelty than simply where it’s located.
Breguet was able to show equation of time with the sun-tipped hand only because its watchmakers developed a patented differential gear attached to the hand. Two independent rotation sources (the rotation of civil minutes, and that controlled by the lever in contact with the equation of time cam) affect how the sun-tipped hand moves. This equation of time hand is ‘running’, which is the rough translation of marchante from the original French.
The perpetual calendar is more self-explanatory: Two apertures – one between 10 and 11 o’clock and the other between 1 and 2 o’clock – respectively display the days of the week as well as the months and the leap-year cycle. The date appears inside the chapter ring via a retrograde anchor-tipped hand that sweeps across an arc at the top of the dial.
The 60-second tourbillon underneath the LIGA-manufactured figure-8 cam betrays the expertise Breguet has developed in the centuries since its namesake constructed the first such regulator. Made of titanium, the tourbillon houses a balance with a silicon balance spring and escape wheel, both of which conspire to maintain a strong 80-hour power reserve. Look closely at the large bridge above the tourbillon and you’ll see the words “Marine Royale” engraved.
The dial features two types of engine turning, including an appropriate wave pattern Breguet has developed only for this watch. Turning the Breguet Marine Équation Marchante over you’ll note that the bridges have been chased to depict the Royal Louis, a vessel in the French Royal Navy. More nautical décor here includes a barrel adorned with a wind-rose motif, a reference to astronomical navigation. Thankfully Breguet has opted to power the mainspring with its platinum peripheral rotor so that the sumptuously decorated back of the movement can be admired.
The Breguet Marine Équation Marchante comes with a 43.9mm-diameter case in rose gold or platinum. The rose gold version ($215,000) frames a silvered dial and an anthracite movement, while the platinum interpretation ($230,400) has a blue dial and a rhodium-plated movement.
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Specifications: Breguet Marine Équation Marchante
Case: 43.9mm platinum or rose gold with fluted case band. Sapphire-crystal caseback, water-resistant to 100 meters
Dial: Gold, engine-turned, individually numbered and signed, hours chapter with Roman numerals and luminescent dots. Breguet facetted hands in 18-karat gold with luminescent material. Running solar hand with facetted golden sun. Days of the week in an aperture between 10 and 11 o’clock. Months and leap-year cycle in an aperture between 1 and 2 o’clock. Retrograde dates indication on an arc running from 9 to 3 o’clock. Power reserve in an aperture between 7 and 9 o’clock.
Movement: Self-winding movement Cal. 581DPE, numbered and signed with running equation of time, perpetual calendar, tourbillon and 80-hour power reserve Small seconds and equation of time cam on the tourbillon axis. Silicon escapement wheel and inverted lateral lever with silicon horns. Silicon balance spring, balance frequency 4Hz. Peripheral oscillating weight.
Strap: Alligator leather with gold folding clasp.