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Best of Baselworld 2017: New Watches From Blancpain, Patek Philippe, Rolex, Bulgari and more

Baselworld 2017 opening day.

New introductions at Baselworld this year tended to fit one of two categories. 1. Trends that reflect the times – and by “times” I mean an industry that is entering its third straight year of decline (see my story on that here) – with watches that are smaller, less complicated and more realistically designed and priced. And 2. Watches that reflect the fact that Baselworld is also about showmanship and haute horology, with high complications (like the Breguet Equation of Time) and metiers masterpieces (like the Dior VIII Grand Bal). Here are my top five men’s and top five ladies’ introductions for Baselworld 2017. Click on each link to find more pictures and detailed descriptions. Read more

Breguet at Baselworld 2017: The Marine Équation Marchante 5887, a triple complication

Breguet Marine Équation Marchante 5887.

Breguet Marine Équation Marchante 5887.

Like the minute repeater and the perpetual calendar, the equation of time is rooted in the history of watchmaking and is therefore a collector’s favorite. Breguet’s complex version, the Marine Équation Marchante 5887, is a triple complication that also includes a tourbillon and a perpetual calendar. It celebrates Abraham Louis Breguet’s appointment in 1814 as a member of the Bureau des longitudes in Paris, a group of experts who measured the earth’s physical properties. As the official marine chronometer maker to the French Royal Navy, Breguet was a key member of the group. The Marine Équation Marchante 5887 is unique in that it displays the running equation of time at a glance using a “running” (marchante) central hand on the dial rather than on a subdial that shows the minutes to be added or subtracted to the current civil time. It even displays the cam that controls the equation of time function – alongside a tourbillon and a perpetual calendar.

Breguet Marine Équation Marchante 5887 in rose gold.

Breguet Marine Équation Marchante 5887 in rose gold.

The equation of time is essentially the addition of a sundial to the modern wristwatch. It measures time according to the current position of the sun, by which the length of a day can vary by -16 to +14 minutes compared to average or civil time. The difference is called the equation of time. For practical reasons, man has divided each year into 365 and a quarter days, each day into 24 hours, and the hours into 60 minutes each. However, because the Earth’s orbit is elliptical rather than circular, the time in relation to the sun varies daily. It is exactly twenty-four hours long on only four days: April 15th, June 14th, September 1st and December 24th. Because these variations occur identically on the same dates, they can be programmed into a watch movement by means of a cam making one complete rotation a year. The cam is often linked directly to a perpetual calendar so that the display of the equation of time always corresponds to the current date. The cam on the Breguet Marine Equation Marchante 5887 is shaped like a figure eight, and visible on the dial through a window that also displays the tourbillon carriage. It runs on a sapphire disk so as not to block the view of the tourbillon.

Breguet Marine Equation

The fluted caseband of the Breguet Marine Equation of Time is more widely fluted than other cases in the collection.

Breguet Marine Équation Marchante 5887

Breguet Marine Équation Marchante 5887, a running equation of time.

There are different ways to show the equation of time. Most watches use a hand sweeping a subsidiary dial or arc, graduated from 16 to +14 minutes. Only a few have a running equation of time, which consists of a second minute hand that runs according to solar time, making the difference readable at a glance on the central dial. This hand on the Marine Équation Marchante 5887 is identified by a sun motif. A fourth central hand, tipped by an anchor motif in honor of marine chronometers, indicates the date on a retrograde scale as part of the perpetual calendar function. In keeping with the marine theme, the inner dial is engraved to resemble waves. The self-winding caliber 581DPE runs at 4Hz and includes a 60-second tourbillon with a titanium carriage and a silicon balance. It has an 80-hour power reserve, the status of which is displayed in a very subtle aperture between 7 and 9 o’clock. Thanks to a peripheral rotor, the decorated movement can be seen through the caseback, including bridges engraved to depict a the Royal Louis, a ship in the French Royal Navy, and a barrel engraved with a windrose motif. The crown is topped with a polished B and, in another departure from the traditional Marine design, the fluted case band is more widely grooved. There are two references, one in 18k rose gold, priced at $215,000, and the other in platinum, priced at $230,400, with a blue dial. The cases are 43.9mm wide. It is water resistant to 100 meters.

 Breguet Marine Équation Marchante 5887

Caseback of the Breguet Marine Équation Marchante 5887.

One of the things that makes this complication valuable and collectible is its rarity: while many brands makes tourbillons and minute repeaters, only a handful make an equation of time, including Vacheron Consantin, Patek Philippe, Panerai, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Ulysse Nardin, Audemars Piguet and Breguet.