Breitling Chronomat: A Watch that Can Do Math

Breitling Chronomat

The Swiss brand Breitling has always dominated the skies. Indeed, a lot of pilots vouch for their timepieces. And one such model is the Breitling Chronomat.

Originally made for the military, the Chronomat was one of the most important milestones of the brand. In fact, it was the brand’s first wristwatch that featured a slide rule bezel. 

In modern times, the Chronomat is still being used by dozens of aviators. Additionally, it has become a collector’s item and a must-have for every pilot’s watch collector. Read on to find out how the Breitling Chronomat came to be.

History of the Breitling Chronomat

In the middle of the Second World War, watchmakers put a lot of emphasis on making military-inspired models. With that said, Breitling started to develop the Chronomat in the 1940s. Aside from supplying the U.S. Air Force, they also wanted to secure a patent for the slide rule bezel.

But what’s so special about the slide rule bezel? To put it simply, the slide rule is a tool that can make various mathematical calculations. A few of those include metric to standard conversions, fuel consumption, air speed, and distance calculations. These features were extremely important to pilots, Breitling’s target audience.

Chronomat ref. 769 (1941), Breitling Chronomat Watches
Photo from moneyinc.com

Breitling Chronomat Ref. 769 (1941)

In 1941, Breitling finally secured the patent. So in 1941, they introduced the first-ever Breitling Chronomat under the reference number 769. The first iteration of the Chronomat was a hit due to its chronograph function and integrated slide rule.

It is often a misconception that the Chronomat was the first watch to have the slide rule bezel. Unfortunately, MIMO patented the innovation only a few weeks before the release of the Chronomat. But Breitling managed to work around it.

To be able to secure their own patent, the brand tweaked its own slide rule. Instead of just one, it featured two scales with the outer scale being read in a counter-clockwise manner.

Back then, the Chronomat Ref. 769 was offered in two versions — 18K rose gold and steel. In terms of performance, it was equipped with a Venus 175 movement. It was a hand-wound mechanical movement with 17 jewels.

Breitling Chronomat Ref. 81950 (1984-1990)

The ’70s and early ’80s brought the Quartz Crisis. The business was booming for quartz watch manufacturers. Meanwhile, Swiss watchmakers were left struggling. In effect, Breitling ceased the production of watches. Shortly after, the company was put up for sale. Thankfully, in 1978, Ernest Schneider purchased the watch company. Thus, the production of the watches resumed in 1980.

New versions of the Breitling Chronomat under the Ref. number 81950 surfaced in 1984. The new Chronomat was very different from the Ref. 81950. In fact, its predecessor shares more similarities with the modern Breitling Navitimer. Fortunately, the market gave positive reactions to the watch’s facelift.

In addition to its new looks, its movement also received major upgrades. For the first time, Breitling decided to use the mechanical Valjoux 7750 movement. If you would ask watch enthusiasts, a lot of people would claim that it is one of the world’s greatest chronograph movements. In fact, the movement is still being used today by the brand.

Breitling Frecce Tricolori, Breitling Chronomat Watches
Photo from breitling.com

Breitling Frecce Tricolori

It is important to mention that the Pattuglia Acrobatica Nazionale Frecce Tricolori was involved in the design of the Chronomat ref. 81950. For those who are unfamiliar, the mentioned organization is the elite Italian Air Force aerobatic team.

In exchange, Breitling let the pilots who are part of the aerobatics team have first dibs on the watch’s special edition. The chronograph watch had everything they needed. In fact, it was made to their specifications. Finally, the logo of the Frecce Tricolori was printed on the watch’s dial. 

Chronomat Moonphase (1985), Breitling Chronomat Watches

Chronomat Moonphase (1985)

As the months passed, the Chronomat became more and more popular outside the aviation community. So why not create a watch that will appeal to non-pilots?

Yet again maximizing their dominance in the sky, Breitling released a Moonphase timepiece. Its design was inspired by the original version of the Chronomat with the addition of a moon phase on its dial.

Unfortunately, the Chronomat Moonphase was released in very limited numbers. Due to its rarity, it is one of the most sought-after timepieces. In addition to that, it fetches a huge amount of money.

Chronomat Yachting, Breitling Chronomat Watches
Photo from regatta-yachttimers.com

Chronomat Yachting (1989)

A lot of people do not know this but Breitling also produced watches for yachtsmen during the ’80s. However, all of their yachting watches had a quartz movement before 1989. And yacht owners were starting to demand mechanical watches.

