Abraham-Louis Breguet famously invented the tourbillon in 1801 — and the company still carries that heritage over two centuries later.
First introduced in 2006, the double tourbillon is a modern horological creation that operates under that premise that two interconnected tourbillons can cancel each other out and improve chronometry. Whether it actually does more to positively affect the rate of watch compared to a single tourbillon is debatable. What’s not debatable, is Breguet’s implementation of the double tourbillon is a thing of beauty.
Introducing the 2020 Classique Double Tourbillon 5345 Quai de l’Horloge, a time-only watch with twin whirlwinds that rotate around the dial once every twelve hours. A reworked version of the original 2006 movement, caliber 588 N, drives the hours, minutes, and 60-second tourbillons.
The two tourbillons are mounted on a rotating dial mainplate that makes one revolution every 12 hours, and so the large thick blued open tipped hand you see connected to both tourbillons is actually the hour hand. The minute hand moves separately on the same central axis, the traditional way.
While the original model Breguet Twin Tourbillon (Ref. 5347) from 2006 came in a 44 mm x 17.05 mm case, this latest edition at 46 mm x 16.8 mm is slightly thinner and noticeable wider, which should give it a slightly flatter appearance on the wrist. But let’s be honest, the box sapphire crystal — no matter how ostentatiously tall — is absolutely magnificent.
The ability to view the highly transparent front of the watch, from the top or the side, is incredible. The movement has been essentially reversed and for this 2020 version, the dial has been cut-away, so the entirety of the three gear train and components — not just the tourbillons, as was the case with past models — is fully on view. Further, the chapter ring that indicates hours and minutes, is made of sapphire glass painted with blue Roman numerals and minute dots. In addition, just below the chapter ring, the hours are hand-carved into the vertical flange.
All of this goodness is housed in a solid 950 platinum case in the classic Breguet style with finely fluted caseband, ridged crown with embossed Breguet emblem, a sapphire caseback that’s secured with 8 screws, and a water-resistance rating of 30 meters.
While extravagant to look at, the 2.5Hz hand-wound caliber 588 N is also highly technical and consists of 738 total components, 81 of which are jewels. The dual free-sprung screwed balance wheels rotate at 18,000 vibrations per hour, each with its own gear train while simultaneously oscillating inside each tourbillon cage that rotates once every 60-seconds. The cages are connected together via a center differential that produces a mean average of the two rates to deliver improved accuracy. A third gear train rotates the entire 18K solid gold mainplate, and therefore the dial, and hour hand. Dual mainspring barrels drive all three gear trains for a maximum of 50-hours when fully wound.
Not only is the movement a technical masterpiece, the layers of finishing and the number of artisanal techniques is practically unparalleled. From barrel bridges in the shape of the Breguet “B” with hand beveled and polished edges — including complex interior angles — and straight brushing on the top to a steel tourbillon bridge that’s black-polished to perfection with hand beveled edges and bowl-shaped countersinks for the pivot jewels. Even the balance springs, which are made of a Nivarox material, have a Breguet overcoil (invented by Breguet in 1795) that’s been formed by hand.
In addition to all the eye-catching anglage, the dial also has intricate guilloche-work, which requires using a hand-operated rose machine to engrave a repeating pattern. Flip the watch over and although the dial side is far sexier, the entire mainplate is crafted from 18K gold and hand-engraved with a motif depicting Abraham-Louis Breguet’s historic Quai de l’Horloge Paris workshop, on the backside.
Compared to the past versions of the double tourbillon — and despite having “Classique” in its name — this latest iteration is resolutely modern. Accordingly, Breguet designers gave the Classique Double Tourbillon 5345 Quai de l’Horloge some extra color pop by pairing it with a unique slate gray large-scale alligator strap with a vibrant blue rubber lining matching the blue dial accents.
Retail is $$631,000. (Ref. 5345PT/1S/7XU) Learn more at Breguet.