Editor’s note: This is a conversational hands-on review of my Breguet Marine 5817. It’s obviously not a new watch release from 2021, but it was new to me last year. And as watch honeymoons go, this one fortunately still hasn’t ended. For our other detailed hands-on reviews, please head to our dedicated reviews section here.
Disclaimer: We deal with a fair bit of sensitive topics regarding cancel culture. We mean no disrespect to any movement, and absolutely condone any form of racism, sexism, or inequality. This ‘product’ of written information — factual and /or opinion based — is neither pro or against the cancel culture; it’s simply the team at WYGDAI looking at it through the lens of the Breguet Marine 5817— making it a case for why Breguet deserves to be considered on par with the ‘Holy Trinity’ of watches — and what it could mean for the watch industry. Brace yourselves, it’s a long read.
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~ tangible or intangible creations of a particular culture reflecting a culture’s perspective
1. The Moment Defined by Numbers: 2021, 19, 12+, 5817
For me, it has been a numbers game. The year was 2021. Covid-19 still loomed. More than 12 personalities or “products” of our society were so-called ‘cancelled’. And I bought the Breguet Marine 5817.
For those of you who may not be aware, cancel culture is a trend that’s perhaps best simply defined by a New York Times sentiment that reads: “The public shaming of those deemed moral transgressors…”.
The New York Post has called the cancel culture the “toxic trend”.
Across the various publications such as the New York Post and Good To Know, I counted in double digits “products” that were cancelled just in 2021 alone.
Perhaps the most ‘inclusive’ description I saw was The Times headline “Cancel culture is a scourge but it’s rooted in goodness”.
Dave Chappelle explicitly implies in his last Netflix and apparently ‘cancelled’ special The Closer, that the incident of the “Transgender comedian and Philly native Daphne Dorman dies by suicide” is to an extent brought upon by the concept of online bullying and victim blaming.
The lines between who to cancel and what goes wrong get blurred.
And I am not defending some of the horrible things that some not very nice people may have allegedly done, but when Dr. Seuss and Looney Tunes are “cancelled”, one wonders, where is this heading ?
The reason why I am talking about this is that my 2021 was surrounded by three ‘products’, tangible, and non-tangible: Breguet Marine 5817, cancel culture, and Covid-19.
In the past few years, partly due to social media, both the voices for cancel culture and popularity/prices of some watch models have morphed into something of a demon, where no comedian can really make a joke without hurting somebody’s feelings, and no watch enthusiast can genuinely buy at retail an exceptional watch like a Submariner, Royal Oak or a Nautilus.
The Daily Beast ran a headline last year that read: “In this nightmare existence, no one is canceled—but everyone is terrible”.
This sounds true.
I couldn’t help but relate this to the watch collector’s and enthusiasts attitudes in the watch industry.
I was on a forum not long ago where someone had asked whether Breguet deserved more recognition on par with the “Holy Trinity’. Barring a few educated responses, the majority was hell bent on ‘cancelling’ any opinion that Breguet could perhaps be ‘equal’ to the ‘Holy Trinity’. It was like Breguet had personally offended them, or that the new ‘woke’ generation of watch enthusiasts had only seen adverts on social media from Rolex and the ‘Holy Trinity’ brands.
I even read a comment somewhere that said ask any rapper and they will list ‘Royal Oak’ as a watch brand and not Audemars Piguet.
This reminded me of the 2015 debate where Huffington Post to Business Insider, from Vice to The Daily Mail, everyone was debating on how to explain to Kanye West’s social-media addicted and worshipping fans that the singer did not in-fact give some new dude called Paul a break; that that someone is also known as Sir Paul McCartney and is part of a legendary band called the Beatles.
There is a whole lot of grey zone here, but just like the entertainment business, I believe that the watch enthusiasts on social media who have come to bestow on themselves the title of the messiah of the watch industry are in-fact indirectly harming the industry.
There is a whole lot more to Patek Philippe than just the Nautilus. They have a legacy worth protecting, not simply forgetting or dismissing it because at the moment Nautilus is hot.
