Unveiled by webcast earlier this month, Breitling’s Chronomat collection has been completely overhauled for 2020.
Consisting of ten new references, the Chronomat B01 Chronograph 42 comes in a newly styled 42 mm x 15.10 mm case, forgoes the highly polished look of the past for a mixture of alternating satin-brushed and mirror-polished surfaces including beveled and polished flanks, and is available in stainless steel, solid gold, or a combination of stainless steel and gold.
The Chronomat first came out in 1984 — when quartz watches were still extremely popular and mechanical powered timepieces were seeing a resurgence. Fast forward to today, mechanical watches are more popular than ever and Breitling’s modern Chronomat — while not a re-issue — borrows styling cues from the 1980s models including the robust and beautifully executed Rouleaux bracelet, which comes with a butterfly clasp and is standard on all variants at launch.
Through the years one signature design element of the Chronomat was its ridged onion-shaped crown and pushers. The new Chronomat has a newly reshaped version onion-style crown with its recognizable corrugated surface, however, the each of the chronograph pushers has been changed completely and now have smooth polished surfaces with a tapered flat-cone shape.
The rotating bezel with rider tabs, which are both visually functional and provide an enhanced grip of the bezel when rotating it, has stayed through all the years. Although, in a unique throwback design decision, the rider tabs can now be changed (by a watchmaker) for different situations. For instance, the tabs at 3 and 9 o’clock are interchangeable so the wearer can use the bezel for a count up (shown) or count down when coupled with the central minute or chronograph seconds hand.
While this modern watch dates back to 1984, according to Breitling, the name Chronomat was first used for a limited number of the 1940s Breitlings watches, and, in those early days, the word was a portmanteau of “chronograph for mathematics.”
Breitling CEO Georges Kern says “The 1984 Chronomat occupies a very important place in our modern history. 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. The message resonated and the brand prospered. The Chronomat collection is a fitting tribute to the amazing watch that, more than any other, puts us back in touch with our heritage.”
All models except the tone-on-tone blue dial of the Frecce Tricolori Limited Edition watch — which was inspired by a 1983 watch developed and launched in 1983 in collaboration with the famed Italian aerial squadron of the same name — have two-tone dials with a red chronograph seconds hand.
The indices, hands, and the dot at 12 o’clock on the bezel on every Chronomat are luminescent. The watch functions include hours, minutes, small seconds, and chronograph with 1/4th of a second accuracy and 12-hour and 30-minute and 60-second counters. Breitling’s vertical clutch and column wheel actuated 346-component COSC-certified chronometer automatic chronograph movement beats at 4Hz underneath the dial. The in-house caliber B01 movement has 70-hours of power reserve is used in all ten references, and has been powering the majority of the upper-end of Breitling chronograph references for the last decade-plus.
A screwed sapphire caseback offers a view of the movement. The crown is screwed-down and protected by two gaskets. The dial is protected by a convex sapphire crystal. Water-resistance is rated down to 200 meters.
The Breitling Chronomat Chronograph B01 42 collection retail price starts at $8,100 in stainless steel and goes up to $20,200 for the 18K solid gold variants.