Is Breguet One Of The Most Under-Rated Watch Brands Out There?

by Matt Clymo

Abraham-Louis Breguet was one of the fathers of modern watchmaking. Yet Breguet as a legacy brand seems to be languishing a little. Which leads us to ask the question, why?

When you think of watch brands, many come to mind, from the hype watch brands we know and covet today, to the mainstream luxury brands that are readily available to high horology that many of us will potentially never own. I won’t put names in your head, but I think you know several from each of those categories. But, where in this list does Breguet fall? For many, it probably doesn’t come to mind instantly, or even in the top 5. I know for me, it normally doesn’t which is a shame as it’s one of the oldest brands around. But this got me thinking – why is this?

A couple of months ago, Breguet invited us to Sydney to view some of their pieces, some newly released this year and some that have been in their catalog for a little while. Breguet is not a brand we’ve done a lot with, so needless to say we jumped on a plane and flew to Sydney to meet the heads of the brand here in Australia and to get hands-on with some great pieces in their lineup. And you forget, they have some very nice pieces!

My artistic shot of the Tradition 7097 in white gold and retrograde seconds

It was this trip and getting up close and personal with the brand that sparked this idea in my mind. Why isn’t Breguet seen in a higher light in the wider watch world? They have some amazing pieces for both men and women ranging from sports to dress pieces. They have some of the highest levels of finishing out there, which Champs can attest to when he visited their Manufacture earlier in the year (which you can see here on his insta page) ahead of their global Type 20 and Type XX release in Paris, and they make some crazy pieces both looks-wise and complication-wise. Their Tradition and Classique collections are some of the best in their catalogue and within these, some pieces like the Tradition Quantieme Retrograde 7597 blue are some of the most unique and dare I say, amazing watches out there.

The Breguet Tradition Quantieme Retrograde with blue guilloche dial and retrograde date arc.

When you explore a piece like the 7597, you start to understand just the level of detail that goes into these pieces. Whilst they may not be for everyone, and yes, the price points on these are not the standard given many of these are high 5-figures edging into the 6-figure price point, you can’t deny they’re not a great brand. From the dial layout, guilloche gold dial that’s hand turned, anthracite plates and bridges, and semi-exposed movement with the retrograde date arc, you’re looking at a very fine piece of watchmaking, and one hell of a watch should you have the means to afford the $64,200 AUD asking price.

The caseback of the Tradition Quantieme Retrograde 7597

However, the demand for these pieces is not what you see with the likes of Rolex, or AP. Their secondary market values are nowhere near their retail, which is great for potential buyers out there who want to get an incredible bargain and a watch with meticulous finishing and history to boot. But it showcases that the brand is maybe not where it should be when it comes to collectors and the wider market alike. My very strong hunch is that staunch collectors and those who know appreciate Breguet, but outside this, the “street cred” isn’t there.

The back of the Classique Quantieme Perpetual is one reason these should have a lot more demand!

But it should be. Breguet is one of the oldest watch brands in the world, dating back to 1775 when Abraham-Louis Breguet first set up his workshop in Paris, and soon caught the eye of the French aristocracy, including then Queen, Marie Antoinette. Having masted the automatic winding mechanism, The Perpétuelle, which none of his counterparts had at the time, Breguet made a name for himself, and even today, parts are named after his inventions, like the Breguet Overcoil spring, Breguet styled hands and the anti-shock mechanism, the pare-chute. All of these are still present today in Breguet watches and many other brands on the market.

The Tradition 7097 with off-centred dial in silvered gold, engine-turned by hand and the pare-chute devices on the left and right and the Bregeut Coilover hairspring at 4 o’clock

Whilst it’s true that Breguet is not the brand that was started back in 1775. The Breguet family sold it over 150 years ago and since then, has undergone many changes, including multiple owners which has not helped. Now owned by the Swatch group, the brand is looking back to its roots like many others for inspiration and guidance to help propel it along over the next 100 years. This being said, nostalgia has a place in the watch world and sometimes what is old is new again, and hopefully, this will be for Breguet.

The rose gold Classique Quantieme Perpetual is one piece you should try on at least once!

The launch of the Type XX and Type 20 this year showcases that the brand is committed to looking back at its aviation association with the French Airforce, which you can read our coverage and history of starting here. These are very nice pieces that are a little different, you won’t see on too many people’s wrists, and come with some great history as well. What’s not to like?

The Breguet Type XX and Type 20 Champs shot earlier this year in Paris at the global launch

For the females out there, they’ve some unique and beautiful dress pieces as well. The Reine de Naples collection are not your standard ladies’ watches. Oval-shaped, off-centre dials, diamond set bezels, and hour markers and for those wanting to be a little more adventurous, some come with very artistic dials.

The Reine de Naples 8918 in rose gold and Bezel, dial flange and crown set with 118 diamonds

They are not your everyday pieces, but they are a standout in any collection. Yes you can get less expensive dress watches, but you won’t get the provenance, the craftmanship, precious metals and jewels that set these apart. Even the more traditional Classique ladies collection are beautiful and will set you apart!

The question I have in my mind is, how does Breguet get back to being the brand it once was? What should the Swatch Group be doing to help elevate its high horology maison to where it should be? The answer normally comes down to marketing and how the brand is being showcased in the market, not to mention who they’re targeting for their watches. When you have executives and well-off business people, influencers, and tech tycoons choosing to wear Rolex, AP or Patek (which are all justified) but not Breguet and you look at well-known people who are celebrities and influencers and what they’re wearing, you start to realise why.

The Tradition Quantieme Retrograde

It’s less about the watches and their heritage, and more about how brands stay relevant these days. Patek Philippe is steeped in heritage and craftsmanship. But you see people like Jay Z, Connor McGregor and Ed Sheeran wearing their pieces. Regardless if they’re been given these by the brand or are ambassadors, it creates an air of relevancy. Put a few Breguets on some celebrity wrists who are also watch nuts and I imagine the image will start to turn.

The Type XX and Type 20 could be a good option for some Breguet ambassador love

Now, I’m not advocating for Breguet to sell out at all, most definitely not. This is more of a gentle nudge to look at how can they get people to see their pieces the way they should be seen. Tradition and heritage in watchmaking is important, as is the brand’s story, but by the same token, brands, and any brand in any industry for that matter, need to stay relevant and contemporary. We now live in a TikTok world after all!

The Breguet Classique Calendrier 7337 in 18-carat gold with gold dial hand engraved on a rose engine

Coming back to the title of this article, is Breguet one of the most underrated watch brands out there? We here at Watch Advice think so. Yes, it is and it should be up there with the best when you think of great watch brands. If you value the artisanal work, the materials, the designs, and the amazing amount of heritage and history in any watch brand, then Breguet has this in spades. And if you’re thinking about that Daytona, or that Royal Oak, maybe have a look a Tradition 7057 or Marine Chronograph, or if you’re after something a little more dressy, the Classique Quantieme Perpetual, you won’t regret it!

You may also like

Copyright 2024 Watch Advice Pty Ltd. ACN: 633 660 992. All Right Reserved.