British war drama, The Darkest Hour, hit cinemas earlier this month, starring Gary Oldman disappearing into the role of William Churchill in his first few weeks as British Prime Minister during World War II. Talk about a baptism of fire. If you haven’t seen it already, do yourself a favour and buy tickets now. It is simply a fantastic movie and has already earned Oldman the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama.
Also appearing in the film, although in a very much understated capacity (only its chain is visible throughout the movie), was an official replica of Churchill’s beloved Breguet No. 765 pocket watch, faithfully reproduced by the brand down to the last detail. Known for his taste for the finer things in life, Churchill was just one of many high profile public figures at the time to make Breguet his watchmaker of choice, which got us thinking; what Breguet watches would Churchill choose to wear if he were alive today? After some heated debate, here’s what we decided.
Although Churchill always favoured the pocket watch over the wristwatch, as did many men
of his stature at the time, we believe if he were alive today he would choose a Breguet Classique 5277 for his daily wear. As its name suggests, the Classique collection channels the classic Breguet aesthetic to create the modern gentleman’s wrist watch of today, and the 5277 is an exceptional example of this.
Offered in your choice of 18k rose or white gold, the slim case measures a discrete 38mm on the wrist and is just 8mm thick. A time-only watch, hours and minutes are indicated centrally by Breguet’s trademark blued steel hands, with running seconds shown on a sub-dial at six o’clock.
The silvered gold dial has been hand-engraved on a rose engine to create an understated but eye-catching hobnail pattern (Abraham Louis Breguet was the first to use this technique in watchmaking).
As a man known for his work ethic, it’s important that Mr. Churchill’s watch can keep up with him, which is why the hand-wound, in-house Calibre 515DR is perfectly suited to the job. Equipped with a silicon balance spring and Swiss straight-line escapement, the Breguet Classique 5277 offers a healthy 96 hours of power, as shown by the indicator on the dial between 1 and 2 o’clock.
For formal occasions, when Mr. Churchill has the desire to show off his good taste and sophistication, he will undoubtedly turn to his exceptional Breguet Tradition 7057. Considered by many collectors to be the ultimate historical tribute to the brand and the most faithful to the spirit of its founder, French horological virtuoso Abraham Louis Breguet, the Tradition collection takes antique Breguet Souscription (subscription) watches from the late 18th-century for its inspiration.
Available in four different versions and two different metals, 18k white gold or 18k red gold, the 40mm case plays host to what can only be described as a horological spectacle. At 12 o’clock there is an off-centre dial, replete with Roman numerals for the hours and Breguet hands.
Despite its small size, the dial actually boasts 3 different patterns, all of which have been carefully hand-engraved on a rose engine: Clou de Paris in the center, circular graining on the hour ring and a grain d’orge (barley grain) pattern separating the different zones of the dial. A power reserve indicator to the left keeps track of the 50-hours of power the manual-wound, Breguet Calibre 507DR1 can provide.
As you can see, much of the inner workings of that movement are revealed on the dial side in spectacular fashion. In fact, the entire gear train is on display in front of you and in constant motion. Beginning with the centrally mounted barrel, we then move to the center / second wheel on the left, then the third wheel underneath and the fourth wheel right in the middle, which is responsible for the running seconds and as such completes a full rotation every 60 seconds. To the right of this we find the escapement wheel, the pallet fork and the balance wheel. Given Mr. Churchill was a frequent visitor to the House of Breguet, we can imagine he would derive great delight from explaining how this complex looking mechanism works to curious onlookers.
Churchill always wanted to be at the centre of the action, and in his younger years, this meant serving in the British army in World War I as well as a working as a war correspondent. He learned to fly in 1913, just ten years after the first aeroplane flight, and had several near crashes. During World War II, he famously crossed U-Boat infested waters and flew through enemy-contested skies to visit Allied leaders and the troops in the field. For these reasons, and many more, we are certain that Churchill would have a Breguet Type XX 3817 in his collection, most likely for weekend wear at his beloved country house in Chartwell, Kent.
Originally designed in the 1950s for the French naval air army, the Type XX returns to the Breguet collection in a civilian version with a decidedly contemporary look and feel. Presented in a 42mm case in steel with a bidirectional rotating bezel and screw-down crown, this is a pilot’s watch that’s ready for action.
Equipped with flyback chronograph functionality, the slate grey dial features oversized luminescent Arabic numerals for easy reading in all light conditions, whilst the date is shown via an aperture at 6 o’clock.There’s a 30-minute counter at and a 12-hour totalizer just above 6 o’clock. Small seconds are shown on the sub-dial at 9 o’clock, whilst elapsed chronograph minutes are shown on the central minute totalizer.
Making all this possible is the in-house Breguet Calibre 584 Q/2, an automatic movement offering a 48-hour power reserve. Visible through the sapphire caseback, the movement is equipped with an inverted in-line Swiss lever escapement with silicon pallets and a silicon balance-spring.
Unlike Churchill, we mere mortals more often than not have to satisfy ourselves with just one watch at a time. Like Churchill, however, you simply cannot go wrong with any one of the above watches, or indeed, any watch, from Breguet. If you would like to find out more about this incredible and storied watchmaker, please visit our Sydney boutique to discover the full range.