5175 Breguet Classique ‘Ginza Anniversary’
With collector attention so heavily focused on Roth’s Breguet era, it’s easy to overlook the fact that, actually, Hayek-Swatch era Breguet didn’t just fold. Look at the 7727 and its incredibly innovative magnetic pivots, allowing the balance to float in artificial gravity. I truly believe AL Breguet would have been proud to have that under his name. Or even the 7027 Tradition, which took the old English pocket watch finishing style, showed it off with a fully exposed gear train, and had the decency to not ask outrageous money. No, Breguet can still impress. And nothing has hit me recently so hard as this 5175, number 10 of just 10 ever made, a limited edition blue grand feu enamel, date-less dial to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Ginza, Tokyo boutique opening.
Recently, I persuaded a close friend of mine to join me down the dark rabbit hole of watch addiction. He’s certainly not the first, but just picked up the new Tudor panda chrono that’s actually a Breitling trying to be Paul Newman. He’s rightfully very pleased. We had an exchange last week where he, somewhat regretfully, explained that he simply does not understand the appeal of a dress watch yet. In my early years, I would’ve sympathized. In his words, ‘wouldn’t you want it to do something?’ No, not this. Not here. Because when you strip away all excess from a watch, down to only three hands, there is no hiding. A true dress watch is the ultimate canvas on which a maison may demonstrate their outright ability in the finest detail, sans distractions. That sense of pure substance is very strong in this Ginza, it’s high-ABV watchmaking.
Start with the dial, which isn’t just blue grand feu (a first for modern Breguet) but has platinum-coated numerals, stars and star-symbols making up its minute track as their old pocket watches, and engraved secret signature just below the handset barely visible. The hands are old open-tipped Breguet style, rhodium plated to match the calibre 777. All of this effort for just 10 watches. There’s no profit in that, and this alone fills me with optimism. I know, on balance, there’s probably a greater wealthy of truly exceptional stuff under Roth. But the 5175 demonstrates that they haven’t forgotten how to make a beautiful watch and execute it with masterful skill just for its own sake, for the art alone. It perhaps a slight shame, though, that one of the brands most impressive offerings of modern times was made in just 10 examples. Guess I’ll have to slum it with a white gold 3237 like the rest of us (jokes . . .kind of. Anyone want to sell me one? Please?). Or get me very drunk and put me in front of Aurel Bacs tomorrow, because this one’s running through Phillips right now.
This example appears to have been hardly worn, probably saved by some collector in a safe. I can barely make out if there’s any surface wear at all on the highly polished 38mm white gold case. It comes with a full set and is one of the possible sleepers from this week’s Phillips Spring Online Auctions, or at least it was until I did this (sorry).