To fulfill their wishes, Breitling developed a complication that allowed the Valjoux 7750 movement to include a yachting timer. The brand calls it a “10-minute countdown aperture and a double indication of the final minute before the start of the race”.

Additionally, like the Chronomat released in 1984, it has the reference number 81950.

Chronomat Ref. 13047 (1990 to 1993)

From 81950, Breitling changed the Chronomat’s reference number to 13047. The reference number also had a prefix that indicates the case material. For the steel versions, they used “A”, which stands for “Acier” (French for steel). On the other hand, the prefix “B” stands for “bi-color”, because the other version came in steel with gold details.

A New In-house Movement

As previously mentioned, Breitling used a movement called Valjoux 7750 for their Chronomats. But in 2009, they started using their in-house movement called the B01 caliber.

The brand’s new in-house movement was a huge feat. It was the caliber that turned them from a mere watch assembler to a full-fledged watchmaker. And the B01 wasn’t bad considering it’s their first one that’s made fully in-house. In fact, this movement is certified by the COSC (Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute).

Breitling’s B01 caliber has 47 jewels and can power your timepiece for approximately 70 hours. That is more than the average power reserve. Furthermore, it incorporates a modular design so it would be easy to service the movement.

What Can the Breitling Chronomat Do?

Decades have passed, yet the slide rule remains a core feature of Breitling watches. With the slide rule, here are a few things that the Chronomat can do.

Breitling Chronomat features:

  • Math problems: multiplication, division
  • Fuel consumption
  • Tachometer: speed, distance covered
  • Currency conversion
  • Temperature conversion
  • Rate of climb or descent
  • The distance of climb or descent

How to Spot a Fake Breitling Chronomat?

Breitling Chronomat watches are pretty popular. And that means it is prone to be copied. Here are a few things you should take note of when shopping for your next grail.

1. Feel how heavy it is.

If you have the option to check the watch in person, try to hold it and feel its weight. Breitling watches are supposed to be heavy. When wearing it, you should feel its heft. Authentic watches are made with durable stainless steel. Meanwhile, counterfeits are usually made with cheaper materials like plastic thus making them light.

2. Observe the logo.

Breitling has two different kinds of logos. Here are the details that you should look for each of them.

Breitling Winged Anchor logo

The Winged Anchor Logo

The most easily recognized logo of Breitling is the winged anchor with a scripted letter ‘B’ on its shank. Now, there are two details that you should take note of. Firstly, there should be a slight gap between the tip of the anchor and the wings. Secondly, the lines inside the wings should not reach the tip. 

Breitling B Logo

The “B” logo

Breitling’s other logo consists of their signature script letter “B”. The brand uses this on watches that are part of the Heritage Collection. In an authentic Breitling watch, the “B” is raised and stands out. On the other hand, a replica watch looks like it had a letter “B” sticker stamped on it.

Counterfeiters cannot usually copy these details. So to be extra sure, use a magnifying glass to observe the logos.

3. Check the model and serial number.

If you flip the watch over, you should see its model number on the case back. You can send this number to an official dealer to check if it really is authentic.

4. Inspect the buckle.

Authentic Breitling watches have the word “Breitling” engraved on the buckle. Try to run your finger across it. The engraving should be deep and you should be able to feel it. But when you look at the other side of the buckle, it should be smooth and the stamping should not bleed through.

Breitling Seconds Hand
 

5. Check the end of the seconds hand.

It is important to note that not all Breitling watches share this detail. So be sure to double-check the watch’s specific model to see if it incorporates this detail. The modern Chronomats, however, have this design.

The tip of the seconds hand should end with the signature cursive “B” that drops into an anchor shape.

6. Ask for the papers.

An authentic watch comes with a printed certificate of authenticity. It should list the timepiece’s technical specifications and manufacturing origin. Apart from those, it will also tell about the individual components of the watch. Most counterfeiters will not bother to replicate this.

However, for some reason, it is possible that the owner has lost the papers. But if you want to be extra sure, proceed to number 7 on this list.

7. Open the back as a last resort.

Breitling has taken steps to avoid being copied. However, as technology advances, so do the skills of counterfeiters. So to be 100% sure that the watch is authentic, check the components inside. You can bring it to a professional watchmaker.

Authentic Breitling watches are only Swiss-made so the engravings inside should only be in Swiss. If you see anything that says “Japan” or “Made in Japan”, then it’s fake.

Best Breitling Chronomat Variants

Here are some of the Breitling Chronomat models you should check out.

