Abraham-Louis Breguet, who lived from 1747 to 1823, is considered one of the greatest watchmakers of all time. Kings, queens, and emperors from all over the world, including Marie Antoinette, Napoleon Bonaparte, and the Queen of Naples, commissioned timepiece creations from A.-L. Breguet. Aside from incredible aesthetics and artistry, A.-L. Breguet was also notable for his bevy of timekeeping innovations and inventions—many of which are still used in modern watchmaking.
Today, the house of Montres Breguet carries on his legacy by manufacturing some of the grandest Swiss-made watches in the luxury market. One such example of Breguet’s fine work is the spectacular Breguet Héritage Grande Complication watch, which marries familiar Breguet hallmarks with an unconventional watch silhouette.
Breguet Heritage 5497BR/12/9V6
A departure from the traditional round case, the Breguet Héritage collection offers watches with curvy barrel-shaped cases while still retaining signature Breguet design traits. From this collection hails the Breguet Héritage Grande Complication ref. 5497BR/12/9V6 watch, crafted in 18k rose gold. The tonneau (which is French for “barrel”) case measures a generous 42mm by 35mm but remains elegant on the wrist thanks to its slim 12.24mm profile.
The shape of the case may be non-traditional for Breguet but the rest of the watch maintains all the design details the renowned brand is known for. For example, the sides of the case are decorated with the famed Breguet fluting. Moreover, like many other Breguet watches, the silvered gold dial of this Héritage watch was hand-engraved on a rose engine to produce intricate guilloché patterns throughout the surface. On that surface, we see two subsidiary dials outlined by rose gold frames where the upper dial displays the hours and minutes while the bottom one is reserved for the running seconds and tourbillon.
As expected, the hour and minute hands are fashioned in the typical “Breguet hands” style, characterized by a rich blue hue and hollow moon tips. Furthermore, sitting inside the hour and minute subdial is the customary Breguet signature and unique watch number. Another intriguing touch on the dial is the design of the Roman numeral hour markers (another Breguet favorite), which are cut out in a single piece and applied to the dial.
The real star of the show, however, is the constantly rotating tourbillon mechanism whirling away at the 6 o’clock position, which hypnotizes onlookers by making one full rotation every minute.
Powering the Breguet Héritage Grande Complication ref. 5497BR/12/9V6 is the hand-wound Caliber 187H movement, which is mostly shielded by a rose gold caseback except for a small sapphire crystal window behind the tourbillon. The movement supplies the watch with around 50 hours of power reserve.
The black leather strap is a handsome contrast to the rosy tone of the case and it is furnished with a matching rose gold deployant clasp marked with the “B” of Breguet. Given that A.-L. Breguet invented the tourbillon in the 1800s to improve the accuracy of pocket chronometers, a modern-day Breguet tourbillon wristwatch, like this Héritage Grande Complication, is a remarkable object to own and wear.