Disney had to remove the 1941 animated ‘Dumbo’ from kids’ profiles because allegedly the crows were racist. True. But consider the context. Also, these are crows. And animated. And sketched and written in a different time and culture. Since when did we as a product of modern culture get so fu&^ing delicate that animated crows are now haunting us? Disney could leave the original scene, with a stat warning or advisory on the screen advising instead of ‘cancelling’ the movie.
There should be more to the world of Harry Potter, and more respect for the person who actually wrote these, than ‘cancellation’ of JK Rowling because of her views. True, her opinion about transgender people is disrespectful. Discrimination (racism, sexism, et al) of any sort is wrong.
Hate the sin, not the sinner.
There is a whole body of work by Dave Chappelle that’s guided the world of stand-up comedy for years now, and his body of work should not be solely judged based on some of his jokes. Again, hate the sin, not the sinner.
Breguet Marine 5817 may not be as popular as the Nautilus or the Royal Oak. But diss the circumstances, not the freakin’ brand.
There is definitely more happiness and joy found in millions of kids’ faces when being enthralled by the world of Dr. Seuss than simply ‘cancelling’ his expansive portfolio.
And there is definitely a point to be made that Breguet stands tall on its achievements, and is not ‘less’ than the ‘Holy Trinity’ (and more on that in a bit).
Watches are products that are manufactured or refined for sale; we as watch enthusiasts in the social media age are becoming “products” of a warped culture, that is perpetuated by lack of facts, praise or hatred without solid foundations, and the disregard for distinction between facts and opinions.
If we are not careful, the true legacy of brands — and for the purpose of this review limiting ourselves to brands such as Patek Philippe, AP, Vacheron, Rolex and Breguet — could be lost in the matrix of disjointed facts and cancel culture mind-set.
2. The Moment Which Is Enriched By Legacy
2021 has had its moments; from being a total cluster-fu&% at times to surprisingly breathable, the year along with 2020 will not be easily forgotten. It was also the year when I finally managed to acquire my grail watch, the Breguet Marine 5817.
For some of you who may not know, this beautiful Breguet was introduced by the Swatch group back in 2004/5, and was officially discontinued — went off the Breguet’s website — last year in 2021. At the end of its journey, it retailed for a cool 27’300 AUD on a steel bracelet (or 22’300 SGD but on a rubber strap). That’s a lot of dough for a stainless steel timepiece. But peel the layers, and honestly, if I had the means, I wouldn’t have been surprised this retailed for twice that amount.
The 5817 series is also disruptive for the brand in various aspects.
The 2005’s Breguet Marine 5817 was also the first watch in a non-precious case material and available on a rubber strap. Not only that, it was also the first from the brand to introduce the grande date.
In the steel avatar, it was released in dial colour versions of white and black, with also a limited run of blue dials. Even though blue is my colour, personally, when it came to the Breguet Marine 5817, I have always been drawn the most to the black dialled version, so was glad that that’s the one I ended up with.
The modern day Marine collection in general was introduced in 1990, though its roots go back to 1815 when A.L. Breguet was appointed by King Louis VIII to be the master horologer of the Royal French Navy and the La Marine collection saw daylight.
When you are buying a product that’s so deeply soaked in horological history, it’s hard not to be swayed on an emotional level by the legacy you are purchasing into, even if it is very distilled and vaguely connected in this day and age.
The Breguet Marine 5817ST technically has been replaced by the Breguet 5517 in titanium back in 2018, but between the two, I would pick the 5817 any day. The new Breguet 5517 looks like it was designed by the same person who designed the Ulysse Nardin Marine watches, and nothing wrong there, except, two similar pieces with the same freaking nomenclature.
Breguet I have always believed is different, and the 5817 embodies that difference. Also, we all have our favourite brands, and I have no qualms in accepting that Breguet is indeed my favourite watch brand.
3. The Moment Where The Joy Is In The Mother-fu&%ing Chase
I must admit, and am sure many watch enthusiasts would agree, sometimes there is more fun in the chase for your grail watch than in its acquisition. I have lusted after the Breguet Marine 5817 since what feels like eternity; from looking at every photo across multiple forums, to visiting my local ADs who stocked the brand, to non-stop talking to my wife about it, I don’t think I have ever been more in love with a product than the 5817.
