Breitling is practically synonymous with chronograph, and on May 28, 2009, Breitling will officially launch the Chronomat B01 with their new in-house automatic-winding chronograph movement, known as Caliber B01. Initially the watch will be available at only about 35 retailers in the U.S., with additional retailers coming on-line quickly. As of late March, about 2000 pieces had been produced. Production will eventually reach about 50,000 pieces annually.
Caliber B01 has been in development for 5 years, and its launch coincides with Breitling’s 125th anniversary. A new, four-story addition to Breitling’s facility at La Chaux –de-Fonds houses the caliber’s construction. The movement incorporates a column-wheel switching mechanism and a vertical clutch, two hallmarks of a well-made chronograph. The vertical clutch assures that the chronograph seconds hand does not jump when the chronograph is engaged. The B01 has central chronograph seconds, continuous seconds at 9, and a jumping 30 minute totalizer at 3. The instant-change date is located at 4:30. The date can be changed at any time, including near midnight. The movement includes a patented system for adjusting the start, stop and reset hammers. The 47 jewel movement uses a flat hairspring and a smooth balance wheel. A single barrel provides 70 hours of power reserve. The B01 ticks along at 28,800 vph, and as with all Breitlings, the Chronomat B01 is COSC-certified.
At Basel, Vice-President Jean-Paul Girardin said that Breitling decided to produce Caliber B01 to satisfy market demand for a manufacture movement, and to assure Breitling’s future. The company felt that it must have a reliable supply of mechanical chronograph movements, as this type of watch accounts for 55% of Breitling’s sales.
The Chronomat B01 measures 43.5mm in diameter and it will be available in four versions: all steel, steel with a steel bezel with four gold quarter-hour markers, steel with a gold bezel, and solid 18K (4N) red gold. A total of 18 different dials will be available The unidirectional bezel turns smoothly with 240 teeth. The sapphire crystal is anti-reflective coated on both sides. Steel and two-tone models are water resistant to 500 meters, while the all-gold model can be taken down to 100 meters.
The Chronomat B01 starts at about $6500 for a steel model on a leather strap. The opening price for the two-tone version on a bracelet is $7770. An all-gold model on a strap will start at $21,610. The B01 tops out at $44,125 for the red gold and diamond version on a red gold bracelet.
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