The Breitling Chronomat is an iconic timepiece has been a favorite of watch enthusiasts for decades, thanks to its precision engineering, sleek design, and impressive durability. If you’re in the market for a new watch, the Breitling Chronomat is a great choice. However, we know that with so many different models and styles to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start.
That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive buying guide to help you navigate the world of Breitling Chronomat watches and find the perfect model for your needs and style. From classic designs to modern innovations, we’ve got everything you need to know to find the perfect Breitling Chronomat watch for your needs.
A Brief History of the Breitling Chronomat
The Breitling Chronomat is a legendary timepiece that has been around since 1940. It was originally designed as a pilot’s watch for the Italian Air Force, and it quickly gained popularity among pilots for its accuracy and reliability. Its name was derived from the words “chronographe mathematique”, meaning mathematical chronograph, but the re-release in the 1980s has since redesigned the watch as a multi-purpose sports watch.
In 1984, Breitling re-launched the Chronomat as a modern chronograph watch with a bold design and improved functionality. This new version was designed to appeal to both pilots and sports enthusiasts, and it quickly became one of Breitling’s most popular models.
In 2004, Breitling updated the Chronomat line once more, this time introducing the Chronomat Evolution; and in 2009, they reinvented the collection with the Caliber B01, Breitling’s first ever in-house movement.
Over the years, the Chronomat has undergone several updates and revisions, but it has always remained true to its original design principles. Today, the Chronomat is still considered one of Breitling’s most iconic and important models, and it continues to be a favorite among pilots, collectors, and watch enthusiasts around the world. It received a major update in 2020 while still maintaining the classic look.
Breitling Chronomat Case and Bezel
The previous generations of the Breitling Chronomat had a distinctive case and bezel design that set it apart from other watches of the time. The case was made from stainless steel and had a diameter of 40mm, which was considered large when it was launched in the 1980s. The case featured polished and brushed surfaces, which gave it a stylish and modern look. The lugs were also sculpted to give the watch a more streamlined appearance.
The bezel of the 1980s Chronomat was particularly noteworthy. It was a unidirectional rotating bezel with 60-minute markings, and it had rider tabs at the 15, 30, and 45-minute marks. The rider tabs were designed to make it easier to grip and turn the bezel, even while wearing gloves. The bezel also had a unique look, with raised, angled numerals that were easy to read. This version of the bezel remained for the next four decades.
The 2020 edition of the Breitling Chronomat has a more modern, refined look than previous generations. The case is still made from stainless steel, but it has been slightly enlarged to 42mm and 44mm, giving it a more substantial feel on the wrist. The case also features a mix of polished and brushed surfaces, but the edges are sharper and more defined. The lugs are straighter and more angular, giving the watch a more contemporary, sporty look.
Special additions give more material options including steel with gold rider tabs, steel and gold case and bracelet, or a full gold case.
The bezel of the 2020 Chronomat has also been updated. It is still a unidirectional rotating bezel with 60-minute markings, but the rider tabs are now integrated into the bezel rather than protruding from it. The numerals on the bezel are now more streamlined and less angled, and they are engraved rather than raised in 5-minute intervals rather than 15. The overall effect is a more modern look that is in line with contemporary watch design trends.
The most interesting update would be the ability to unscrew the tabs at 3 and 9 o’clock and switch their positions. This allows you to shift the bezel between a countdown or count-up timer. That said, it’s recommended that this shift be done by the professionals rather than at home.
Breitling Chronomat Dials
The dial of previous generation Breitling Chronomat watches was designed for easy legibility in a variety of lighting conditions, which was essential for pilots. The dial often had a black background with contrasting white markings, including large indices for the hours and smaller markings for the minutes. The hour markers and hands were coated with a luminescent material for visibility in low-light conditions. You can choose between the time and date-only model or the chronograph.
The chronograph sub-dials were located at the 6, 9, and 12 o’clock positions and had a distinctive design. The sub-dial at 12 o’clock had a 30-minute counter, while the sub-dial at 6 o’clock had a 12-hour counter. The sub-dial at 9 o’clock was used for running seconds.
The date window was located at the standard 3 o’clock position and had a white background with black numerals.
Overall, the previous Breitling Chronomat had a utilitarian, no-nonsense feel that was in line with its original purpose as a pilot’s watch. Dial colors swung around between blue, black, and a white or cream color, but there are rare references that sported a green or yellow dial.
2020 Dial Changes
The dial of the 2020 Breitling Chronomat has been updated to reflect more contemporary design trends while still retaining the watch’s identity as a pilot’s chronograph. The dial has a sunburst finish, which catches the light and gives it a dynamic, almost three-dimensional appearance. While still appearing in the typical colors, they’ve added others like a mint green. Standard at release were the colors silver, copper, blue, or black.