But that’s that; 27’300 AUD is a sh&%-load of money, something that my bitter half was never going to ‘allow’ me to spend on any ‘object’. So I pursued the watch from a manageable distance, never allowing myself to get too close for comfort. But like some would say to be like the persistent Pepé Le Pew cartoon character that was ironically cancelled last year, I did pursue it online on every instance I could. Perhaps like Pepé Le Pew, I was constantly on the quest for love.
And this became the fun part. But then Covid hit. Life changed, pace altered, circumstances made the hair change colour, and no longer was the chase sufficient. Life can be short, and I definitely wanted my grail in my collection. And it has definitely helped take the burden off the entire cancel culture debate as well.
4. The Moment When That Dial Stares Into Your Soul
One of the esteemed watch writers from our industry, Elizabeth Doerr from Quill & Pad refers to the Breguet Marine 5817 as “one of my favorite watches of the last 20 years”. That coming from someone who has been in the industry longer than me is high praise. Of course if you ask me, I would say that it is the best watch from this century.
And this high praise is in big part thanks to that dial execution. Now I realise that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, and given my own wife literally hates how this looks, I can only imagine that this is not everyone’s cup of tea.
Most of the criticism I have read online points out to those prominent and attention commanding welded lugs. I like them.
Instead of using traditional spring bars like most brands, the Breguet Marine 5817 makes use of screw-pins that even though make the task of changing straps a bore, add a sense of security.
They along with the wave pattern crown guards and cold rolled side case-bands add a unique personality to the timepiece, one that sets it apart from other steel sports watches in the market.
The fine grooves on the sides are achieved as a fluted pattern is cold-rolled into the case band then finished by hand on a mechanical workpiece-holder.
But it is the dial (and complementing case-back treatment) that’s the real star here.
The flame guilloche pattern in the middle of the dial when caressed by light is breath-stopping. And in an incredible case of paying attention to detail, the same spinal sun-ray pattern is repeated on the hand guilloched rotor visible on the case back.
This guilloche is hand-executed, and sits atop a gold dial. Not brass, but gold.
As a side note, there is a story from 2012 on Hodinkee that talks about RO’s tapisserie pattern dials being made, and how their dials at least back then had a Patek Philippe connection; these were made by now Richemont-owned Stern Creations.
Another watch website World Tempus also reports that “Stern Créations of Geneva is not only one of the most famous dial manufactories but is also the only one proficient in almost every technique known in this field”.
The latter have also been known to make dials for Breguet, so it would be interesting to know whether the dial of my Breguet Marine 5817 is made by them or in-house by Breguet. It is also this collaborative spirit of the industry that I admire.
Anyway, I digress.
Coming back to the dial of the Breguet Marine 5817ST, it is a solid gold plate which is first worked with a hand graver to outline the design, and then it is silver coated. It is executed on a cam operated machine, guided by hand.
The dial of the Breguet Marine 5817 is also divided into zones, lending to it a three-dimensional personality. In the center there’s that flame guilloche disc. It is framed by a circular hour track that is fairly carved out and sunken, and features not printed but hand-applied Roman numerals in black that complement the colouring of the central disc and the peripheral minutes/ second’s track. The hour track base is silvered and features subtle but noticeable in the light brushed treatment.
This black peripheral track is again raised, matching the height of the central disc. It features luminous markings that frankly require a lot more to say that this watch has sufficient lume (one of its rare drawbacks).
At 12 is the stereotypical unique single number that helps identify the provenance of these watches.
Mirroring it at 6’o clock is that grandly executed big date, with its aperture following perfectly in sync with the appliqué numerals. To watch this date change is to be in the presence of divine rhythmic motion. And underneath are the magical words: “Swiss Guilloche Main”, implying this is hand-executed.
Given the central disc is black, I also appreciate that the date wheel is also black, bringing a sense of uniformity to the dial.
Amidst all this stunning horological scenery are the iconic Breguet hands, that showcase the celebrated hollow, eccentric “moon” tip watch hands.
