Here it finally comes, my personal favorite for Only Watch 2011.
When the watchonista team went to Monaco to attend the warm-up of Only Watch, the Breguet was the least revealing on the press photos.
However, when we discussed which amongst the watches proposed during the auction would be the one to be reckoned with, we immediately thought about the Breguet.
Successful teasing? Instinct of the Great pieces? Special fondness for musical watches?
After having had it in one’s hands, it fulfils its promises at any rate.
It is undoubtedly an exceptional watch, through its complication as well as through its level of customization and tribute paid to the charity auction.
You ask yourself what makes it so incredible, and this question is legitimate.
As you probably know, the principle of the auction is to present a unique piece.
The benefits of the sales will directly finance the research for the fight for children with muscular diseases.
The levels of customization and of implication of the products dedicated to Only Watch are variable, as mentioned at length in previous articles.
The first surprise when one unpacks the watch, are the middles engraved with the notes of the melody played by the mechanism, it is beautiful and offbeat, and breaks the monotony of the middles.
Second surprise, it is a big piece, imposing and heavy with its white gold case (if Breguet had chosen Stainless steel akin to the Patek Philippe 3939 Only Watch, the watch would have lost some of its nobility and would have gained in lightness and sound power).
It seems sized at 46mm, when in truth, it is 48 by 16, and as the Golden number is respected, the watch does not seem too big.
I would even go further: when I attend a Vintage Breguet show, I see big pieces, large diameters and I realize that my favorite Breguet are the bulkiest, the uncompromising design of Abraham-Louis expresses itself better on large surfaces.
And finally, producing big watches is honoring the pocket contemporary watches from the French revolution.
The movement of this N°506 features the size of the mechanisms of pocket watches, and so does the case.
As if one had welded the lugs directly on a vintage Breguet.
The caliber is paradoxical, in that it possesses modern characteristics, high frequency, 28800 v/h, automatic winding, 55h of power reserve, but its format and especially its complication, the musical alarm clock, are really anchored into tradition.
As well, similar to the vintage watches, there is no second hand, the big hand indicating the time when the alarm clock will ring.
We are at the height of customization; Breguet starts from one of its classic great complications, the musical alarm clock.
At the base, this complication is one of the most accomplished from Breguet: the musical alarm clock, far, far away from a Memovox or a Cricket, plays complicated and crystal clear melodies, its 15 tones make the rendering of most of the notes and half tones possible.
The theme can be played through the usual alarm clock tuning, or anytime upon request.
This melody, and I insist upon this point, is of an incredible purity for a wristwatch (I find it superior to those of the very good products from Ulysse Nardin of Jaeger leCoultre).
The usual roll (like those of the music boxes) was replaced by discs.
This operation enabled a constrained thickness, leaving more room for a « liquid metal » sound box.
Consequently, the sound is audible and pure, without having the power of some more minute-repeating products using more tricks, and perfectly serves the initial purpose : the magic subsists even in a piece with a subdued sound.
Last point to highlight, like the other alarm clocks from Breguet, this watch is delivered with a special box designed to amplify the music: the box becomes more than a protection, it becomes an accessory.
The melody is that of the « Castle in the sky », a classic from Japanese animation;
When one knows the level of quality of the Japanese cartoon soundtracks (Cowboy Beebop, Captain Futur/Flam, etc.), this surprising choice can only be vividly praised, since it is the proof of a great musical culture.
Even if the designers seem at first to have made an offbeat choice, it fits perfectly with the theme of the auction, because the « Castle in the sky » is amongst those Mangas especially dedicated to the youngest.
This Breguet N°506, it is the sound but it is also the image.
The whole dial rotates completely when a melody is played. The animation, that lasts around 25 seconds, is particularly impressive.
The work of optimization on the movement’s torque that enables the motion of the heavy engraved and engine-turned dial must have been a chore to the horologists from Breguet.
But the result is real, since in order to enhance the customization Only watch, the hand of the lost child, when it has finished its rotation, joins that of the adult.
It is a symbol of the inter-generational mutual help that made the creation of Only-Watch possible.
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At first, the words that come to mind to describe this musical animation are: « impressive », « superb », « amazing ». However, the most appropriate term is « touching ».
This Breguet N°506 Only Watch has the rare privilege of being amongst the elitist club of watches that overwhelm you with emotion…
Other watches as touching (for example the De Bethune DB25 Only Watch), are only for a handful of privileged pundits that have a passion for horology.
But the beauty of this piece is that it can enthrall anyone, without the discrimination of age, sex or horologic knowledge.
Breguet signs one of the finest pieces of the auction, a very complicated watch that can make any commoner cry.
A watch that supports sick infancy, through childish codes, a piece that has requested a deep work in order to stick as close as possible to the theme of Only Watch.
(Courtesy of Pifpaf)