With the push of a button at 10 o’clock, or when it strikes a pre-set time, Breguet’s new Ref. 7800 Classique “La Musicale” plays “Badinerie,” composed by Johann Sebastian Bach. Click here to discover the details of the watch and listen to its chimes, in this featured article from my blog, Watch-Insider.com.
The first “La Musicale” watch inspired a great deal of discussion when it first came out in 2012, because apart from telling the time, it also housed a remarkable, patented, musical chiming mechanism that played Rossini’s aria, “The Thieving Magpie.” At Baselworld 2013, La Montre Breguet proudly introduced a new version of this revolutionary timepiece. This rose-gold watch is still fitted with Breguet’s self-winding 777 movement, with silicon used for the escapement and balance spring. In this model, when the push-piece at 10 o’clock is activated, or when a pre-set time arrives, the musical piece played by the chimes is Bach’s “Badinerie,” which is known as the final movement of his orchestral suite N°2 in B minor. This has been achieved with a mechanism similar to that of a music box, except that instead of the traditional cylinder, it uses a disk with pegs that act in sequence on the 15 blades of the keyboard. A second innovation — an engine-turned membrane in metallic glass fitted under the movement — amplifies the sound so that the tune can be heard without sacrificing water-resistance.
Breguet has conducted intense research into acoustics, enabling the company to develop the materials for the keyboard and membrane that would produce the best sound. The membrane is made of Swatch Group’s proprietary “LiquidMetal,” which has also been used in watches from Omega and Blancpain. It allows the gold caseback to have a number of openings so as to create a Helmholtz resonator to broadcast the sound, while maintaining water resistance at 3 bar (30 meters). Finally, Breguet’s research into magnetism has led to the brand fitting a magnetic governor for the melody. This patented system, which consists of isolated magnets in a cage, reduces unwanted sound while avoiding the wear found in conventional centrifugal governors. Above all it ensures that the melody proceeds at the right tempo.
The dial of this “La Musicale” Classique model has a traditional center-mounted display of the hours, minutes and seconds, along with a power-reserve indicator at 3 o’clock and a visible indicator that the melody is playing between 9 and 10 o’clock.
Such a work of art has to be immaculately appointed. The hands, in traditional blued steel, are open-tipped in the Breguet style for the hours and minutes, while the seconds hands are in the “key of G” pattern. The dial is diamond-polished by hand to capture the light at different angles. While the music is playing, the dial, which is connected to the disc of pegs, rotates completely. During the 20 to 25 seconds of music, the engine-turned finishes make the dial come alive in shimmering colors. Furthermore, an ingenious blocking system developed by Breguet ensures that there is always enough energy to play the entire tune.
As it did for the previous model, Breguet supplies Reference 7800 “La Musicale” with a special box made of resonant wood. The alpine spruce, selected as the ideal tonewood by makers of stringed instruments, acts as a soundboard. This wood, which is found in the Risoud forest in the Vallee de Joux, where Breguet is headquartered, noticeably amplifies the music played by the watch.
More of my photos of the Ref. 7800 La Musicale appear below. For additional photos, and to hear an audio recording of the watch’s musical chimes, check out my original post on Watch-Insider.com.