5. The Moment When You Touch Your Grail
Acquiring one’s grail (watch) is a special moment in time. In that moment, the world stops. People’s conversations go on mute. Your wife’s angry looks as you get the credit card out of the wallet are bounced off an imaginary shield encapsulating you and your grail. Between the time you look at the ‘for sale’ sign next to your grail to it being on your wrist non-stop for a week, there’s heaven on earth.
One accidental look at the dial and the birds start chirping. The city might be sleeping, but for you, the sun is out, the world is at peace, and you are floating on air.
A sense of calm takes over, and if you are really lucky, its lingering ‘aroma’ stays until your heart is set on another timepiece.
But in rare cases, no matter what watch purchase follows it, the grail is still king. The ruler of your watch box. The undisputed champion of your horological madness.
The Breguet Marine 5817ST Big Date for me defines that magical moment, being repeated on loop every-time I put it on. Much to my wife’s jealousy, the honeymoon period between my Breguet and me has not ended (though my wallet is happier).
As you can probably tell, I am madly in love with my Breguet Marine 5817ST. Unashamed and unapologetic. That’s how the dice rolls, and my wife will just have to roll along with the punches. (And as I type this I have a sinking feeling that my next week or two are going to be spent on the couch).
The harsh truth, however, is that anyone I know doesn’t care about this particular timepiece. Most of them don’t know what Breguet is — sadly the watch community is a tiny speck within the universe — and the ones who do are more interested in collecting the same couple of brands, over and over again.
I have an analogy for the watch industry; we are like an ant hill. Small enough for the world to go by without really paying attention, but within our own universe, very dedicated, hard working, and super enthusiastic.
The obsession with a few brands doesn’t guide my collecting journey, but it did make me realise how under-appreciated the Breguet Marine 5817ST Big Date really was.
6. The Moment You Realise What An Under-appreciated Gem The Breguet Marine 5817ST Really Is
The concept of Retail vs Resale has always intrigued me, socially when it comes to the watch industry; and even more so in the past 5 years, give or take a couple.
The hand art and engineering that has gone into a Breguet watch is usually not the same as the one that goes into a Rolex timepiece. Rolex watches are exceptional for daily wear, no doubt. But they are more more common than Breguet. A Rolex Submariner also happens to be less expensive (and very, very fairly priced) at retail.
Breguet Marine 5817ST features an engine-turned dial that is created by an actual human and not just computers or CNC-machines. They work on restored antique rose engine-turning machines and Breguet is one of the only few Maisons to have this done in-house as far as I am aware.
My version doesn’t feature the secret signature though it does carry forward the individual number idea, and also the hand-finished coined-fluted case-band.
Show anyone the Chrono24 listings of the Breguet Marine 5817ST and say any Rolex sports watch side-by-side with their respective RRP costs, and their jaws drop. I interact with ‘normal’ — non-watch world — people a fair bit, and the discrepancy is unfathomable. This is not to say that any one of these watches is superior to the other, but it still begets the point.
But it is the aftermarket pricing that’s shocking. Herd mentality and all that.
But the good news is, that this is the moment in time to be investing in Breguet watches in general, especially the used ones.
7. The Moment You Place Breguet Alongside ‘The Holy Trinity’
Even my mother knows this — she is someone who can’t tell the difference between quartz and mechanical by the way — that in the world of watches, there are three brands that make up the ‘Holy Trinity’: Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and Vacheron Constantin. And there’s Rolex, which despite not featuring in this list, leaves every brand behind when it comes to sale numbers and fame.
Monochrome covered this last year, and nicely put it as “The Top 50 Swiss Watch Brands of 2020… And the Invincible Hegemony of Rolex”.
I tried placing Breguet as a brand within the overarching context of the other brands, and find it hard to believe that it is not considered a part of the best of the best.
I have heard a lot of debate and chatter online when enthusiasts rant about how Breguet stopped being ‘Breguet’ long ago and is now simply ‘Swatch’. Honestly, that doesn’t seem logical or justified.
