Photo Essay: Breguet La Tradition

Ming Thein
February 28, 2012
Photo Essay: Breguet La Tradition

The Breguet La Tradition was launched in the mid-2000s to much fanfare and many subsequently mixed reviews amongst fans and connoisseurs – here was a watch that put the escapement on the dial side, was constructed in a very traditional 18th century style (note the odd, almost arbitrary shape of the bridges and sub-plates), finished unusually (but very well indeed) and launched at a reasonably accessible price for what it offered.

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Even the architecture was pretty unusual: the time dial was pushed to the top of the watch, regulateur-style, with the barrel in the center and going train laid out across the bottom of the watch. There’s also a little power reserve indicator tucked away at top-right, minimally decorated so as not to interfere with the symmetric aesthetic of the watch.

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But then we turned it over, and were surprised by the vast emptiness on the top plate – sure, most of the going train was put on the front, but I think what looked odd to most people was not the emptiness – but the vertical height between the top plate and rear sapphire. I was told that this was the way watches during that period were designed and laid out; no milled recesses for components, just a plate with everything else bolted on to it. I still think a little deviation here and there for the sake of aesthetics would be acceptable – there’s no way they’d use 18th century oils on the escapement, either.

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The La Tradition line has spawned a number of complications, some of which do actually use the extra space on the top plate to good effect – the tourbillon, for instance both fills out the front of the dial and the top plate well. It just looks more ‘complete’ to the eye. Whilst I personally prefer the monochrome color scheme with WG case and anthracite dial (similar to the tourbillon) – there’s no denying that the traditional gold version has its appeal too.

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But enough of that, to the photographs. As usual, clicking on any of them will bring you to a larger version. The series was shot with a mix of equipment – the Nikon D700 and 60/2.8 macro; Leica M9-P, bellows and Zeiss 2/50 Planar; and finally, the Olympus Pen Mini. Furthermore, if you’re interested in how I made some of the higher magnification ones, please have a look at these two articles on my photography site (The never-ending quest for more magnification; Macrophotography and the Leica M) which both go into more of the technical details. MT

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