In another article I showed how the typography of numerals on a watch dial helps to build up the identity of a brand. In addition to the shape of the numerals, two other design choices have to be made: Arabic or Roman numerals… or no numerals at all (either hour markers or nothing at all).
This article is concerned with Roman numerals. You might think that Roman numerals are always chosen to show classicism, but you would be wrong! They are very graphic: they are never simply sticks with different extremities.
They are easy to read even upside down and don’t have to have their orientation changed around the dial (unlike Arabic numerals). Note that the number 4 is always depicted with four batons rather than “IV” to avoid any confusion with the 6 (VI).
Let’s see how three watch brands personalise their Roman numerals.
Breguet – la pearl of precision
Fine, slender and spaced out, the Roman numerals used by Breguet Watches Uk Replica are those of a measuring instrument from history. The individual characters of a number – I, V, X – are linked by their serifs so that each numeral forms a compact unit. As a small black silhouette it echoes the sublime engine-turned decoration on the dial: the Breguet numeral is the epitome of finesse and precision, a small jewel of classicism with perfect proportions. Note the human touch of the lettering whose slightly irregular serifs and rounded tips makes you think of handcraftsmanship. The large space between each numeral recalls the precision of measuring instruments, since the hand can only point to it for a very short period of time.
Cartier – ostentatious chic
For the brand dominated by the panther, the notion “shape your time” is not just a slogan. The brand’s iconic Tank watch has severely inclined Roman numerals, like the rays of a sun around the axis of the hands, underscoring the watch’s characteristically rectangular shape. The ostentatious numerals of Cartier are instantly recognisable thanks to the strong contrast between the deep black of the thick strokes and the slender thin strokes. This is the geometry of Art Deco, offering a clear reading of the Roman numerals.
The open-worked versions of the Rotonde are also a great example of this graphical reinterpretation of the Roman numerals: they become architectural elements like the metal profiles of a tiny typographic skylight that encloses the movement.
Among the best parts of the Breguet Type XXI is that the motion – which is a bit more than your regular triple enroll chronograph. What’s also extremely important to mention is that, unlike most (or all I can remember) Breguet Type XXI watches, the motion – with its appealing machine-polished gold rotor – is observable via a sapphire crystal exhibition caseback window onto the rear of the watch. Within the watch is your exact well-regarded in-house Breguet grade 584Q/2. This is the most recent version of the caliber 584Q, which now contains an “inverted in-line Swiss lever” silicon escapement in the 584Q/2, compared to the metal straight-line lever escapement in the 584Q. This, naturally, is not the very first Breguet watch to utilize silicon components – and it is good to see the brand continue to embrace this technology, as it helps the moves perform better over time.The caliber 584Q/2 operates at 4Hz (28,800bph) with a power reserve of 48 hours. The automatic movement offers the time, date, and flyback chronograph, along with a synchronized 24-hour hand that operates as an AM/PM index. The chronograph is also a central minutes and central seconds chronograph, so there are just two centrally-mounted chronograph hands to quantify both of these sections of time. The subdials on the face have been used for the running seconds of the moment, chronograph hour indicator, along with the synchronized 24-hour hand (which among other things makes setting the time easier). The movement in function and performance is actually fine, and also a highlight for owning this or other Breguet Type XXI watches.
Roger Dubuis – jazzy cadence
Roger Dubuis breaks new ground in the abstraction of the Roman numeral. Sans serif, the elements I, V and X look more like simple hour markers. But that isn’t all: thicker towards the outside of the dial than the inside, the numeral is deliberately deformed, like a reflection in an ice palace, so that it better fits on the circular dial. The shape is particularly drawn out on the ladies’ models, distracting you from reading them and forcing you to focus on their graphical rhythm and the jerky nature of time. Furthermore, the black and white versions of the Excalibur evoke, in a jazzy way, the keys of a piano.
In watchmaking as in all fields, typography is essential. The right typographical choice can solve problems of legibility, build on the values that strengthen the positioning of a brand and give it its unique touch.
Noémie Oulevay is co-founder of the graphic design agency Contreforme.
Our David Bredan recently visited Breguet’s fabrication in Switzerland and reports about the impressive area full of “turning engines” which produces these dials. They are operated by hand and need delicate finesse and decades of training to get the effect right. You may see a blend of patterns and techniques on the dial of the Breguet Watches Sydney Replica Heritage 5410, such as a lovely wave-style pattern on the periphery of the most important round dial to help fill out the tonneau-shaped dial window.Like I mentioned, I am sure not everybody will like this dial design, but I personally think it’s beautiful. Breguet uses slightly larger than expected blued-steel pomme-style hands which look great. Additionally, this is one of the rare cases where luminant is used on the hands in a non-sports watch from the brand new. Combining some Art Deco themes with the identifying Breguet new DNA, the Breguet Heritage 5410 instance and dial is something uncommon and cool in the brand.A trade-off of this curved caseback appears to be the omission of a exhibition display caseback, that is a small shame. Breguet completes their watches and moves so well it may be considered unsatisfactory to not see the movement. The balance spring is generated from silicon, typical of many contemporary Breguet calibers – which leads to overall performance and precision over time.Attached to the Heritage 5410 is a black or brown alligator strap fitted into a matching gold deployant clasp. There is a slightly sporty yet old-world regality into a piece like this Breguet that I believe ought to help it appeal to the ideal type of buyer capable to both afford its price, and also to regularly pull it off within the lifestyle. Price for the Breguet Heritage 5410 benchmark 5410BR/12/9VV at 18k rose gold is $27,700 while the reference 5410BB/12/9VV in 18k white gold is $28,700.