For starters, a direct descendant of Abraham-Louis Breguet is still associated with the brand, Emmanuel Breguet, who is the Vice President of the Manufacture and the Head of Patrimony at Montres Breguet. Not many brands these days can say the same. I reckon the reason why Breguet is not famous is that they hardly do any publicity or marketing.
According to the brand’s website and Mr Emmanuel Breguet, it was A.L Breguet who made the first wristwatch for the Queen of Naples. Bob’s Watches has an article reflecting the same as well. It also reports that years later, only in 1868, Patek Philippe made a bracelet watch for the Countess Koscowicz of Hungary.
I am by no means intending to belittle any other brand’s outstanding contribution to the watch industry, but it almost gets to me when people on forums yak on without knowing their facts.
And apparently, it was his son, Antoine-Louis Breguet, who invented the winding crown in December 1830 with the watch no.4952 but didn’t file the patent.
Louis-Clément, who represented the third generation, sold the watchmaking branch in 1870 to the head of the workshop, Edward Brown.
That in a way is akin to brothers Jean and Charles Henri Stern investing in Patek, Philippe & Cie. They later acquired the company, and still run it today.
Anyway, the Brown family after a century of running Breguet — in context, Rolex has been around for just about 117 years and Patek has been owned by the Stern family for only about 70 years in present day — in 1970 sold it to the Chaumet brothers. In 1987, Breguet was bought by Investcorp and production moved to the Vallée de Joux in Switzerland.
It was under their ownership that the Breguet Marine collection was launched in 1990.
Finally, in 1999, under the command of none other than Nicolas G. Hayek, Breguet was acquired by the Swatch Group. It is here that it still thrives, but is sadly under-appreciated.
Here’s a partial timeline of Audemars Piguet, Breguet, Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin (all taken from the brand’s respective websites and/or Wikipedia):
- 1755 – Jean-Marc Vacheron found this workshop
- 1775 – Breguet opens his workshop
- 1780 – Breguet watches use an oscillating platinum-weight mass (the Perpétuelle)
- 1783 – Breguet hands and Arabic numerals introduced – still used in modern watchmaking by other brands as well
- 1786 – Guilloche dials used for the first time by Breguet – fortunately my Breguet Marine 5817 features this ‘legacy’
- 1810 – Development of the first wristwatch, ordered by the Queen of Naples, completed in 1812. Queen of Naples June 8th 1810, Breguet conceived and made the first wristwatch ever known, the Breguet watch number 2639
- 1819 – François Constantin joint hands with Jacques Barthélémi Vacheron (grandson of the founder) to form Vacheron et Constantin
- 1839 – Patek, Czapek & Cie is founded by Antoine Norbert de Patek and François Czapek
- 1868 – Patek Philippe creates the wristwatch made for Countess Koscowicz of Hungary
- 1875 – Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet establish their workshop
- 1881 – Gets the name Audemars Piguet & Cie
- 1889 – Vacheron Constantin makes the first ladies series-produced wristwatches
- 1932 – Brothers Jean and Charles Henri Stern invest in Patek, Philippe & Cie
- 1940 – Georges Ketterer acquired the majority portion of the stock of Vacheron & Constantin from Charles Constantin
- 1954 – Breguet Type 20 and Type XX Chronographs released
- 1958 – Henri Stern becomes president of Patek Philippe
- 1970 – The company officially changed its name to Vacheron Constantin
- 1987 – Vacheron Constantin changes hands (Sheik Ahmed Zaki Yamani), roughly the same time Breguet was bought by Investcorp
- 1996 – Vacheron becomes a subsidiary of Richemont, three years prior to Breguet being bought by Swatch
The gist? Barring AP, all Breguet, Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin have changed hands and gone through various moments in time. If that doesn’t make any of them less special, then why the bashing of Breguet?
Jack Forster on Hodinkee has given this some thought in the past. At some point he says that “all three have basically never made anything other than an haut de gamme luxury product”. There is that word product again. He also says that “On Breguet, the company doesn’t have the continuity of production of any of the Big 3”.
