These are interesting times for luxury watch makers, with high-end fashion brands already playing on their turf. There is mounting competition from the likes of Chanel and Louis Vuitton for a place on the wrists of fashion-forward women, who are not interested in watches only as accessories. Although haute horlogerie still dominates the space in terms of global sales figures, it is clear even from comparative social-media numbers that they are way behind fashion brands when it comes to using contemporary tools to engage new customers.
In the hierarchy of exclusive watch brands, Breguet is one of a very tiny group at the peak of the pyramid of horlogerie. It might not have the following of a top fashion brand, but its followers have included influential characters, such as Marie Antoinette, for whom it made the exquisite No1160 pocket watch, which was on show at its flagship store in London recently. But it was the first wristwatch made in 1810 for Caroline Murat (née Bonaparte), the younger sister of Napoleon I, that inspired the Reine de Naples Princess 8965 and other pieces in the new collection.
Breguet’s traditional line has also been updated with the award-winning Tradition Dame Ref 7038 with Calibre 505SR movement. This piece, in rose gold with a halo of diamonds, successfully puts a feminine spin on a masculine, mechanical watch with all its tech on full display.
The Princess 8965 is elegant, and just showy enough to spark conversation. Its oval 18k rose-gold case has both bezel and lugs set with 83 brilliant-cut diamonds. The graphic dial, individually numbered and signed, is presented in white mother-of-pearl, offset at the accentuated Roman numeral 6 o’clock. The watch features Breguet’s characteristic open-tipped hands, which are driven by the self-winding Calibre 591C, subtly revealed through the sapphire caseback. The crown sits at 5 o’clock, set with an inverted 0.15ct diamond. The watch offers water resistance to 30m and has a 38-hour power reserve.
Watches in this category are hugely collectable, and, at the very least, retain their value over time. If you’re in the market, you can select a rose-gold bracelet set with diamonds or a less flashy alligator leather strap with a gold folding clasp. Or both. Price upon request. swatch.com/en_za