It’s going to take a specific kind of buyer who likes the Patek heritage and wants a simple dress watch but has also seen their share of watches which look like heirlooms straight out of the boutique. I believe Patek Philippe would do well to earn a steel option but for now it will only be available in white gold. Priced at just around $30,000, it is about what you’d expect to get a gold Patek Philippe time-only watch. I’m tenuously positive concerning the opinion but it is a considerable sticker price for the quirky cousin at the Calatrava household. Auctions are best suited to this selling of special items that aren’t otherwise available on the market.For that reason, I always look forward to the interesting watches which are contributed to the Only Watch auction series that’s presently being conducted by the auction house Christie’s. Only Watch is an event that we’ve covered a good deal through the years on aBlogtoWatch, and the next installment of the biennial auction sale will happen in Geneva on November 11th, 2017. The Only Watch auction series isn’t as strong an event because it was, but its principal theme continues to be respected. The idea is that watch brands publish unique watches made especially to be donated and sold in the auction. These are exceptional prototypes or are the first in a limited-edition series. The proceeds (minus all sorts of fees, I am sure) are to be given to Association Monegasque Contre le Myopathies (AMM) whose goal is to fund medical research to help treat a form of muscle dystrophy.Only Watch is just as powerful as the watches that are given by watch manufacturers. All these are tax write-offs as well as a means to gain publicity and an ego boost. Brands like to see their products go under the gavel and get bought up by collectors. That said, there’s not anything to stop brands from bidding in their watches either directly or by means of a proxy. Thus, in my estimation, the actual numerical value of exactly what the watches end up going for in the auction should be taken with a grain of salt. The exact same philosophy should be put on the outcomes of any auction, since they just represent what one buyer, that happened to be present, was willing to do on that day.
The original Breguet La Tradition 7027 is a milestone in modern watchmaking, not so much for its complication since it had none, but for its design. With the movement rearranged symmetrically for the open-worked dial, the La Tradition was a groundbreaking design when it was introduced in 2005, despite being based on 200-year old pocket watches. And the Tradition series has not included a ladies’ watch – though it does include last year’s groundbreaking Tradition Chronograph 7077 – until the recent launch of the Tradition Dame 7038.
While ladies’ watches that are actually frilly, dressed up men’s watches usually look the part, the Tradition Dame 7038 works surprisingly well. It’s white gold and 37mm in diameter (the same size as the original men’s Tradition 7037, on which it is based). That puts the Tradition Dame on the large side for a woman’s watch but the elaborate styling makes it elegant.
Thin and long lugs as well as a fluted case band are typical of Breguet, while the bezel has just under 0.9 carats of brilliant-cut diamonds. Unusually the crown is set with a synthetic ruby of the same sort used in the movement.
The movement is identical to that in the men’s Tradition, but slightly more elaborate. The barrel right in the centre of the movement has a guilloche barrel cover, while the sub-dial for the time is dark mother of pearl engine turned with clous de Paris and printed with Breguet numerals.
One of the key features of the Tradition movement is the U-shaped pare-chute shock absorber spring for the balance jewel, a feature that draws on the original, 18th century invention of Abraham-Louis Breguet. While the pare-chute is a nod to history, the hairspring is silicon – a signpost to the future of watchmaking. Non-magnetic, precisely shaped and manufactured in large quantities, the silicon hairspring is now a common feature in Breguet watches (and by extension its sister companies in the Swatch Group).
The movement is finished in a bright white-grey plating with frosted surfaces and polished bevels. Everything is cleanly and neatly executed, to a degree that makes it obvious mechanical aid was used in the finishing. So while the Tradition is obviously based on 19th century pocket watches, the movement’s details are distinctly modern.
The calibre 505SR is self-winding, with a hammer shaped rotor inspired by the early automatic winding mechanism invented by Breguet and named perpetuelle. Those were wound by a hammer-shaped weight that swung from side to side, winding the mainspring.
While the modern day calibre 505SR has a similarly shaped rotor, it works in an entirely modern manner, with the rotor making a full 360 degree oscillation to wind the barrel. This is perhaps the biggest aesthetic drawback of the watch, as the hammer-shaped rotor is ungainly and only serves as a historical throwback that isn’t really necessary. Fortunately it is hidden on the back.
Price and availability
The is priced at US$38,900 or SS$55,900. It will be available at end September 2016 from Breguet boutiques and retailers.