Breguet is one of the oldest watch brands in existence, it’s been around and thriving since 1775, and the brand’s style reflects this long heritage. The Breguet design language is heavily inspired by founder Abraham Breguet’s early pocket watches, and because of this, most people know the brand for its formal dress watches. However, just because they’re not the first name you think of when looking for a luxury sports watch doesn’t mean they should be ignored entirely. Here we’ll take a close look at the Breguet Marine Automatic 5517 in rose gold and see what makes it such a great option in such a crowded and hyped market segment.
The Breguet Marine is a relatively young watch model, but it carries with it the weight of Breguet’s larger-than-life reputation. The brand was founded by arguably the greatest watchmaker of all time, and its clientele includes Queen Marie-Antionette and Napoléon Bonaparte. In his day, Breguet was an extremely famous man and brand. He was even named the official chronometer maker of the French Royal Navy, a title the brand held for over 150 years, and while Breguet has many other feathers in its cap, it’s this specific accolade that led to the Marine’s creation.
The first Marine was introduced in 1990 and looked much more similar to the brand’s more formal timepieces. However, a couple of generations later, the watch has leaned into its rugged aquatic roots and asserted itself as a true sports watch. This modern reference is the result of a major facelift that came to the line in 2017 that took the watch from a waterproof Breguet to a legitimate contender in the luxury sports watch realm. That said, the design still has plenty of details that classic Breguet fans will love.
As we’ve come to expect from Breguet this watch is choked full of all kinds of gorgeous little details. Some of these details are pulled straight from Breguet’s usual bag of tricks, while other classic Breguet design traits have been reimagined a bit and given a slightly more contemporary styling. For example, the brand’s classic Breguet hands and numerals have been reshaped to be a bit softer and given a generous amount of lume, which I think gives them a younger, more sporty look. This playful attitude is carried over to the trapezoid-shaped date window with its Art Deco-styled numerals that have been sized to match this unusual shape. You’ll also notice there are small nods to the watch’s maritime origins in details like the five-minute markers on the minute track and in the counterweight of the seconds hand, both of which are based on nautical pennants.
The best feature on the gold slate grey dial, however, is easily the wave-patterned hand-guilloché finishing at the center. The pattern is unique to the marine collection, and it shows off Breguet’s famous engine-turned finishing technique that has been a trademark of the brand since the late 1700s. Complimenting this wave pattern at the center is a circular-grained border that serves as a backdrop for the hour indices. This use of different finishing techniques here is masterful, and it lets you know right away that this is a very high-quality timepiece.
Breguet has obviously given the dial a lot of attention, but that doesn’t mean the case has been forgotten. Measuring 40mm in diameter, its got a classic round shape with a stepped, cupped bezel with alternating brushed and satin finishes and sporty new lugs. While a big departure from the brand’s usual welded style, these proprietary lugs suit the purpose of the watch and inspire more confidence that the watch can be used during rigorous activity. Affixed to the lugs via nicely decorated but bold screws is a technical-looking dark grey rubber strap. The strap has a lot of character lines on the top side, and generous room for aeration on the underside, and overall it imparts a more laid-back vibe to the rose gold case.
Moving to the mid-case, you’ll find Breguet’s familiar fluted finishing that makes what is often a boring angle of the watch very interesting. Additionally, you’ll notice the crown guards are rather untraditional as they’re shaped to resemble a propellor. Yet another nod to the watch’s naval inspiration. On the caseback, you’ll have a full view of the beautifully finished movement thanks to the skeletonized rotor which allows for optimal viewing of the automatic winding movement.
Inside the Breguet Marine Automatic is the in-house caliber 777A. Breguet has a history of being at the cutting edge of movement technology and notably has not shied away from using novel materials like silicon. This automatic winding movement has a 55-hour power reserve, an inverted in-line escapement with silicon horns, an anti-shock system, and a silicon balance spring. The silicon components give the watch better rate stability and higher resistance to magnetism. This is a robust modern movement that is very capable of keeping up with an active lifestyle and as a cherry on top it’s finished beautifully.
Versus The Competition
The Breguet Marine is a luxury sports watch with a market value of just over $20k. That puts it into one of the hottest market segments currently and gives it a lot of competition. But given the brand cachet and quality of the timepiece, I think it’s toward the top of the pack and really only consider some of the best luxury sports watches as true competitors.
The most direct comparison in my mind is the A. Lange & Sohne Odysseus. Both sports watch come from brands that pride themselves on great finishing and primarily produce formal wristwatches. Additionally, both brands refused to cave to some of the design trends in the luxury sports watch category and stuck to what they do best. To me, both of these sports watches look like what a sports watch would look like if it was made in the early 1900s. The Odysseus is certainly a more popular and mainstream choice at the moment, but it’s not a full-blown hype watch just yet. That said, this white gold model is valued at about twice the Marine.
Another watch that I think compares well to the rose gold Marine Automatic is this Patek Philippe Aquanaut 18K 5167R. Both watches combine the elegance of a high-quality precious metal luxury watch with the durability and versatility of a sports watch. The Aquanaut is like the Marine, a product of the ’90s, and this rose gold version on a chocolate rubber strap looks good enough to eat. It’s a watch that will work great anywhere from the board room to the bar. However, it is one of the most coveted watches on the planet, and though its retail price is only about 12k more than the Marine at $40k, its value on the open market is a little over double that.
Both of these watches compare very well to the Marine in terms of design, purpose, and quality. However, the Marine seriously undercuts both in terms of value, and this makes the competition that much harder. The real determining factor on whether one chooses the Oddyseus or Aquanaut over the Marine is how much one connects with Marine’s distinct look.
The Breguet Marine is the sports watch for a watch collector who doesn’t really like sports watches. A collector who’s got all kinds of historically important pocket, dress, and complicated timepieces who considers themselves a bit of a historian of horology and really appreciates classic design. This watch is for a collector who doesn’t always wear a sports watch, but if they have to, it better be one with some serious horological provenance.
Breguet could have jumped on the bandwagon and made a Genta-esque sports watch just like so many other brands have done, and they probably would have made a lot of money doing so, but they didn’t. They stuck to their guns and made a sports watch that stays true to the brand and reflects its values, and I respect the hell out of them for it. Cheers Breguet, you did it your way.