The world is opening up again, and with it, the need to keep track of timezones while we explore it. Perfect timing then for Breguet’s latest, a dazzling case housing an impressive mechanism, made with the well-heeled traveler in mind.
Breguet is of course famous for their dive watches, which have a clear purpose in life. However it’s another aquatic-adjacent collection that’s been earning plenty of praise. While not made explicitly with diving in mind, the Marine line takes inspiration from the brands history with French marine chronometres and adds to it a modern sports-luxury aesthetic. Breguet first introduced the Marine back in 1990, but in 2018 the line was given its most modern makeover, as well as the incredibly complex Marine Équation Marchante. This iteration of the line really struck a chord with fans of the brand looking for something that offered elegance as well as versatility, and now, with their most recent exploration of their Marine, Breguet brings into the fold one of the brand’s most interesting complications – and one that fits very nicely indeed into the luxurious sports chic of the Marine family. That complication is, of course, the brand’s clever twist on the classic two-timer – the Hora Mundi.
In 2011, 80 years after Louis Cottier pioneered the first wristwatch-scale world timer, Breguet quietly revolutionised the travel watch. The brand did away with the panoply of the subdials, hands and globe displays. Hora Mundi shines with its ingenious application of the dual time display. With no extra hands and an unobtrusive city display, Breguet’s solution is fiendishly simple.
Hora Mundi offers the promise of travel at the click of a button. First things first, the wearer sets two timezones, which are indicated on the city display at the bottom of the dial. Once that initial set-up is done, all you need to do is press the button at eight, and the time display instantly changes, including the date and day/night display. It’s user-friendly, incredibly satisfying and the perfect complication for a genuinely lavish travel watch. This use of complication is clear enough in application, though the mechanical design and construction is something else entirely. The magic happens thanks to two programmable heart-shaped cams, one for each specified city. When the pusher at seven is pressed, the pusher lever locks into one of the cams, which is then engaged while the hour hand rotates (which also informs the time of the date and day/night indicator). Push the lever again and the alternate cam engages, allowing the wearer to repeat the process for the second city. As for the super-fast, fluid switching between locations? That’s possible thanks to a differential switching mechanism that changes the time, as well as the date and day/night indications in as much time as it take to press a button.
Over the last few years Breguet has invested into their Marine collection, challenging conceptions of the brand as only offering ‘dressy’ watches. It’s true that the Marine is some way off tool-watch territory, but there’s a sense of purpose and practicality in the aquatic-inspired Marine collection that belies the lines good looks. Wold you wear these fine gold watches with a suit and look perfectly at home — of course? Could you wear the Marine while swimming and exploring the world? Well, with 100M of water resistance, we don’t see why not.
Cased in either white or rose gold, the large 43.9mm Marine Hora Mundi 5557 is offered on leather, rubber or a full gold bracelet, with a dial that evokes the golden age of travel. A complex and multi-layered representation of the world writ miniature, hand- guilloché waves worked in gold and lacquered in abyssal blue lap against the shorelines of finely sculpted continents. The perspective is interesting, too, as the wearer looks down from the northern hemisphere, with the pole being located under the broad date aperture. Just off the east coast of Africa rests a half-moon day/night display showing the passage of a hand-hammered moon and sun, in rhodium plate and rose gold, respectively. It’s a smart and subtle twist on the traditional world time layout that, like the rest of this watch feel very current, and quite cool. Of course, there’s options for a gold bracelet or a leather strap, but given the nature of this watch the winner has to be rubber, which adds to the contemporary aesthetic, with its wearability and sculptural lines. Of course, there’s plenty of tradition to be found too, from the almost baroque ornateness of the folding buckle through to the fine fluting on the case middle, a real hallmark of the brand, and of course the fine quality of movement finishes on display through the clear caseback.
Second-to-none finishing is no surprise from Breguet, and the brand’s typically reserved take on sports chic is something we’re increasingly familiar with thanks to the growing popularity of the Marine line. The combination of sports and travel that we see in the Marine Hora Mundi is the epitome of luxury travel. Every element, from the case to the dial to the calibre, sings together and offers beauty and function in equal measure. This is a watch that begs to be worn on a yacht, a plane or even a train.
Breguet 5557 Marine Hora Mundi
Movement: Caliber 77F1, 4 Hz, 55 hours of power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes and seconds, calendar, dual time zone, day/night indicator
Case: White gold or rose gold, 43,9mm by 13.8mm, water- resistant to 100M
Strap: Leather strap, rubber strap and gold bracelet