The boss of modern retro. New Breitling Chronomat resurrects the legacy and re-affirms the brand’s meteoric rise

The boss of modern retro. New Breitling Chronomat resurrects the legacy and re-affirms the brand’s meteoric rise 

When it rains, it pours. After a dulling couple of weeks with pretty much no new watch releases, we are now surrounded by news of new releases from Breitling. Like an excited puppy that’s yapping away in all its glory at the sight of a treat, we welcome the latest release: new Breitling Chronomat collection.

Two-tone Chronomat B01 42 with a blue dial and tone-on-tone chronograph counters highlighted by an 18 k red gold bezel, crown and pushers | Courtesy Copyright © Breitling

The Breitling Chronomat is launching alongside the hot Superocean Heritage ’57 Capsule collection reviewed here and the new Navitimer for ladies.

Anyone who is a child of 60s/70s and has been a fan of watches growing up, would surely remember the almost iconic Breitling Chronomat from the first half of the 80s. Now resurrected — let’s ignore the half-baked revival from a couple of years ago — in a modern day avatar, the new Chronomat brings to fond memory the watches from 1980s while showboating a design aesthetic from today.

Breitling Chronomat
23_Breitling Catalog from 1987 showing the Chronomat | Courtesy Copyright © Breitling

The Context 

Breitling’s meteoric rise in the last year or so can be hugely credited to Georges Kern. From introducing the “Squad on a mission” to Capsule Collections, Limited editions and Re-Editions from Breitling’s archives to being the boss of Instagram announcements, we have experienced an “unleashed” Mr Kern ever since his departure from Richemont.

When we were last reviewing a new Breitling release, the Top Time Limited Edition ‘Zorro’, we were in awe of what the brand had done. Presented in a new, updated avatar, it sets hearts ablaze with its drugged-up ultra-retro meets super-sexy contemporary vibe.

The new Breitling Chronomat B01 is no different. It brings yesteryear into the present.

Breitling Chronomat
22_Breitling Chronomat from 1984 | Courtesy Copyright © Breitling

The Chronomat Variations

The collection is released in numerous variations. 

Version 1A

Chronomat B01 42 in a stainless-steel case with a choice of silver, copper, or blue dial with black contrasting chronograph counters. 

References: AB0134101G1A1/AB0134101K1A1/AB0134101C1A1

Version 1B

Chronomat B01 42 in a stainless-steel case with a black dial with silver contrasting chronograph counters.

Reference: AB0134101B1A1 

Version 2

Chronomat Bentley celebrating Breitling’s partnership with the great British luxury car brand has a stainless-steel case with a green dial and black contrasting chronograph counters. 

Reference: AB01343A1L1A1 

Version 3

Breitling’s 1983 Frecce Tricolori inspired the Chronomats introduced a year later to celebrate the brand’s centenary. The new Chronomat Frecce Tricolori Limited Edition has a blue dial featuring tone-on-tone sub-dials and the Frecce Tricolori logo on the dial, positioned where the Breitling logo is normally placed. This version has been inspired by the Frecce Tricolori watch, which had been developed and launched in 1983 in collaboration with the famed Italian aerial squadron of the same name.

Reference: AB01344A1C1A1

Version 4

Chronomat B01 42 fitted with an 18k red gold crown and pushers and a bezel with 18k red gold rider tabs, numerals, and indexes. It has a silver dial with silver tone-on-tone sub-dials and a stainless-steel case.

Reference: IB0134101G1A1 

Version 5

Chronomat B01 42 featuring either an elegant blue dial with tone-on-tone chronograph counters or an anthracite dial with black contrasting chronograph counters. It is highlighted by an 18k red gold ratcheted unidirectional rotating bezel and an 18k red gold crown and pushers. 

Reference: UB0134101C1U1 (Blue) or UB0134101B1U1 (Anthracite) 

Version 6

Chronomat B01 42 with a striking 18k red gold case presented on a black rubber strap with an 18k red gold folding clasp. It has an anthracite dial with black contrasting chronograph counters. 

Reference: RB0134101B1S1 

Breitling Chronomat
Courtesy Copyright © Breitling

The Specifications 

The basic specs are the same for every version barring the material or dial colour. Here we are looking at our favourite of the lot, the reference AB0134101B1A1 (or the version 1B above) which has a remarkable reverse panda dial, silver counters on a black dial base. 

The heart used — Breitling Manufacture Caliber 01 — is a COSC-certified, self-winding movement featuring a bidirectionally acting ball-bearing rotor and a column-wheel chronograph. The 30.mmx7.2mm movement features 346 components, beats at the frequency of 4Hz (28’800 A/h) and offers an impressive 70-hour power reserve.

It is cased inside a 42mm diameter and 15.10mm thick stainless steel case that offers an excellent 200m (20 ATM) water resistance. The watch also features a unidirectional ratcheted bezel with rider tabs with numerals and indexes.

The watch face shows the traditional functions of central hours & minutes, a chronograph seconds hand, date at 6’o clock, and 1/4th second, 30-minute and 12-hour counters.

Breitling Chronomat
Dial of the Chronomat B01 42 with a silver dial, an 18 k red gold crown and pushers and a bezel with 18 k red gold rider tabs | Courtesy Copyright © Breitling

The Dial

The beautiful black dial with contrasting silver sub-dials is a pleasure to look at. The silver sub-dials have further concentric circles in the middle that bring about a certain sense of design quirkiness to the watch face.

The red seconds hand is a welcome addition and striking from a distance.

The colour matches the red peripheral inner tachymeter ring and ties in the watch as well as a whole. The Super-LumiNova® luminescent indexes and hands further aide in the watch’s legibility. 

Breitling Chronomat
Chronomat B01 42 with a silver dial and black contrasting chronograph counters | Courtesy Copyright © Breitling

Watch Ya Gonna Do About It

Breitling Chronomat B01 takes its design inspiration from the brand’s original models from 1984 when the style was first introduced. Thick watches for the time, they were a bold contrast to the prevailing popularity of the extra-thin quartz time-pieces.

“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, put us back in touch with our heritage.” 

Breitling CEO Georges Kern
Breitling Chronomat
Two-tone Chronomat B01 42 with a blue dial and tone-on-tone chronograph counters highlighted by an 18 k red gold bezel, crown and pushers | Courtesy Copyright © Breitling

Intended to be an all-purpose sports watch, the watch is most visually striking due to its eye-catching Rouleaux bracelet and the signature rotating bezel with rider tabs. Updated for the modern man and woman, the new watches are fairly modified yet retain the charm of the original.

Breitling Chronomat
Detailed view of the new Chronomat’s Rouleaux bracelet | Courtesy Copyright © Breitling

The signature rotating bezel still exists that not only protects the crystal but makes the manipulation of the bezel easier. The rider tabs at 3’o clock and 9’o clock, true to the original, are interchangeable, so the wearer can use them either for a “count up” or “count down” function. 

Like most of Breitling’s recent releases, the Chronomat is filled to brim with that dose of retro charm Mr Kern has managed to induce in the veins of the brand.

For more information on this watch and other Breitling watches, head to their website here.