Breitling, renowned for its chronographs, holds a special place in the hearts of many Australians, gaining a reputation as makers of watches that are tough, rugged and ready for adventure. Over the years, the Chronomat has played that part, and with the entrance of Georges Kern, the model saw a return to retro sports elegance in the Chronomat B01 42 and its rouleaux bracelet.
In 2021, an edgier version of the Chronomat emerges in the form of the Super Chronomat collection that is larger than the one that precedes it – including a model that incorporates its famed B01 Manufacture chronograph movement, as well as a curious Four-Year Calendar model.
The modern Breitling Chronomat has its design origins in 1983, when the Italian PAN Frecce Tricolori (Italy’s National Aerobatic Team of the Aeronautica Militare) collaborated with the brand for a modern chronograph that could withstand the rigours of the cockpit. As a pilot himself, then-CEO Ernest Schneider knew of the frequency of broken watches after a flight. As such, the brand came up with the Chronomat’s distinctive “Rider Tabs” that protected the crystal from any knocks, as well as serving as a countdown or a count-up bezel – this could be achieved by swapping the 15 and 45 minute tabs simply by unscrewing them from the bezel. The design of this chronograph would then go on to serve as the basis for the new Chronomat model that was unveiled on the brand’s 100th anniversary, in 1984.
The new Breitling Super Chronomat collection has been upsized to 44mm, compared to 42mm of the refreshed Chronomat released in 2020. Common to all of the new Super Chronomat watches is the ceramic bezel that is a first for the Chronomat line. The signature Rider Tabs are also interchangeable like its historical counterparts at 15 and 45 minutes to enable either a countdown or a count up bezel, and its numerals are coated in SuperLuminova for night time legibility.
Breitling Super Chronomat B01 44
The Super Chronomat B01 44 is the chronograph version of the watch, and is available in stainless steel cases with blue or black dial and bezel combinations, or a luxurious and hefty 18k red gold version with a brown dial and bezel combination. All have silver contrasting chronograph counters, giving a ‘reverse panda’ look. The signature Rouleaux bracelet is available for both the steel and red gold versions, as well as an injection moulded rubber strap inspired by the emblematic bracelet, emulating the textures of a woven material with matte and slick finishes. The case is water resistant to 20 bar, with a screw locked crown.
Particular to the black dial model is a version of the Rouleaux bracelet with the UTC module embedded into it. A feature of Breitling watches in the mid 80’s and early 90’s, and through the 00’s and 10’s with the Co-Pilot module, the UTC module of this latest release incorporates a quartz movement into the bracelet that can keep track of another time zone. Like the case of the Super Chronomat B01 44, the UTC module is also water resistant to 20 bar.
This model is powered by the Breitling Manufacture B01 movement that has been a mainstay of the higher-end Breitling chronograph models like the Navitimer, Aviator 8 and the Premier collections. The movement is column wheel controlled, with a vertical clutch, and is COSC certified – being Breitling’s first in-house movement first unveiled in 2009, it was an impressive feat for the brand’s first movement to be a chronograph, not to mention incorporating all of the niceties of modern mechanical chronographs.
Breitling Super Chronomat 44 Four-Year Calendar
The Super Chronomat 44 Four-Year Calendar introduces complications to the collection, with a chronograph and calendar indications such as date, month and day incorporated into the chronograph subdials, and a moon phase given its own space on the dial at 3 o’clock. The watch is available in stainless steel with a black dial featuring tone-on-tone subdials, black ceramic bezel with 18k red gold bezel elements and an all-steel Rouleaux bracelet. Alternatively, a two-toned version in stainless steel and red gold is available with a blue dial featuring tone-on-tone subdials, blue ceramic bezel inlaid into a red gold bezel, and a steel and red gold Rouleaux bracelet. Injection moulded rubber options are available for both variations as well.
Powering the Super Chronomat 44 Four-Year Calendar is the Breitling Calibre 19 – a COSC certified chronograph movement that incorporates what Breitling terms a “semi-perpetual” calendar. In the past, Breitling watches housing this movement would often incorporate “1461” into their names, referencing the only time that this requires adjustment is once every leap year, or once every 1461 days. This movement is a curiously engineered version of the ETA 2892 that adds significant complexity and functionality to the movement.
Breitling has doubled-down on the 80s and 90s aesthetic and made it larger for those looking for a watch to make a statement. The connection to the era of VHS and Walkmans is further reinforced through the reintroduction of the UTC module for the Super Chronomat B01 44, proving that what is old is new again. Through this new collection, however, Breitling continues its reputation for tough and rugged watches, as well as reinforcing its modern manufacturing prowess through the incorporation of the Four-Year Calendar as well as its virtually bulletproof B01 manufacture movement – hats off to Breitling for being able to dip its feet in the past and yet remain resolutely modern.