3237 | white gold
The Breguet Origin
Born in Neuchâtel, Abraham-Louis Breguet would go on to pioneer significant technical and aesthetic innovations during his career, with his influence carrying through to the present day. The watchmaker spearheaded a number of inventions, including the over-coil hairspring and the tourbillon, which he first invented in 1795 and patented in 1801. It is no coincidence that he remains the most cited reference point for accomplished watchmakers centuries later, from George Daniels to François-Paul Journe.
The brand bearing his name enjoyed success during the 18th and 19th century, producing pieces for distinguished European figures, from King Louis XVI to Queen Marie Antoinette. As its moved into the 20th century, the brand dramatically changed its focus, principally producing pilot’s chronographs for the military. Though they occasionally made more classical timepieces - such as one of only three retrograde perpetual calendars from the 20th century - their focus was decidedly more utilitarian than Abraham-Louis Breguet had initially intended.
The Rebirth of Breguet
In 1970, Jacques and Pierre Chaumet took over Breguet, in the hopes of reinvigorating the brand and renewing the connection between the Breguet name and high-end watchmaking. Shortly thereafter, the brothers closed the French factory and moved production to the Vallée de Joux in Switzerland, the epicentre of Swiss watchmaking.
In order to restore the brand to its former glory, Jacques and Pierre would need a Master Watchmaker to help. They approached Daniel Roth, who’d demonstrated his talent over seven years working at Audemars Piguet, which he’d joined as the only watchmaker who didn’t come from Le Brassus, the brand’s historic home. Inspired by the work of the famous watchmaker, Roth agreed to help resuscitate the manufacture, though only after going back to school to further study Breguet’s archives and techniques.
François Bodet, the director of the brand, and Roth worked together to define the Breguet aesthetic in wristwatch form, as well as introduce a range of new models and complications to their collection. The engine-turned dials, coin case and distinctive Breguet hands have become signature features of these pieces. From perpetual calendars to tourbillons, they embraced the high-end complicated watchmaking first personified by Abraham-Louis Breguet.
"Tuxedo" Chronograph ref. 3237
The Chronograph ref. 3237 was one of the earliest pieces introduced by Breguet after it was resuscitated by the Chaumet brothers, integrating many of the design codes from the past, whilst also introducing new details. This manual-wind chronograph was powered by the venerable Lemania 2310 ébauche, which is also at the heart of other notable pieces from the period, such as the Patek Philippe ref. 5070 or Roger Dubuis Hommage Chronographs. It’s telling that, years later, when Roth established his own independant brand, he kept using the Lemania 2310 base.
Almost all examples of the ref. 3237 feature the classic Breguet dial, which is an off-white colour throughout. However, it appears that Breguet also produced a small number of these chronographs with an unusual two-tone “tuxedo” dial, with only three examples having appeared publicly to date. The three pieces which have surfaced are all cased in a different metals - yellow, rose and white gold - suggesting Breguet may have produced one dial for each metal, making this white gold example unique amongst those known. All three appear to have been first sold by Breguet in the same two year period.
A Classic Design
The design is that of a two-register chronograph, with contrasting textures and tones throughout. Made out of solid gold, the dial features a sharply executed Clous de Paris pattern in a silvery grey colour. Meanwhile, the chronograph counters feature a contrasting guilloché pattern, surrounded by a brushed contour. The chapter ring is executed in a deep, black colour, with Roman numerals printed in silver. The contrast in colour and finishing, as well as the layout on several levels, gives a satisfying depth to the design.
The dial is signed “BREGUET” at 12 o’clock and “N. XXXX” at 6 o’clock, where the watch’s unique number is displayed. The tradition of numbering watches on the dial appears to have been carried over from earlier wristwatches by Abraham-Louis Breguet. The Breguet hands, another visual inspiration from the watchmaker, are rendered in blue steel. As is typical of Breguet pieces from the period, the dial is hand-finished, which is subtly alluded to with the “SWISS GUILLOCHÉ MAIN” signature at 6 o’clock.
The white gold case is typical of the Breguet style of wristwatches which Bodet and Roth helped cement. Classically sized at 36mm, it features straight lugs and a distinctive fluted middle section, reminiscent of a coin. The caseback displays the watch’s reference number, as well as its serial number, which matches the one displayed on the dial.
A Venerable Ébauche
Assembled by hand in the brand’s Vallée du Joux workshop, this Breguet Chronograph ref. 3237 is powered by a finely-finished Lemania 2310 ébauche, which can also be found in the Patek Philippe 5070 and Roger Dubuis Hommage Chronographs. At the time of production of this piece, Breguet actually owned the Nouvelle Lemania manufacture, which they’d purchased in 1991.
The movement features a 21 jewel, straight-line lever escapement, a monometallic balance adjusted to 5 positions, a self-compensating Breguet spring and swan-neck micrometer regulator. Aesthetically, the calibre is finished to a very high standard. It features exquisite chamfering on all angles, polishing and decoration, in the form of Geneva striping.
The watch comes with a wooden Breguet box, Certificate of Origin, manual and leather pouch. It was first sold in 1999, by Barozzi in Italy. It comes on one of our grey Tokyo straps, alongside its white gold Breguet buckle.
Viewings are currently suspended for the time being.
|Model:||Chronograph ref. 3237|
|Movement:||manual-winding calibre, based on Lemania 2310|
|Functions:||chronograph, hours, minutes, sub-seconds|
|Features:||tuxedo dial, white gold case
|Crystal:||sapphire front and back|
|Strap:||Tokyo strap, white gold Breguet buckle|
|Box & papers:||wooden box, Certificate of Origin, manual, leather pouch|
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