Inspired by the Souscription watches of the late 18th century, the Tradition collection is, in my opinion, the true cornerstone of Breguet's catalogue. Indeed, it has given a dynamic impetus to the brand thanks to its various models whose mechanisms are visible on the dial side. These watches, while greatly respecting the heritage of Abraham-Louis Breguet, are part of an approach that I would describe as contemporary, and by the same token, a rejuvenation of the classic range. The first Tradition watches had a contained diameter (37mm) and were powered by a hand-wound movement. They were immediately appealing some fifteen years ago thanks to their original... classicism, which gave pride of place to the movement whose symmetrical architecture paid homage to the pare-chute, the ancestor of the incabloc. The time display seemed almost incidental, housed in a small off-centre guilloché dial. Indeed, the aim was above all to showcase the mobile elements of the movement such as the central barrel, the balance wheel, the gear train, etc. Our gaze was then immediately drawn to these elements and in particular to the oscillations of the blance wheel. We have to look back to that time. In 2005, apart from the tourbillons, watches with a visible balance wheel on the dial side were not so numerous and I can say that these hand-wound Tradition watches initiated a trend that did not falter in the following years.
Breguet subsequently evolved its collection: complications arrived, the cases were enlarged and even automatic movements took their place, whereas handwind movements seemed to be the most appropriate for the context. But in all cases, Breguet was able to work on the architecture of its movements so that the guidelines of the Tradition collection would remain.
The Manufacture has just presented the brand new watch in the collection: the Tradition Quantième Rétrograde 7597. And once again, Breguet has been very inspired because the work of integrating the complication, the date display, is remarkable. Basically, the addition of the date did not seem indispensable to me. I prefer watches without and especially those with open dials. But I must admit that the result here is very convincing. For a very good reason: the coherence of the whole.
This is not the first time that Breguet has used a retrograde system with a Tradition, since the reference 7097, for example, has a retrograde second hand. The brand-new reference 7597 also has a retrograde display, but this time it is dedicated to dates, a judicious choice for several reasons:
- the date display occupies the lower peripheral zone of the dial, leaving almost all the space for the movement.
- due to the size of the arc of a circle, the dates are readable
- the hand of the display has a stepped shape and contributes to the feeling of volume and depth of the watch
- the retrograde second hand of the 7097 has been removed. The organisation of the dial (if I may use that word) of the watch is becoming more harmonious and symmetrical. I find the reference 7597 much more attractive from an aesthetic point of view compared to the 7097.
The diameter of the reference 7597 is 40mm, like that of the 7097. The detail that differentiates them at first glance is the presence of a screwed corrector at 10 o'clock in the reference 7597. This push-piece is dedicated to the quick setting of the date. The case is available in pink or white gold with the same movement finish, in the most beautiful grey shades. The sandblasted bridges and plate contribute to the charm of the whole. Without being spectacular, the finish is irreproachable and above all makes you want to immerse yourself in the many details. As always, it is the balance and the escapement wheels that catch the eye first. As the balance wheel's oscillations are the best indicator the the movement works, the absence of a second hand is not a problem. To be frank, I have always found it to be useless with a Tradition. The contrast between the moving parts and the bridges is clearly perceptible but remains harmonious. There is nothing that swears, everything seems to be in the right place and with the right colour. Of course, it is the hands that stand out best, namely the two blued hands of the time display above the guilloché dial at noon, but also the large date hand.
Removing the second hand allows the off-centre dial to breathe more easily and the watch appears more balanced. The back of the watch reveals the gold winding mass inspired by ancient movements. I really like this mass. Given the way the movement is organised, it is the main attraction of the back of the watch. However, the plate and bridge of the automatic winding mechanism offer the same quality of finish as on the dial side.
The performance of the 505Q calibre that powers the 7597 reference is quite correct in this sophisticated context. The power reserve is 50 hours for a frequency of 3hz. It should be noted that this calibre is in line with Breguet's trend to favour the use of silicon. The balance-spring and the horns of the reverse in-line lever escapement are thus made of silicon. Personally, I would prefer the brand to do without it, as I am not an absolute fan of the use of silicon, whose long-term reliability I find difficult to perceive. But that's another debate... and silicon has other virtues, including that of reducing energy consumption, which is welcome in the context of a special watch such as the Tradition.
In any case, the Tradition reference 7597 is a very beautiful watch. And for the first time in a long time, I prefer this variation with date than without. The integration of the date is perfect, because it is relevant and harmonious. The watch gains in balance, all with good readability. I would surely have preferred a date setting by the crown to remove the corrector at 10 o'clock, which slightly breaks up the elegant lines. But this would surely have required more complex technical solutions. The chosen solution offers the best compromise... and this push-piece ends up being forgotten because the magic of the movement inevitably works.
The Tradition reference 7597 is available in France in pink gold at a price of 36,900 euros including taxes and in white gold at a price of 37,200 euros.
+ perfect integration of the date display
+ the quality of the overall finishes
+ the removal of the second hand because it seemed useless to me.
- the 10 o'clock corrector is a bit unsightly.