BREVA GENEVE, the young Swiss watch brand founded by Vincent Dupontreué, made its stunning debut last year by unveiling Génie 01, world’s first mechanical wristwatch with time, altimeter & barometer. Now the promising young brand from Geneva introduces Breva Génie 02 Terre, a new model, which combines the stunning sophistication of a beautifully crafted mechanical timepiece with the practicality of a fully functional, high-performance mechanical altimeter.
Génie 02 Terre is 100% Swiss-made, from inception to realization. The superbly finished proprietary movement, much of which can be fully appreciated through the open dial and display back, was developed exclusively for Breva by award-winning movement constructor Jean-François Mojon (Chronode).
The dial side is dominated by a sub-dial at 8 o’clock displaying hours and minutes, and the precision altimeter sub-dial at 2 o’clock displaying meters (or feet). Arcing around the top of the dial is the large-scale altitude indicator, which displays up to 5,000 meters (or 16,400 feet), with small seconds below. At 4 o’clock, an indicator shows when the air valve is open or closed (it must be open to indicate the altitude), below which is the 65-hour power reserve indicator.
At the bottom of the dial, the top of one of the two aneroid capsules measuring air pressure (from which the altitude is derived) is visible, with a high-precision arm multiplying by 200 times the expansion and contraction of the capsules and relaying the air pressure to the two altitude indications.
Three chevron-engraved crowns wind, set, adjust and operate the functions of Génie 02:
- a. 9 o’clock: Two-position crown both winds the movement and sets the time.
- b. 2 o’clock: A screw down rotates both the altitude’s precision-scale and large-scale to adjust for variations in air pressure, which affect altitude readings.
- c. 4 o’clock: Screw down crown either seals air out of the movement or allows it in (for altitude function). Longevity and reliability of the timepiece are maximized by means of an osmotic Teflon membrane that filters any moisture and humidity from any air before it enters the movement. Just above the crown, a white indicator on the dial marked ‘SEALED’ warns when valve is unlocked.
Turning the Génie 02 over, the complexity of beautifully finished 415-component movement can be more fully appreciated. The movement is framed by the names of prestigious ski resorts − Aspen, Vail, Las Lenas, Gstaad, St Moritz, Zermatt, Courchevel, Cortina, Kitzbuhel, and Lech − along with their altitudes, engraved around the perimeter of the caseback. When winding the movement you can see the rotation of the cap of the mainspring barrel.
The name ‘Breva’ is inspired by ‘La Breva’, a warm southern wind that contributes to the agreeably mild microclimate around Lake Como in northern Italy. Like its namesake, Breva blows a refreshing breeze through the often-stuffy world of Swiss haute horlogerie by creating timepieces that monitor your environment.
Génie 02 is a limited edition of 55 pieces in titanium G5 and is available with either meter or feet calibrations.
High performance mechanical altimeter
Paradoxically, an altimeter doesn’t really measure altitude at all: it measures air pressure. In 1928, German inventor Paul Kollsman revolutionized the aviation world when he invented the world’s first accurate barometric altimeter.
An air pressure altimeter is in fact a barometer developed specifically to display altitude rather than barometric pressure. Pressure in the earth’s atmosphere is a result of the weight of the air pulled down by gravity. The higher the altitude, the less atmosphere above so less pressure exerted.
Aneroid capsules: The aneroid capsules in the Génie 02 were especially developed to Breva’s specifications to optimize their precision and use in a wristwatch. The capsules are made from a special non-magnetic memory-metal (Breva patented invention), which is lighter and stronger than aluminum and has twice the ductility of steel. The capsules are exposed for long durations to high temperature and pure oxygen to maximize thermal conductivity and oxidation resistance.
Génie 02’saneroid capsules were developed specifically for registering air pressure for altitude readings rather than barometric pressure, and are different to those used on the Génie 01.
A lever, clearly visible on top of the aneroid capsules, transmits the combined height of the capsules through a complex system of gears and racks to the two − precision and large-scale − altimeter indications. The gearing for these two displays has been carefully calculated to optimize both precision and legibility.
Adjusting for changes in air pressure
Atmospheric pressure can change with the weather and this can affect altitude readings. When bad weather approaches, air pressure can fall causing the altimeter to confuse this decrease in pressure with an increase in altitude.
In order to compensate for weather or temperature induced barometric pressure variations, the altimeter should be calibrated by using a known altitude or a known pressure value. A known altitude can typically be taken from a specific landmark on a topographic map. But if a known altitude is not available, a known pressure value will suffice. Barometric pressure is measured several times per day and can usually be obtained from aviation weather reports.
Using the altitude to navigate in the mountains
An altimeter used in conjunction with a topographic map can help verify location and aid navigation. A barometric altimeter as found in the Génie 02 is often more reliable and more accurate than a GPS receiver for measuring altitude. GPS altimeters may have difficulty in finding a signal, e.g. in a deep canyon or beside a steep cliff, and may give inaccurate measurements if available satellites are near the horizon.
Hours, minutes, small seconds, large-scale altitude indicator, precision-scale altitude indicator, power reserve indicator, air pressure valve, equalizer seal indicator, altitude scale adjuster
Case, dials and strap
Case material: titanium G5, with altitude calibrated in either meters or feet.
Dimensions: 44.7 mm x 15.6 mm
Number of components: 69
Crowns: winding setting crown at 9 o’clock, altitude adjuster at 2 o’clock, air valve at 4 o’clock
Crystals: sapphire crystal and display back treated with anti-reflective coating on both sides.
Dials: Grained and galvanically-treated Nickel silver, indexes and numbers in three-dimensional Super-LumiNova
Altitude scales: available in metric (meters) or imperial (feet) measurements
Water resistance: 30m
Air valve with Teflon moisture-resisting osmosis membrane
Strap and buckle: natural rubber strap with titanium tang buckle.
Proprietary movement developed exclusively for Breva by Jean-François Mojon/Chronode
Number of components: 415
Number of jewels: 45
Balance frequency: 3 Hz
Dual aneroid capsules specifically developed to derive altitude from air pressure
Power reserve: 65 hours