The tourbillon was officially born on the 26th of June 1801 from the scientific and horologically inclined mind of Abraham-Louis Breguet. His starting point was the observation that Earth’s gravity was the enemy of watch movements’ regularity, since back then timepieces were mainly worn vertically along the body. The effect of gravity caused variations in rate. To solve this problem of terrestrial gravity, the founder of the House of Breguet came up with the idea of installing the entire escapement inside a mobile carriage performing one complete rotation per minute. The errors were thus regularly reproduced and cancelled each other out. In addition, the perpetual change in the balance pivots’ point of contact in their jewelled bearings ensured better lubrication. This reasoning marked the invention of the tourbillon.
More than 220 years later, this watchmaking mechanism continues to stand out as one of the most fascinating horological creations to which Breguet pays tribute by including it in its Marine collection.
The 42.5 mm case houses self-winding Calibre 581, an ultra-thin movement measuring just 3 mm thick, and comprising 330 components. This thinness is made possible by the use of a peripheral rotor. The balance beats at a frequency of 4 Hertz and has an impressive power reserve of 80 hours. To ensure it incorporates all the latest innovations, the calibre is fitted with a carriage in titanium and balance-spring in silicon. This material with multiple properties including resistance to both corrosion and wear, along with insensitivity to the influence of magnetic fields. The finishing of the movement of the new Breguet watch is revealed through the sapphire case-back. The barrel drum bears a compass rose. Various decorations typical of the Marine line are also present, including a straight ribbed motif.
The sunburst dial of the new 5577 references is slate-grey coloured for the rose gold version and navy blue for the platinum model. The tourbillon located at 5 o’clock catches the eye with its cage rotating in 60 seconds. The chapter ring has been off-centred so as to highlight this mechanism, while, the hour-markers and the open-tipped gold Breguet hands are luminescent.
Recognised as an outstanding scientist and technician, Abraham-Louis Breguet saw his destiny become entwined with that of the French Navy in 1814 when he became a member of the Bureau des Longitudes by royal decree. One of the roles of the bureau’s members was to manage the problems associated with using astronomy to determine longitude at sea. A year later, King Louis XVIII awarded him one of the most prestigious titles: that of Chronometer-maker by appointment to the Royal Navy. From then on, the greatest explorers’ fleets sailed equipped with a timekeeping system by Breguet. This new timepiece is therefore a twofold tribute to the brand’s founder through its strong links to both maritime navigation and astronomy.