The New Breitling Chronomat Collection Roars Off the Runway


The first Breitling Chronomat made its debut in 1948, and instantly made history as the first wristwatch to incorporate the aviator’s slide-rule bezel that is now the hallmark of another Breitling model, the Navitimer. When the Chronomat was resurrected after a lengthy hiatus in 1984, Breitling’s 100th anniversary year, it had been substantially redesigned and became a collection mainstay in its own right. It is this 1980s version — a mechanical pilots’ chronograph boldly launched into the teeth of the Quartz Crisis headwinds — that inspires the latest and perhaps most anticipated relaunch of the new Breitling era, which began in earnest in 2017. Here’s the lowdown on the new Chronomat collection.

Breitling Chronomat B01 42 Frecce Tricolori Limited Edition

Developed for Italy’s famed Frecce Tricolori aerial squadron, the 1984 Chronomat was clearly influenced by aviation style, as have been so many other Breitling timepieces, but it also appealed to auto racing fans with its tachymeter-scale flange and to yachting enthusiasts with its emblematic “rider tabs” at the quarter-hours on the rotating bezel that could be gripped easily to set countdown times with the stopwatch. Both elements are present in the new Chronomats, which also ramp up the retro charm with their distinctive “Rouleau” style integrated steel bracelets with butterfly clasps. Bonus: the rider tabs at 12 o’clock and 3 o’clock are interchangeable, meaning they can be used either for tallying up or counting down the first 15-minute interval.

Breitling Chronomat B01 42 with silver dial and black subdials

The watches all feature 42-mm cases, in either stainless steel or 18k rose gold, and a tricompax dial arrangement with subdials at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock — a configuration that, as per current Breitling styling, speaks to their use of an in-house chronograph-equipped movement, Breitling’s automatic B01. Appropriately enough, that movement, whose attributes include a column-wheel chronograph architecture, a COSC chronometer certification, and a 70-hour power reserve, made its debut more than a decade ago in a Chronomat model.

Breitling Chronomat B01 42 Bentley Limited Edition

The Chronomat B01 42 is available in a range of colorful variations. One model in stainless steel offers a silver, copper, or blue dial with contrasting black subdials. Another special edition, produced as part of Breitling’s longstanding collaboration with Bentley, has a dial in British racing green with black subdials and a sapphire exhibition caseback engraved with a Bentley logo. Honoring the original timepiece that inspired the 1984 Chronomat revival is the Chronomat Frecce Tricolori Limited Edition (pictured at top), with a blue dial and tone-on-tone subdials. A Frecce Tricolori logo replaces the Breitling logo on the dial, and the inscription “ONE OF 250” adorns the caseback.

Breitling Chronomat B01 42 with copper dial and black subdials

On the more luxurious end, the Chronomat B01 42 is available in a steel case with rose-gold crown, pushers, and rider tabs and a silver dial with silver tone-on-tone subdials. On another model, the entire bezel is made of rose gold, along with the pushers and crown and components of the steel-and-gold Rouleaux bracelet. This version offers dials in either blue with tone-on-tone subdials or anthracite with black subdials. At the highest echelon of sporty luxury is the one model mounted on a black leather strap rather than a bracelet, in a case of full 18k rose gold and anthracite-and-black dial.

Breitling Chronomat B01 42 with rose-gold bezel and two-tone bracelet

Prices for the new Chronomat collection range as follows: $8,100 for the steel editions with silver, copper, black or blue dials; $8,250 for the Bentley and Frecce Tricolori editions; $9,350 for the steel model with gold rider tabs; $12,100 for the steel-and-gold models on bracelets; and $20,200 for the gold-cased models on rubber or leather.

Hands-On Pictures:

11 Responses to “The New Breitling Chronomat Collection Roars Off the Runway”

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  1. Michael Taylor

    I can’t wait to see the Breitling Chronomat B01 42 with silver dial and black subdials in person. I think it looks great! Thanks for the article Mark Bernardo.

    Reply
  2. A. G. (Alex) Tsakumis

    Georges Kern’s destruction of Breitling continues. He did the exact same thing at IWC. When he left, there were celebrations (plural). There is no limit to how he has gutted Breitling. I owned over 50 Breitlings at one time. After losing significant weight I sold many of my larger pieces but am glad I kept the Chronomat 44s etc. and many of the 46mm pieces like the Rattrapante in 18kt gold etc. These are timeless. When Kern removed the winged emblem from most Breitlings and eliminated the vintage feel to them, he killed the brand. This new Chronomat is ugly, over simplified and doesn’t, in any way, represent the brand’s ethos over so many decades. Kern’s turn at Breitling is the single most destructive tenure of any watch executive ever. The fools trying to out a brave face on what he’s doing there are contributing to the death of Breitling. It’s maddening. And so many models at 42mm??? THAT’S NOT BREITLING! Georges Kern should be banished from the brand. Horrible man.

    Reply
    • If Kern is responsible for single-handedly taking Breitling away from being the ugly, overly shiny watch of choice for dodgy used car salesmen, he deserves a knighthood!

      Reply
    • Thomas Wyler

      Alex, good that you like the Breitling watches you bought before Georges Kern took over. But I personally disagree with your assessment of his impact. I much prefer the clearer design of the current models, which are classier and more elegant than ever. I find what he is doing cool, and I told him so this afternoon, as I came across him by random chance on the streets of Zurich. As far as I am concerned, I am more likely to buy a Breitling watch than I was before. And seriously: 42 mm, not big enough?

      Reply
  3. Abraham

    I would love the green-faced model with a solid caseback and without the Bentley link.

    Reply
  4. Steve Carlson

    As I am sure you are aware, Breitling has deserted their anchor and wing insignia. As a Navy/Marine this logo really pulled at my heart, and I own 4 Breitlings as well as 3 Omegas and 6 Rolexes. However, with the redirection of Breitling I will never buy another one! Both Omega and Rolex have stayed by their brand. Know anyone who wants to buy my Breitlings?!

    Reply
    • Stephen

      Why sell them my friend ? Breitling’s new, misguided direction only makes those you own more special…Keep them and gloat…

      Reply
  5. Stephen Barnard

    Actually, I like these! Breitling going simple (stylistically) is a lot more successful, in my opinion, than Longines going complicated. My only real caveat is that while BRG looks great on an older Bentley motorcar, it needs to be matched to a white roundel – preferably with the number 8 on it…

    Reply
  6. Matt Malone

    And George Kerns disappoints once again! How much longer until Breitling’s security team escorts him off of the premises for plotting the murder of a once beloved watch company? I sure hope the Asian market is worth turning away guys like me who have been completely loyal to only this watch company for at least 30 years. Well I guess it’s time to explore the othe swiss watch companies now. And now sadly I must say goodbye Breitling…at least til Kerns departs!

    Reply
    • Thomas Wyler

      The swansong of the old guard who wants to keep Breitling big & sleazy?

      Reply
  7. Jerry Hom

    Not certain how well this reissue of the Breitling Chronomat will be received? I recall with great nostalgia how delighted we were to replace the “bullet” bracelet with the newly designed “pilot” bracelet back in the late 1980s on our Chronomat watches. Admit that those models were quite superior to more recent iterations but I personally feel that they are moving back into their archives too much. Some innovation in appearance is needed to make that brand relevant again!

    Reply
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