Of the new crop of Breguet Marine watches, this simple three-hand Marine 5517 in titanium is my favorite option (here as the ref. 5517TI/G2/TZ0 with the matching bracelet). aBlogtoWatch first covered the debut of the Breguet Marine 5517 watch here, and today I go hands-on with this interesting and high-end casual Swiss watch that has a lot of details to discuss.
Breguet recently re-introduced its important Marine collection. The high-end to daily-casual Marine collection was always about marrying Breguet’s rich history of fine watchmaking with the trendiness of a marine-world themed causal sport watch. Between the Marine and the Type XX collection, Breguet has always had the potential to create very good sport watches — when they put their mind to it. The good news is that, moving forward, we have been told that Breguet will still, indeed, focus on sport watches in a bigger way.
Last year, Breguet debuted the refreshed Marine watch collection with the Marine 5527 Chronograph on a strap . That model is related to this Marine 5517, as it has the same color dial and is part of the same family, but I happen to like the three-hand model more, if only because the dial is more symmetrical in design (the chronograph is “lop-sided,” thanks to one larger subdial).
Breguet’s challenge with the Marine is significant. As the timepiece collector world continues its fascination with other high-end marine-theme watches, such as the Patek Philippe Nautilus, Vacheron Constantin Overseas, and Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, the Breguet Marine isn’t typically part of the same conversation. From a quality and heritage level, it should be. So what is holding the Breguet Marine back? In my opinion, it is partly due to deficient marketing — but more immediately, because the Marine watch isn’t distinctive enough, per se. What do I mean by this? Well, if you see a Royal Oak across the room, you know what it is. Even a semi-trained eye can pick out a Royal Oak in a crowd because of the distinctive shape of the case. Breguet’s problem is that, right now, the Marine doesn’t have that awareness power.
The easiest way to solve that problem is by making the Marine look very visually distinctive. A more long-term way to handle that challenge is to remind consumers, through an ongoing marketing campaign, what qualities the Breguet Marine has and why it should be regarded any time someone wants a daily-wear luxury lifestyle watch.
In execution, the Breguet Marine 5517 is mostly a wonderful watch. A trained eye will immediately notice a host of fine details the moment the watch is put on the wrist. First and foremost is the incredible light weight of the grade 5 titanium case and bracelet. Breguet machines the titanium so well, and its slightly gray color matches the dial very nicely. At 40mm-wide, the case wears very comfortably, even if it is a bit thicker than the competition at 11.5mm-thick. Case water resistance is good at 100 meters. Little touches such as the gently articulating lugs (for wearing comfort) really do help separate the Marine in a class of its own when it comes to overall engineering effort for all the watch’s parts.
The bracelet itself has a simple three-link design but is fully of welcome details. Look at the side of the bracelet to notice how most links don’t have screw holes. Rather, Breguet developed a system with a securing mechanism for the links using a screw located on the inside of the bracelet. Also note the fold-over deployant clasp. It might look standard, but Breguet developed an entirely new deployant with elegant pushers that looks and feels very good to operate. All that is missing in the bracelet in my opinion is a micro-adjust system (though I am not sure it would be necessary).
When I first discussed the Marine 5527 Chronograph, I expressed a bit of confusion as to what Breguet was trying to do with the hour markers. They are Roman numerals with filled-in luminant, which makes them a bit difficult to spot for what they are. On the chronograph, they looked a bit more out of place than on the three-hand 5517 version of the Marine. With this cleaner dial, I can, first and foremost, appreciate the lovely hands (even though they still remind me of Baume & Mercier), and finally the hour markers feel a bit more appropriate on the overall design. The dial detailing itself is immaculate, including the beautifully sculpted date window, nicely polished hands, and the sunburst finishing on the anthracite-colored dial which emanates not from the dial center, but from the position of the logo under 12 o’clock.
One of my favorite case design details is the “wavy” crown guard. The other, of course, is the movement. Hand-finishing on the automatic rotor is a nice hint as to the level of craft Breguet dedicates to its watches. If you put everything on paper, the price of the Breguet Marine makes sense, even if it is certainly premium in its positioning. The movement is the in-house-made Breguet caliber 777A, and it operates at 4Hz (28,800 bp) with 55 hours of power reserve. It features silicon parts for the regulation system, including the balance spring, as well as the escapement. The 179 part movement is wonderfully well-polished and, as I said above, the 18k gold rotor design is just the icing on the cake. Functions for the automatic movement are the time with the date.
For now, if you want a Breguet Marine watch on a bracelet, the titanium models will be the only ones available. This includes this three-hand Breguet Marine 5517, but also the Marine Chronograph and the Marine Alarm. Each come with the same color gray dial and a matching titanium case and bracelet combination. Handsome and comfortable, the Breguet Marine 5517 is a solid daily wear for someone who likes the emotion that donning a Breguet gives them. From an engineering an execution perspective, the newest Marine is a very good product. Breguet will need to invest in the marketing the collection for a while. I hope that they appreciate that it took brands like Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe decades to popularize their competitor watches, and they have the benefit of being able to ride on the Gerald Genta name.
It’s easy for a brand to become typecast, to become defined by its greatest successes. What Breguet has managed to do with the Marine collection is move away from the widely held image of opulence that more closely resembles the wares made by the hands of the company’s eponymous founder. Straying too far from the ranch is never a good idea, but as visually different as the Breguet Marine 5517 in titanium and on a titanium bracelet is, it does not mess with the quality Breguet is famous for. Here we have, in no uncertain terms, a Breguet that has been designed to be used, and, if not abused, very much put through its paces in the real world.
The dial is an attractive and versatile slate-gray. The base material used for the dial is gold, which is known as an excellent material when it comes to holding a delicate finish. The sunburst dial really comes to life in natural light, and although the limited press shots don’t show it here, certainly gives the watch the kind of luxury appearance you’d expect from a Breguet.
Odd as it is to see, this Breguet has luminant on the dial and the hands. The Roman numerals that mark the hours take the form of small applied plaques with the numbers carved out of them. Into the recesses, strong Super-LumiNova is sunk. One of the coolest things about this watch is having luminous Breguet hands.
With their eternally classical shape, it seems at first a little incongruous to have them glow in the dark, but if you’re able to buy in to the idea of a sporty Breguet, it becomes very easy to enjoy, very quickly. With just three faceted gold hands and a date at 3’clock to deal with, this is an incredibly legible, wearable release from one of the Swatch Group’s premier brands.