With all due respect, I beg to differ. He is right in saying that the production was limited and the quality perhaps variable, but if we are going to nitpick, then don’t call Vacheron Constantin the oldest running company; that can go for Vacheron but Vacheron Constantin only became ‘one’ in 1819.
Of course Jack would know more given he is the watch reviewing industry in himself, but as long as not a single Breguet product wasn’t produced and sold for a straight 12-month period, I wouldn’t say it doesn’t have the continuity.
Also, did Breguet produce quartz watches? I personally haven’t encountered one. Someone on WatchProSite forum reckoned they did. Patek did for sure. Does that make Patek any less of a ‘continuous’ haute horlogerie brand then?
All I am saying is that all the three ‘Holy Trinity’ brands have their place in history, but the lack of appreciation for Breguet seems unjustified.
Perhaps we need to move beyond the idea that only a few brands can be the sole custodians of fine watchmaking; there is evidence otherwise, from lots of new independents like FP Journe; then there’s also the Japanese Credor, German A. Lange & Sohne, ‘French’ Breguet, and historically, England (to name a few).
But there’s a silver lining here: like I said earlier, my Breguet Marine 5817 and lots of other Breguet timepieces especially in the used market can be had for an absolute bargain. Can’t complain about that!
8. The Moment Where The Specifications Are ‘Me’ Ready
Being in possession of a home grown but puny ~16cm wrist, it’s generally hard to buy all the watches I like, simply because they have been designed with Dwayne Johnson in mind.
The Breguet Marine 5817ST however, it seems is custom-built for anyone with slim to large wrists.
It features a 39mm diameter x 11.9mm thick case. 39mm is my sweet spot. The Tudor Black bay Fifty-Eight Navy from 2020 was after all my most worn watch of that year for that reason. I like slightly big watches, but can’t do anything above 50mm lug-to-lug.
And with the exact 49.8mm lug-to-lug spacing, the Breguet Marine 5817 sneaks right in. The 20mm lug interhorn spacing ensures that it doesn’t wear larger and had it a 22mm spacing, I would sadly have had to continue ogling at it from a distance.
But the party trick here is that thanks to the stepped case / bezel design, the actual dial is only 32mm in diameter. It lends to this 49.8mm lug-to-lug spaced timepiece a rather small visual profile.
And despite the inclusion of the steel bracelet, it is not neck torturing heavy, coming in at 151g in weight.
Compare this to the Tudor BB58 with its same 39mm diameter and 20mm lug inter-horn spacing, and you can see how different this wears. The BB58 measures 12.5mm in thickness and 47.2mm lug-to-lug.
Styling wise, I also love that I can dress this up or down; thanks to the screw-down crown and 100m water-resistance, I can wear this should I wish to dabble in light water-related activities, and courtesy the conventional dial styling and guilloche and Roman numerals, it is also an excellent dress watch.
Inside ticks the Breguet Calibre 517GG, taken from Blancpain, and derivative of the F. Piguet caliber 1150. The original FP1150 beats at a lower frequency and provides a higher 100-hour power reserve, and is used primarily in Blancpain watches.
It is a 26.2mm diameter and 3.25mm thick automatic winding movement adjusted in five positions, featuring 35 jewels, beating at the frequency of 4Hz, and offering a very practical 65-hour power reserve that thanks to the twin main-spring barrels also offers an even torque release. It doesn’t feature hacking seconds and some earlier versions didn’t also have a silicon balance spring.
Move on from the specs and it is the finishing that impresses you even more. Like every watch enthusiast, I also appreciate the idea of owning timepieces whose rare sides can be equally applauded. True, the movement finishing is no A. Lange & Sohne, but it is damn near close though.
The solid gold rotor that mimics the flame hand guilloche of the central disc on the dial is of course the leader of the finishings crew, but equally impressive is the execution of the Geneva stripes, the black polished screw-heads, and the mirrored anglage.
Last but not the least I also like that the wave-motif is also etched on the case-back framing the exhibition window.
Added bonus points to the bracelet it comes on; it is a very flexible and highly comfortable steel bracelet that makes the wearability of this watch many notches higher.
That’s All Folks!
