Breguet - The Luxury of Frequencies

A technological innovation, the newly launched Breguet Type XXII is sure to appeal to lovers of high precision, as this watch features an unprecedented high frequency of 10 Hertz

By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: December 10, 2011

It was a day well-spent understanding chronographs, as Mr Christophe Viguerie, Vice-President India & Thailand, Montres Breguet, took the pains to explain it to us with the help of diagrams, videos, sound and finally, the actual inspection of the newly launched Type XXII chronograph.

Breguet Type XXII watchType XXII has an interesting and long history behind it which starts from Louis Breguet, the great-great-grandson of A. –L Breguet, the illustrious watchmaker and company founder. Louis Breguet had an immense passion for airplanes. In 1906, Louis Breguet created the world’s first helicopter to leave the ground with a pilot on-board. This was followed by his first biplane in 1909, first hydroplanes in 1912, and in 1918, the period between the two world wars, the Louis Breguet aviation company exported its planes to many countries in Europe, America and even to Japan.

Alongisde the aeronautical achievements by Louis Breguet’s aviation company, Breguet too took an interest in the aeronautical market and developed various timepieces for aviation. Over the years, Breguet supplied aeronautical firms and airline companies with sophisticated chronographs. Later came the TYPE XI and TYPE XII watches that still equip airline companies in around 15 countries!

However, the best-known aeronautical watch from the Breguet stable is Type XX which was ordered for the French Air Force in 1960. These watches were state property and were only personally given to pilots in exceptional circumstances. The TYPE XX soon became a much sought-after item for all aviators, which led Breguet to create a version for civilians. To celebrate the 45th anniversary of this iconic model, Breguet launched Type XXI a few years ago, which retains the military bearing of Type XX, albeit with a more modern interpretation.

It is the next in line, Type XXII, for which we were gathered at The Leela Palace New Delhi. Still having a military look, this version is much more powerful with 10 Hertz frequency – which gives the watch an exceptional regulating power. The energy transferred from the main spring to the hair spring increases. And this transfer of energy gives such a high speed to the mechanism that you won’t even be able to discern the rotation of the wheel at the back of the watch! Where other watches usually have a frequency between 2-4 Hertz, Breguet has taken a step forward in sheer mechanical genius.

Breguet watch mechanismsHowever, to avoid the problem of lubrication in high frequencies, Breguet uses a silicon escapement. Other reason for why the silicon escapement is important is that it’s impervious to magnetic fields, increases manufacturing precision and decreases the thermal influence on rate of the watch.

An extra hand at centre counts the minutes by adding together 30 second spans. The dashes in red and white, situated on the flange, combined with the numbered seconds graduation also appearing in red and white, help to understand whether the chronograph counter is in its first (red sectors) or second (white sectors) 30 second revolution.

Breguet Type XXII chronograph surely features a flyback function which allows the totaliser to be returned to zero and instantly restarted in the same operation through the push of a button.

At 6 o’clock, the dial features a second time zone indicator along with a window for a date calendar. A two-position crown resets the second time-zone indicator by moving the hour hand at centre without affecting the minute hand. The date calendar, however, shows the date according to the time of the main time-zone displayed at centre. A 24-hour night-and-day indicator at 3 o’clock conveys whether it is day or night in the area covered by the second time-zone. At nine o’clock, a subdial shows the running seconds making full rotations in 30 seconds.

Type XXII has a 44mm stainless steel case and is fitted with an integrated veal strap. “We have created the watch after a lot of testing. It took us four years to make it! But our end user is still the final tester since only then we’ll get to know how well the watch functions in prolonged use. And we hope they like it!” said Mr Viguerie.

All the ‘scientific’ talk about hertz and silicon led us to another query. If Breguet could harness the power of 10 Hertz frequency as opposed to the usual 4 Hertz, is it possible to go even higher than 10 Hertz? “It is probably possible. But the challenge with higher frequencies is how to counteract the effect of high use on the escapement. That’s the test,” explained Mr Viguerie.

Well, while Breguet continues to innovate in the sphere of watchmaking, much like the founder who is credited with creating various advanced timekeeping techniques, we will certainly have more such novelties to look forward to.

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