Elegance is the only beauty that never fades: Introducing the new Breguet Reine de Naples 8918
“Elegance is the only beauty that never fades,” said Audrey Hepburn.
The new Breguet Reine de Naples 8918 takes its design inspiration from the legacy of the first Breguet wristwatch, adds in the brand’s existing design codes and combines them together for the first time with a white grand feu enamel dial.
The timeless beauty of these watches has been shining for the past 210 years. And the new Breguet Reine de Naples 8918 in white grand feu enamel ensures it hasn’t faded.
The Grand Feu Enamel
Breguet has been incorporating enamel into its collections this year – they introduced it in the Breguet Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat Automatique 5367.
In contrast to the deep blue enamel of that watch, the new Reine de Naples 8918 features a pristine, bright white grand feu enamel dial that has a unique grain and immutable colour effect. This natural sheen has been created after a delicate and laborious multi-stage process involving grinding and cleaning of the enamel, its application to the dial by applying thin and consistent layers, followed by heating the combination in a furnace at temperatures higher than 800°C, and finally polishing and again placing it in the kiln.
Mr Bonaparte, Ms Bonaparte, Mrs Caroline Murat
Since these watches have historical precedence, leading right up to the Queen of Naples, Caroline Murat, the youngest sister of Napoléon Bonaparte, so it is only fitting we include this review with a quote from the famous French conquerer.
“Greatness is nothing unless it be lasting,” said Napoléon Bonaparte.
The measure of the true success of the new Breguet Reine de Naples 8918 can be measured by this quote. The watch is a direct descendent of the first wristwatch known and designed to mankind, the Breguet watch number 2639 for the Queen of Naples.
I like reviewing Breguet watches. Why? Allow me to paint a picture first. Rather, make it a storyboard. For effect, you can play the theme of the Mission Impossible movies in your head if you like.
The client: A Queen
The location: Quai de l’Horloge, in Paris.
The era: 1810 to 1812.
The task: Making of the first wristwatch.
The hero: Abraham-Louis Breguet
The Climax: A lost watch, the Breguet watch number 2639
The Sequel: The new Reine de Naples 8918
Think about the above quote for a second; “Greatness is nothing unless it be lasting”. Now look at the watch in question, the new Breguet Reine de Naples 8918 grand feu enamel. We take watches for granted these days, but this is based on one of the first wristwatches ever!
In 1810, Abraham-Louis Breguet began work on a timepiece that was to be defined by its exceptionally thin case with a few complications such as a repeater, a moon-phase indicator, and also a thermometer, all cased inside an oblong, oval body featuring an engine-turned silver dial and mounted on a wristlet of hair and gold thread.
Marking a sort of tribute to the first wristwatch created, Breguet in 2020 has reinvented the ladies’ watch with new material for this collection that blends elegance with horological innovativeness.
This is why I like reviewing Breguet watches. Horological history rarely gets better than this.
Breguet Reine de Naples 8918
The heart used in the reference 8918BB/28/964 D00D — Caliber 537/3 — is a self-winding mechanical movement adjusted in 6 positions and features 26 jewels, 191components, beats at the frequency of 3.5 hertz (25’200 vph), and allows the user a wearable 45-hour power reserve.
The 19.74mm or 8¾ lignes (or 8¾ ‴ as the brands sometimes like to say) diameter movement is composed of a silicon balance spring, silicon in-line Swiss lever escapement, and a Breguet balance wheel. The movement whose each component has been decorated by hand can be admired through a round-shaped sapphire crystal-covered display caseback opening. The case-back also features an individual number engraved next to this opening.
The above movement is cased inside a 36.5mm x 28.45mm x 10.05mm (height) 18-karat white gold (with a finely fluted case-band) oval-shaped body that offers an okay 30m (3 ATM) water-resistance.
The fluted case-band, another Breguet trademark, adds to the charm and lineage of the watch. The fine grooves are enhanced with double beading on the case-band and are achieved by cold-rolling the fluted pattern into the case-band and it is then finished by hand on a mechanical workpiece-holder.
The case-band is topped by a gold bezel that meets the peripheral flange of the dial with the use of 117 diamonds weighing ~0.99 carats. Complimenting these diamonds is the crown at 4’o clock that features yet another jewel, a briolette-cut diamond weighing ~0.26 carats.
While the case is not held together for the wrist by the original’s wristlet of hair and gold thread, it does feature a rather beautiful blue alligator leather strap with a triple folding buckle.
Nicely tying in the body with the strap is the buckle that is set with further 28 diamonds weighing ~0.17 carats.
And now for the star of the new release, the reason why this watch is different than the existing Reine de Naples range, the grand feu enamel dial.
The white watch face shows the functions of hours and minutes with the “Grand Feu” enamel dial signed Breguet at 11.30. It features open-tipped Breguet hour and minute hands in blued steel that work well against the white backdrop. The hours chapter has complimenting blue Breguet Arabic numerals that are off-centred at 6’o clock adding geometric play to the dial.
Like lots of Breguet watches, the chapter ring has the markers in the format that I like to call Emojis. These numerals harp back to the French Revolution era and are in the form of tiny dots, diamond shapes and stylised fleur-de-lys — latter is a stylised lily that is sometimes used as a decorative symbol on watch faces — at five-minute intervals. The diamond shapes decorate 12, 3, 6, and 9; the fleur-de-lys decorate 1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 10, and 11; while the tiny dots mark the minutes in between.
Finally, leading the diamond-studded appeal of the case, crown and the strap buckle onto the dial is the pear-shaped diamond at 6’o clock weighing ~0.08 carats.
And as if emerging from this small oval-shaped diamond are the Breguet numerals that circle the larger oval spaced dial they are all a part of.
Watch Ya Gonna Do About It
The new Breguet Reine de Naples 8918 in white grand feu enamel is a fine example of taking a historically relevant watch and re-packaging it to fit the modern era aesthetics.
There have been a fair few elements of this release that have impressed us: the execution of grand feu enamel, the fluted case-band, the link to the first wristwatch, use of secret signature at 3’o clock, and the overall undeniable elegance.
But if I was to choose one specific element to praise again, it would be the striking legibility of the dial.
The typical Breguet hands in blued steel offer exceptional contrast to the white dial base. These slim, sleek, hollow “moon” tip watch hands were designed by the man himself, Abraham-Louis Breguet, back around 1783 and are the definition of simple and easy to read hands that visually resemble a hollow apple or a crescent moon.
Complementing them are the shaded and stylised blue Breguet numerals that have a quirky, eccentric sense of placement on the dial. They retain the elegance but introduce a sense of fun to the otherwise formal dial.
The blues of the numerals further complement the brand signature and the text “émaillé Grand Feu”, all again in matching blue enamel. Further enhancing this eccentricity is the off-centred hours chapter ring that features the emojis we mentioned earlier.
In a nod to the refinement and uniqueness of these pieces, Breguet is also offering the owners of these watches the option of recording their name in the brand’s archives that have been kept since the late 18th century.
With the new Reine de Naples 8918 in white grand feu enamel, Breguet has managed to retain the greatness of its ladies’ watches’ elegance preserved through time. Caroline Murat would have smiled.
For more information on this watch and other Breguet watches, head to their website here.