Breitling has been on fire the past few years, with new ownership and a new management team putting the brand firmly on the radar of collectors and enthusiasts alike. Last week we told you about the new Premier Heritage collection. Now, it’s time to meet the new Super Chronomat, Breitling’s boldest addition to the Chronomat collection yet. Unveiled today, it offers beefed-up dimensions and protective detailing, whilst still retaining the strong focus on style that made the original a favourite of fighter pilots and movie stars alike.
“This watch is tough enough for every pursuit, but it won’t get in the way of your sense of style.” – Breitling CEO, Georges Kern.
This latest release follows hot on the heels of an overhaul of the Chronomat collection last year, which saw a return to the signature design codes of the original, updated with some modern twists. Including the comeback of the “Rouleaux” bracelet with improved execution. Now the Super Chronomat offers a larger and bolder version of the iconic Breitling watch. With two colour schemes presented in stainless steel and a third in 18k red gold. All equipped with a ceramic bezel insert for the first time. In addition, Breitling has also debuted a Super Chronomat with semi-perpetual calendar complication, in stainless steel, with ceramic bezel insert and 18k red gold elements.
1984 – Making the mechanical chronograph “cool” again
The original Chronomat holds a very important place in Breitling’s modern history. Released in the aftermath of the quartz-dominated 1970s, it was an audacious move to say the least. But Ernest Schneider, at the helm of Breitling since 1979, was convinced that the 100-year old company needed to focus on doing what it did best. More than that, he wanted to launch a new watch that would revolutionise the industry and win back the hearts and minds of watch lovers everywhere.
“It was the watch that boldly proclaimed Breitling was staying absolutely true to its roots. When much of the industry focused their efforts and energies on quartz watches, the Chronomat reminded the world that Breitling had essentially invented the modern mechanical chronograph.” – Georges Kern.
A year earlier, Breitling had developed a completely new chronograph for professional use by Italy’s Frecce Tricolori Jet team. Being for Italian gentlemen, the watch needed to be elegant enough to wear with a suit when the pilots were off-duty, but still durable enough to withstand repeated use in a jet cockpit. The elite aerobatics team also wanted an analog display, which meant it had to be a mechanical watch. (No quartz chronograph movement of this type was yet available on the market.) As a pilot himself, Schneider intuitively understood the requirements. In 1983 he presented the ultra-functional, original and elegant chronograph “Frecce Tricolori”. Keenly aware that this new chronograph perfectly embodied the brand’s entire philosophy and mission, Schneider made the decision to use it as the foundation to develop an exciting new collection for Breitling.
Retaining the design elements of the professional chronograph, Breitling released the updated Chronomat in 1984 to celebrate the brand’s centenary. The name “Chronomat” – combining “chronograph” and “mathematique” – was already familiar to Breitling fans as the precursor model to the Navitimer released in the 1940s. However, the newChronomat stood for “chronograph” and “automatic”, emphasising its self-winding calibre. The substantial mechanical chronograph flew in the face of the slim, time-only trend. But it proved an almost instantaneous global success, helping reignite the desire for mechanical watches, and mechanical chronographs in particular. (On which Breitling had built its reputation.)
The Chronomat’s iconic “rider tabs” and “Rouleaux” bracelet
During the conception phase of the “Frecce Tricolori”, Schneider met with the Italian Jet team several times. He learned of an issue occurring when pilots went to open the aircraft’s canopy after landing. Inevitably, their watches would knock hard against the metal frame as they extended their arms. Sometimes resulting in broken watch crystals. To combat this, Breitling came up with the idea of slightly recessing the crystal and protecting it with four “rider tabs”. Marking every quarter, they offered additional timekeeping functionality as well. With the ability to invert the 15 and 45 tabs, both count-up (suitable for flight) or count-down timings (for regatta) were possible. This distinctive design would become the iconic signature of the Chronomat.
Another aspect that made the Chronomat the ultimate sport-chic watch of the 1980s and early 1990s was its bracelet. Also adopted from the “Frecce Tricolori”, the “Rouleaux” bracelet differentiated the Chronomat from any other watch on the market. Designed to be comfortable for a pilot’s wrist, the Rouleaux (or “roller”) bracelet was made up of long, cylindrical links with rounded tips. The 2020 rework of the Chronomat collection reintroduced this innovative retro bracelet, complete with brushed finishing, polished interlinks and a two-pusher butterfly clasp. The Super Chronomat goes a step further – offering the option of a Rouleaux-inspired rubber strap.
Super Chronomat B01 44
At 44 mm (and 14.45 mm thickness), the Super Chronomat B01 44 makes a statement. A key new feature is the coloured ceramic bezel insert – a first on a Chronomat. True to the 1980s original, the rider tabs protect the sapphire crystal, and the position of the 15 and 45 tabs can be swapped for count-downs as well as count-ups. Extra protection is also provided around the crown and pushers. In addition to the improved steel Rouleaux bracelet, wearers also have the choice of a rubber version inspired by the original metal one. State-of-the-art injection moulding techniques are employed to create three distinct textures: matte, slick, and a woven-look. Together they give the strap remarkable depth.
In stainless steel, the Super Chronomat B01 44 comes in blue or black dial-and-bezel combinations. Both feature contrasting silver chronograph counters with circular guilloché. Luminescent indexes and hands are offset by a red chronograph hand. The watch can be paired with a stainless steel Rouleaux bracelet with butterfly clasp, or a colour-matching Rouleaux-inspired rubber strap with folding clasp. As denoted in the name, inside is the COSC-certified Breitling Manufacture Calibre 01. Visible through a sapphire case back, this self-winding mechanical movement provides 70 hours of power reserve. The case of the new Super Chronomat is rated water-resistant up to 200 m.
Super Chronomat B01 44 – in gold
The Super Chronomat B01 44 also comes in a full 18k red gold version, paired with a rich brown dial-and-bezel combination. It’s worn on a Rouleaux bracelet in matching 18 k red gold and unashamedly makes its presence known on the wrist. There’s also the option of a Rouleaux-inspired rubber strap executed in the same rich brown for a sportier look that may be more conducive to daily wear. Aside from the differences in colour scheme and metal, all other specifications remain the same as the steel version above.
Super Chronomat 44 Four-Year Calendar
Breitling has also unveiled a special variation of its new Super Chronomat, in the form of the Super Chronomat 44 Four-Year Calendar. Presented in the same 44mm case, this stunning model features day, date, month and moon phase displays. Its semi-perpetual calendar mechanism only needs to be adjusted once every leap year. Or every 1,461 days. The timepiece is powered by the Breitling Calibre 19, a COSC-certified chronograph movement incorporating the semi-perpetual calendar. Encased in stainless steel, the dial is black with tone-on-tone chronograph counters, all of which is framed by a black ceramic insert in a stainless steel bezel. It is available on a stainless steel Rouleaux bracelet with butterfly clasp and is rated water resistant up to 100 m.
Selected models from the new Breitling Super Chronomat collection is available now for immediate purchase from Watches of Switzerland Australia. View the full Breitling range online or in-store today and find the perfect option for you.