To me, wearing the Breguet Marine 5817 became a mark of defiance against the lack of appreciation for lots of brands on the inter-webs, the negativity of Covid-19, and sometimes the toxicity of the cancel culture.
Cancel culture surely helps bring the public attention to issues such as the #MeToo movement. It is an important vehicle of awareness and accountability. At the root of it all, cancel culture is important; accountability should definitely be imposed. Outdated stereotypes should be discarded with. Just who does it, and how do we as a society go about it, is the tricky bit. The problem with the social media is, too many cooks…
In an ideal world, it could have helped set the stage for a balanced debate.
At the heart of it, the real debate isn’t even whether the cancel culture is good or bad; it’s a necessary evil to keep the ‘bad’ from going out of line.
I suppose the real dilemma is, who gets to draw the line? And where? And what repercussions could it have on luxury brands.
Forbes did a feature in 2020 about the cancel culture. “Why Brands Need To Pay Attention To Cancel Culture,” was the message at the core. According to the writer, and based on a study “by Edelman, 64% of consumers around the world will buy or boycott a brand solely because of its position on a social or political issue”.
Looking at the luxury industry, there was the instance of the #DGLovesChina incident.
The brand was cancelled to a certain extent, though there are layers to be peeled, with the adverts and the designer’s comments — there was alleged racism and Stefano Gabbana’s Instagram account was allegedly hacked — to be considered. This was in 2018. First, the Inside Retail was found reporting on “Dolce & Gabbana China crisis expanding globally”. Then, as recent as June last year, the backlash could be still felt. CNN talked about how “Three years after ad controversy, D&G is still struggling to win back China”.
It’s not simply just about the cancel culture though; the power of the internet and the social media is a very strong force, that industries set in centuries old traditions should perhaps figure out how to embrace better.
And bringing it home to the watch industry, there was an advert or a poster by IWC in early 2000s that in modern age is being considered overtly sexist.
Two instances of accountability — not really cancel culture — from the pandemic era regarding watches could be the Hodinkee Travel Clock instance and the MING x Massena LAB issue.
The message being sent out is that if a brand is not ‘in trouble’ with the ‘woke’ generation, then it is not ‘cancelled’. Ergo, they should continue doing what it is they are doing without changing. Or evolving.
The discontent amongst the watch community over the unavailability of certain watch models, the burgeoning prices of some watches, and the extremely lengthy wait-lists in our opinion could eventually earn the brands a negative reputation. Which, based on the social atmosphere we live in, can be dangerous.
‘Hate the sin, not the sinner’ becomes more and more relevant.
And in all of this, like I said earlier on, the true legacy of any historic brand can be under fire. And as a watch lover (and not a serial investor or flipper), I really hope that’s not the case.
As for brands like Breguet that have all the rich history in the world but still have a lack of awareness or marketing, well, they do have the Herculean task of not only getting the right message across but also ensuring not to err.
I obviously find the Breguet Marine 5817 to be one of the best watches ever made, and Breguet to be extremely underrated.
Of course as watch collectors we tend to over do it, and by definition, end up with multiple pieces. I am lucky enough to own a product from both Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet, and also from Rolex.
I keep on mentioning the phrase products because from a business to consumer point-of-view, that’s what they essentially are: whether be it a product to buy to flip, a product to wear, a product to accessorise, a product to convert into a heirloom and pass on from generation to generation, a product with a high sentiment value or a high investment value, or a product to lust after like I did with my Breguet.
For me, the Breguet Marine 5817 as a product has managed to create moments in time that made this son-of-a-bi&%h 2021 a bit more breathable.
So no matter how much my Breguet can cost at retail or how little in the secondary market, no matter how bad Covid’s latest version was, no matter if the general watch public needs to be more aware of the brand’s achievements, and no matter how many books / artists / celebs / companies / products got the ‘cancel’ treatment, the above feeling of being able to ‘breathe’ last year thanks to my Breguet Marine 5817 is in itself worth its weight in gold.
For more information about Breguet watches in general, please head to their website here. All images unless otherwise specified are ©Watch Ya Gonna Do About It.