The hour markers are now applied rather than printed, and they are larger and more prominent than in previous generations of the Chronomat. The hour and minute hands are also more substantial and have a Super-LumiNova coating for easy visibility in low-light conditions.
The chronograph sub-dials retained their design, but they are slightly larger and have a more polished, refined look. The sub-dial at 3 o’clock has a 30-minute counter, while the sub-dial at 6 o’clock has a 12-hour counter. The sub-dial at 9 o’clock is used for running seconds.
The date window still appears at the 6 o’clock position, but it’s set within the 12-hour subdial.
Breitling Chronomat Bracelet
The bracelet on the 80s Breitling Chronomat was made from stainless steel and were either made of the distinctive, chunky design that was popular at the time called a Rouleaux bracelet; or the more ubiquitous five-piece Pilot link bracelets. There were also a couple of models with leather straps, which used to be the standard bracelet for the Chronomat in the 1970s, but the 1980s re-emergence of the collection favored steel bracelets as a whole.
One of the key design features of the bracelet on the previous generation of the Chronomat was the use of screws to attach the links to each other rather than pins. This made it easier to adjust the size of the bracelet and added to its durability.
2020 Bracelet Changes
The bracelet on the 2020 Breitling Chronomat has been updated to reflect more contemporary design trends while still retaining the watch’s identity as a sports chronograph. It keeps the beautifully rounded Rouleaux links, The bracelet is still made from stainless steel, but it has been refined and slimmed down compared to the 1980s version.
The links on the 2020 bracelet are smaller and more curved, which gives the bracelet a more fluid, ergonomic feel on the wrist. The links are also polished to a high shine, which gives the bracelet a more refined, luxurious appearance. The bracelet features a new clasp design that is more streamlined and easier to use, with a simple push-button release.
One notable feature of the bracelet on the 2020 Chronomat is the use of an interchangeable system that allows the wearer to easily switch out the bracelet for a rubber or leather strap. This gives the watch more versatility and allows the wearer to customize their look depending on the occasion.
While the current generation still sports that Rouleaux design with the rounded links, a few models sport a leather strap giving a nod to the Chronomats that were released before 1970.
Breitling Chronomat Movements
The 1980s Breitling Chronomat was powered by a mechanical movement, which was developed in-house by Breitling. The movement was based on the Valjoux 7750, which was a popular and reliable movement used in many chronographs at the time.
It had a frequency of 28,800 beats per hour (BPH) and had a power reserve of around 42 hours. It featured a 30-minute counter and a 12-hour counter for the chronograph function, as well as a running seconds sub-dial at 9 o’clock.
By 1993 you’ll see a shift to the Breitling 13 movement in the irregular Breitling Chronomat Blackbird ref. A13350. In 2009, the Breitling Chronomat was updated with Caliber B01, Breitling’s first completely in-house movement.
2020 Movement Advancements
The movement in the 2020 Breitling Chronomat has been updated to reflect more contemporary design and technology trends. It is now powered by an entirely in-house automatic movement, which is known as the Breitling Caliber 01.
The Caliber 01 has a frequency of 28,800 BPH and a power reserve of around 70 hours. The movement is equipped with a column wheel chronograph function, which allows for smoother operation and greater precision. It also features a running seconds sub-dial at 9 o’clock and a date function, which is displayed in a window at the 6 o’clock position on the dial.
One notable feature of the Caliber 01 is that it is equipped with a vertical clutch system, which allows for more accurate and reliable chronograph operation. The movement is also equipped with a stop-second function, which allows for precise time setting.
Today, you’ll find slightly different calibers in the Chronomat depending on the size. The 32mm watches sport the Superquartz Caliber 77 movement; the automatic Caliber 10 movement for the 36mm models; the Caliber 01 for the 42 and 44mm models. All of these movements are built exclusively in-house.
Overall, the movement in the 2020 Breitling Chronomat is a significant improvement over the previous generations, with more advanced technology and greater precision and accuracy. It reflects Breitling’s commitment to innovation and continuous improvement in their watch designs.
The Breitling Chronomat: Final Thoughts
With its rich history, exceptional craftsmanship, and timeless design, the Chronomat is a true investment piece that will stand the test of time. By using this guide, buyers can ensure they make an informed decision and find the perfect Breitling Chronomat watch to suit their style and needs.
Whether you go for the vintage or contemporary versions, the Breitling Chronomat is a true symbol of luxury and sophistication that will be treasured for years to come. Find yours today from our vast selection of Breitling watches at SwissWatchExpo.com.