One of the most useful mechanical complications I saw at Baselworld 2011 was the time switching mechanism on the new Breguet Classique 5717 Hora Mundi watch. Aside from having a very clever feature for travelers, the Hora Mundi mixes contemporary looks with Breguet classicism. That sounds like a bit of a irony, but they seemed to pull it off.
The watch is large for Breguet Classique pieces at 44mm wide and over 13mm thick. The Classique style case looks nice in the size, but I think the design may have benefited from curved lugs in these dimensions. Of course the coined edge is always nice. The case is available in either 18k red gold or 950 platinum. There are also two dial versions. See the map on this dial? It is of Asia and the surrounding area. The two other dials have either North America or Europe. The ocean is done with a sweetly textured lapis lazuli, and the polished land region is cut with very high precision. Around the dial is a typical Breguet Roman numeral hour indicator ring, with two large pomme blued-steel style hands.
Complications on the watch include the time, date, moon phase indicator, and the dual time mechanism. The date uses one of those expanded date windows that are good for dial balance, but bad for legibility. So Breguet did something to improve on the date window (that is located under 12 o'clock). There is circle-shaped hand in the open window that goes over the correct date. This should help things a lot, see what I mean?
The moon phase complication is self-explanatory, but the dual time function requires a bit of explanation. When it is set up properly, it is very hands. What you do is press the pusher at 8 o'clock and the time switches instantly between two time zones. The reference city for that time zone is displayed in the open area over 6 o'clock. The watch doesn't just change the time, but also keeps track of AM/PM and changes the date when appropriate - pretty nifty right?
Essentially what the watch is doing is keeping track of two times as one. There is a switch in the movement that changes which one is being displayed. Adjusting the times isn't too hard, and the ability to juxtapose a local and reference time on the fly is really handy. It cleans up the dial and makes the Hora Muni a travel watch when you want it to be, and a daily wearer when you don't. I don't know too many watches that can claim that.
Inside the ref. 5717 Hora Mundi is the brand new Breguet caliber 77F0 automatic movement. It has a silicon hairspring and escapement, and is based on the Breguet caliber 777. The 77F0 has about 55 hours of power reserve. I like how the automatic movement has guilloche machine engraving on it for decoration. The piece is overall very pretty, and comes in a total of six versions. With the useful features, attractive design, and Breuget pedigree the ref 5717 Hora Mundi is one of best new Breguet watches for 2011 - and will be a desired piece by collectors and newbies to the brand for a few years to come.