A sprung weight on a pivoting arm jumps up and down to wind the mainspring. The modern self-winding wristwatch has a spinning weight.
What Abraham-Louis Breguet set out to achieve was at once simple and highly ambitious : a watch which would wind itself, without the aid of a key or any other external agency. In his customary fashion, Breguet never laid claim to either the idea or the term "perpétuelle", taking credit merely – if that is the appropriate word – for the invention of a system that was reliable and effective : an oscillating weight "à secousses" which responded to the wearer’s movements and ordinary walking. The oscillating weight, sprung so that it returned to its original position after each movement, pushed up two going-barrels, stopping when the springs were fully depressed.
The perfection of this system was the first major success of his career. At a time when several of his contemporaries were engaged in work on the problem without achieving any convincing results, he became the first to discover, through his oscillating platinum-weight watch a formula which would produce a reliable automatic watch. His first perpétuelle was sold to the Duc d'Orléans in 1780.
From the 1780s, his "self-winding watches" were to bring him considerable fame both at the court of Versailles and throughout Europe. Unique in its time, both technically and aesthetically, the perpétuelle – the watch of kings par excellence- remains today one of the most powerful symbols of the phenomenal creative genius of its inventor. A.-L. Breguet made and sold some sixty examples from 1787 to 1823, and we may assume (in the absence of documentary records) that in the years between 1780 and 1787 he made another twenty or thirty.
The Classique Grande Complication Tourbillon 5317 provides the perfect setting for Breguet’s most spectacular invention and undeniably the most beautiful of all horological complications, developed over 210 years ago to compensate for the effects of gravity. On the back, the "B-shaped" oscillating weight reveals the beauty of the meticulously hand-engraved movement.
The Tradition Automatique Seconde Rétrograde 7097 watch is the result of the technical and aesthetic excellence that Breguet consistently strives for. The gold winding rotor borrows its style from the movements of the period.
In 2017, Breguet gave a new face to its Marine line through a revamped aesthetic style, combining a sense of modernity and dynamism. The maritime spirit of this self-winding model continues on the back with a singular oscillating weight in gold featuring a design inspired by a ship’s rudder. The movement visible through the sapphire crystal caseback is engine-turned and reminiscent of boat decks.
While the appearance of this Tourbillon Extra-Plat Automatique model is extremely understated on the front, its movement is nonetheless richly decorated. The bridges, barrel and oscillating weight are hand-engraved. Crafted in platinum for greater inertia, the latter rotates on the periphery of the calibre, thus providing a clearer view of the movement as well as ensuring its slimness. The Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat Automatique 5367 measures a mere 7.45 mm thick and its movement just 3 mm.
In 2019, leaning on a wealth of watchmaking know-how, the House of Breguet unveils the Marine watch collection for women, inspired by our oceans. As a specialist in guillochage (or engine-turning), Breguet has designed an original motif that reflects the flow of waves on the dial. The artisans of the House of Breguet have made this demanding design come alive on mother-of-pearl, a particularly fragile material, which graces the dial and rotor of the movement for this collection. Available in steel as well as rose or white gold, the Marine also features precious variations, with the bezel ringed and illuminated by diamonds. For the gold models, the diamond setting is continued on the bevel of the rotor.