An extremely rare, charismatic and fine yellow gold tourbillon wristwatch of the famous Swiss watch brand Breguet, founded in 1775. Estimated production period: 2003–2005. Case made of 18k yellow gold, diameter 39mm, thickness 8.9mm, signed crown, sapphire caseback. 18k gold silver-plated dial with hand-made guilloché decoration, recessed hours and minutes sub-dial, Breguet double secret signature between XI and XII and XII and I. Hand-wound caliber 558.1, hand-engraved, Breguet hairspring, power reserve up to 50 hours. Functions – hours, minutes, tourbillon, small seconds hand on tourbillon shaft. Breguet brown leather strap with Breguet 18k yellow gold double folding clasp.
Abraham-Louis Breguet, founder of the brand, is one of the most prolific watch designers and inventors in watchmaking history. In particular, he has the honour of having invented the tourbillon, a complication mechanism with balance, hairspring and escapement parts installed in a rotating carriage. The tourbillon was invented in 1795, and a French patent was granted to Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1801. The aim of this invention was to improve the accuracy of the pocket watch by averaging the positional error via the rotation of the tourbillon. In the modern era, the tourbillon has acquired legendary status in high watchmaking and is one of the most beautiful mechanical complications.
The Breguet brand was one of the first to undertake the development of serial production wristwatches with a tourbillon; this work was started by the watchmaker Daniel Roth, who worked for the brand in the 1970s and 1980s and under whose leadership the design of the caliber 558 (Nouvelle Lémania 397) was carried out at the Nouvelle Lémania manufacturer of watch movements. The manual-wound caliber has a one-minute tourbillon and characteristic design with upward-shifted hour and minute hands. Another of Daniel Roth’s design features that survives in Breguet tourbillon watches up to the current collection is the three-pointed small seconds hand, mounted on the tourbillon shaft to indicate the seconds on the sector scale.
The ‘Senza B’ design variation will undoubtedly draw the attention of the discerning collector to this piece. According to our research, the small seconds hand ‘Senza B’ versions are significantly rarer than the original ‘Flying B’ Ref. 5357 design.
The Classique Grande Complication Tourbillon Ref. 5357 was introduced in 2002 as a larger 39mm alternative to the original 35mm Tourbillon Ref. 3357 (initially 3350). Unlike reference 3357, Ref. 5357 featured a new single-layer solid-gold and silvered dial, decorated by a hand-made guilloché pattern, with a recessed hours and minutes sub-dial and a round tourbillon aperture. Breguet’s original hand-wound tourbillon caliber 558 (version 558.1) remained, however.
Ref. 5357 was produced in four main versions, two in platinum 950 and two in 18k yellow gold. The two metal executions exist in both the ‘Flying B’ variation (references 5357PT/12/9V6 and 5357BA/12/9V6), with the filigree letter B from the brand’s logo mounted on the tourbillon axle and used as a small seconds hand, and in the ‘Senza B’ variation (references 5357PT/1B/9V6 and 5357BA/1B/9V6), which doesn’t have the letter B and instead features a regular hand. It may be interesting to note that in this model, Breguet abandoned the three-pointed small seconds hand characteristic of early Breguet tourbillon wristwatches – this design had been created by watchmaker Daniel Roth, who managed the development of Breguet watches until the end of the 1980s. According to our research, the small seconds hand ‘Senza B’ versions are significantly rarer than the original ‘Flying B’ Ref. 5357 design.
The reverse side of the movement deserves special attention – it is exquisitely and lavishly engraved by hand, and, moreover, there exists at least five basic engraving types, including the type presented now on the site. We assume the possibility that such examples were not available for sale. The caliber 558.1, marked as No. 1404, belongs to the third generation (Mk3) of four, discovered in this reference. The present watch features the engraved decor of type 4. Keep in mind that the engraving is done by hand and although it follows one of the four (probably five) basic designs, the engraving is different each time in tiny details. Therefore, any watch is essentially a unique piece.
Reasons to bid
The Breguet Classique Grande Complication Tourbillon ‘Senza B’ Ref. 5357BA/1B/9V6 would be a desirable purchase for any collector, who will receive a beautiful and extremely rare tourbillon wristwatch from a world-renowned traditional watch brand, most famous for the invention of the tourbillon. The ‘Senza B’ design variation will undoubtedly draw the attention of the discerning collector to this piece. The present lot features an 18k yellow gold case with grooved caseband, smooth rounded bezel and rim of the caseback, and thin straight lugs, which also contributes to the list of the valuable aesthetic codes of the famous Breguet style.