Breilting’s Chronomat model has been around since 1984, holding a significant place in the brand’s history ever since its release. The Chronomat was released at a time when quartz watches were the popular choice for wrist wear. In 1984, Breitling took an impressive risk, by designing and releasing a mechanical timepiece into a much quartz driven world. The Chronomat upon its release proved to be a winner and became an icon that to this day enthusiasts still love.
The original Breitling Chronomat was inspired by the Frecce Tricolori watch, which was created in 1983 alongside the famous aerobatic demonstration team of the Italian Air Force; Frecce Tricolori. The stylish design codes of the 1984 Chronomat made this timepiece truly an all-purpose sports watch. Although the Breitling Chronomat was seen as a watch for pilots and the aviation industry, it was just as popular in other areas such as Formula 1 teams. The unique reversible rider tabs also made the Chronomat ideally suited for regattas as well.
With such versatility, the Breitling Chronomat was made to be a daily wearer, a watch that you can wear on the red carpet while fitting in perfectly at outdoor activities and the beach. The latest Breitling Chronomat collection released in 2020 captures all the essence and qualities of the original model while giving it an update with modern design cues and movement, showcasing the brand’s future.
In regards to the Chronomat and this new collection, Breitling CEO Georges Kern states that: “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.”
This latest collection sees Breitling release five different Chronomat models with different materials used for the dial and bezels. The model WatchAdvice has is the Chronomat B01 42 stainless steel in copper. We chose this particular model for the review, due to the sheer beauty of the copper dial, which stood out to us almost immediately compared to the rest of the models.
As the name suggests, the Chronomat B01 42 comes in a stainless steel 42mm case, which is waterproofed to 200m (660 ft). The onion-shaped crown is still retained, with slightly slanted chronograph pushers used as well. The lugs aren’t as curved in as we’d expect and sit quite flat, so if you have wrists on the smaller side, they may protrude out.
Much like the original, the bezel is certainly a stand-out feature of the Chronomat. This signature rotating bezel is highlighted by the rider tabs, which was created by Breitling to not only protect the crystal on the dial but also make the rotating of the bezel easier. Like the original 1984 Chronomat, the rider tabs are located at the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock position and are interchangeable, which allows the wearer to use it as a “count up” or “count down” function. The bezel also has a beautiful finish to it, giving a nice shine that complements the dial nicely.
The Breitling Chronomat B01 42 comes with a black tri-counter layout in 3-6-9 positions. The sub counters include a 30 minute at 3 o’clock, 12-hour at 6 o’clock, and constant seconds at 9 o’clock. The applied hour markers along with the hour and minute hands have a sleek rectangular shape, adding sharpness to the overall look of the timepiece. The chronograph seconds hand is in red to make it stand out, although it’ll stand out the least against the copper dial out of all the dial colour options available. A black tachymeter scale is also presented on the outer ring of the dial.
The main attention of this watch goes to, of course, the dial colour. The copper shines beautifully under light and almost has a sunburst effect to it. Pair this with the black-tri counter layout, and the two opposing colours work really well together. Even though the hands and hour indexes are less contrasting against the copper dial, the readability isn’t hindered. Having a chronograph feature on this timepiece can make it seem crowded; however, if Breitling were to increase the case size, I feel it would sit too big on the wrist.
Another beautiful part of this timepiece is the stainless steel bracelet. The original bracelet from the first models has been upgraded to what Breitling terms Rouleaux bracelet. This bracelet features polished links and is one of the best looking integrated bracelets on the market right now.
The engine behind the Breitling Chronomat B01 42 is the brand’s own in-house Manufacture Calibre 01 movement. An interesting fact about this movement is that when the movement was first released back in 2010, it was in a Chronomat 01 model! This self-winding mechanical movement runs at a frequency of 4Hz (28, 800 VpH). The movement can give out a decent power output of approximately 70 hours. The Breitling Chronomat B01 42 does come with an open case back, which allows the wearer (although limited) to see the B01 movement functioning inside.
How does it wear:
On a 6.5inch wrist, the Breitling Chronomat sits big on the wrist. This is due to the case thickness being just over 15mm. There is no denying that this watch looks masculine from every angle you look at! As you would expect, the watch will feel heavy on your wrist after long periods of wear. If you got past this then you are going to love the watch.
The copper, sunray-brushed dial layout is easy on the eye and the time can be read easily. As we mentioned previously, the cooper dial is just as stunning to look at especially with the black sub-dials. I love the look of the bullet style stainless steel bracelet on the wrist. It’s comfortable to wear and contributes well to the overall look of the watch.
The crown and chronograph pushers are easy to operate. If you have a wrist size of 7.5inch or above, don’t mind the heaviness on the wrist, I feel you would enjoy this watch thoroughly.
I had the pleasure of wearing this watch for just over a couple of weeks to really test it out. During that time, if I was to be picky, I would only have a couple of complaints. First, the weight (as I mentioned earlier) it’s comfortable at first but after long periods of wear, the weight is definitely noticeable. Second is the size, even though it’s 42mm, it wears like a 43-44mm watch. So if you happen to have a wrist size of 6.5inch or smaller you would be struggling to pull off the Chronomat. Now, these are not deal-breakers by any means. You are allowed to wear the watches you like and if this one happens to be that, then you will enjoy it thoroughly. These are the things I found with my time with the watch. Outside of these, there are no faults to be had. Breitling has done a sensational job at executing this watch especially the reintroduction of the rouleaux bracelet!
With the release of the latest Chronomat collection by Breitling, the models have been tweaked and updated to give a modern touch, whilst still retaining the vintage design cues of the original. Our pick of the bunch, the copper dial with black tri-counter layout was a joy to wear. The dial does speak for itself, more-so with the contrasting black counters. Add to this the integrated Rouleaux bracelet and this Breitling Chronomat B01 42 will be hard to put down!
Breitling Chronomat B01 42 Specification:
Model Reference: AB0134101K1A1
Case Diameter: 42mm
Functions: Hours, Minutes, Seconds and Chronograph
Movement: Breitling B01
Power Reserve: Min. 70 hours
Water Resistance: 200 meters
Australian Retail Pricing: $11,350.00
Availability: Available now
Local Authorised Dealers :
- Brisbane – Hardy Brothers and The Hour Glass
- Melbourne – Monards ( Collins Street and Crown Casino), Gregory Jewellers, The Hour Glass and Watches of Switzerland
- Sydney – Breitling Boutique, Gregory Jewellers, Swiss Concept, The Hour Glass and Watches of Switzerland
- Perth – Watches of Switzerland