Equally subtle is the sunken sub-dial for the seconds.
While on the first generation 5140 the sub-dial was a separate piece of enamel welded to the main dial, the Classique 7147 has a one-piece dial.
The minute track on the edge of the dial is comprised of tiny stars, with lozenge markers for the quarters and a combination of a sphere and delta in-between.
Unusual as they are, the intricate minute markers are found on some vintage Breguet timepiece, including this quarter repeating pocket watch dating from 1786 that sold at Christie’s in 2016.
It’s a very slim movement, just 2.4mm high, that’s constructed in an unusual fashion.
The rotor off-centre, and just below it the mainspring is visible thanks to an open barrel. Once found in extra-thin watches produced by several brands, the calibre isn’t found outside of Breguet and Blancpain watches today, since Breguet’s parent company Swatch Group now owns Frederic Piguet.
At our workshops in Stamford we use a combination of traditional and modern techniques to achieve the highest quality painted dial restoration.
Though simple at a distance, the dial reveals whimsical details inspired by 18 century pocket watches.After exposure to sunlight this water bound ink becomes in part an insoluble compound (does not smudge or wash, but must be polished off) which explains why sometimes when the ink is removed from a dial there is a definite “shadow” beneath.Post 1840 there is a increasing tendency to use ammonia based aniline dye inks, which are much like the ink in your fountain pen (smell fountain pen ink and you will recognise the ammonia).The one-piece dial also helps the aesthetics by preserving the hour numerals at five and six, which is not the case for a two-piece dial that requires the numbers to be cut-off to accommodate the sub-dial.It’s a minor detail but perhaps the best thing abut the dial, illustrating the thought that went into the design. 502.3 SD, an automatic movement found in several other Breguet watches.In the modern line-up, several models feature similar details on their enamel dials, including the immediate predecessor of the 7147, the Classique 5140.On vintage Breguet pocket watches enamel dials were doubtlessly hand-painted, while on the Classique 7147 and its contemporary counterparts the markings are printed in black lacquer.A slight reddish hue, especially on worn dials, is imparted by over-concentration of the dye which results in it crystallising on the very smooth surface, rather than lying in a smooth block of black colour.In the light of this, we usually use Windsor and Newton acrylic ink. Despite the apparent simplicity of the new dial, it is gorgeous, especially in detail.The basics of the watch remain identical to the original guilloche dial version: a 40mm case that’s just 6.1mm high, giving it an elegant, flat profile.