Chronomat 44 - Steel & Gold - Onyx Black, Breitling Chronomat Watches
Photo from breitling.com

Chronomat 44 – Steel & Gold – Onyx Black

The Chronomat 44 – Steel & gold – Onyx Black is one of the most elegant versions of this model. It comes in a bi-colored dial. Meanwhile, the black leather strap ties the whole look together. This colorway is perfect to wear during formal occasions.

Specs:

  • Caliber: Breitling 01 (Manufacture)
  • Movement: self-winding mechanical
  • Power reserve: 70 hrs
  • Chronograph: 1/4th second, 30 minutes, 12 hours
  • Vibration: 28,800 v.p.h
  • Jewel: 47 jewels
  • Calendar: Dial aperture
Chronomat B01 Chronograph 44, Breitling Chronomat Watches
Photo from breitling.com

Chronomat B01 Chronograph 44

The Chronomat B01 Chronograph 44 has a much more polished case. Its light blue dial contrasts well with the black subdials for the chronograph. This increases the watch’s legibility. Finally, it comes with a steel pilot bracelet for that sporty and casual aesthetic.

Specs:

  • Caliber: Breitling 01 (Manufacture)
  • Movement: self-winding mechanical
  • Power reserve: 70 hrs
  • Chronograph: 1/4th second, 30 minutes, 12 hours
  • Vibration: 28,800 v.p.h
  • Jewel: 47 jewels
  • Calendar: Dial aperture
Breitling Chronomat 44 Carbon, Breitling Chronomat Watches
Photo from breitling.com

Chronomat 44 – Steel Carbon

If you’re a big fan of black on black, check out the Chronomat 44 – Steel Carbon. If you’ll look closely, the dial consists of a subtle carbon pattern.

But that’s not all that all. Its subdials also stand out from the others. Instead of the usual circle, it comes in squares. This is perfect for those who want something unique for their watches.

Specs:

  • Caliber: Breitling 01 (Manufacture)
  • Movement: self-winding mechanical
  • Power reserve: 70 hrs
  • Chronograph: 1/4th second, 30 minutes, 12 hours
  • Vibration: 28,800 v.p.h
  • Jewel: 47 jewels
  • Calendar: Dial aperture
Chronomat 44 - Blackeye Blue, Breitling Chronomat Watches
Photo from breitling.com

Chronomat 44 – Blackeye Blue

The Chronomat 44 – Blackeye Blue is a good balance between standing out and staying neutral. Its dark blue dial color makes it stand out from the overplayed black dial. Furthermore, it is neutral enough to stay versatile.

Specs:

  • Caliber: Breitling 01 (Manufacture)
  • Movement: self-winding mechanical
  • Power reserve: 70 hrs
  • Chronograph: 1/4th second, 30 minutes, 12 hours
  • Vibration: 28,800 v.p.h
  • Jewel: 47 jewels
  • Calendar: Dial aperture
Breitling Chronomat 44 Golden Sun, Breitling Chronomat Watches
Photo from breitling.com

Chronomat 44 – Golden Sun

If you’re all about the bling, you’ll adore the Chronomat 44 – Golden Sun. If you look closely, the whole face of the watch comes in different shades of gold. This subtle variation makes the watch a treat to look at. Lastly, its metal bracelet comes in the usual gold-and-silver color scheme.

Specs:

  • Caliber: Breitling 01 (Manufacture)
  • Movement: self-winding mechanical
  • Power reserve: 70 hrs
  • Chronograph: 1/4th second, 30 minutes, 12 hours
  • Vibration: 28,800 v.p.h
  • Jewel: 47 jewels
  • Calendar: Dial aperture

Chronomat 44 - Steel & Gold - Metallica Blue, Breitling Chronomat Watches

Chronomat 44 – Steel & Gold – Metallica Blue

If you like gold but want a more toned-down version, the Chronomat 44 – Steel & Gold – Metallic Blue is for you. Instead of the whole dial, only the bezel and subdials of this watch are in yellow gold. Furthermore, its warm color blends in well with the blue background.

Specs:

  • Caliber: Breitling 01 (Manufacture)
  • Movement: self-winding mechanical
  • Power reserve: 70 hrs
  • Chronograph: 1/4th second, 30 minutes, 12 hours
  • Vibration: 28,800 v.p.h
  • Jewel: 47 jewels
  • Calendar: Dial aperture

Final Notes

The Breitling Chronomat is one of the most iconic watches in horological history. Indeed, it will always have a place in every pilot watch collector’s arsenal. With the Chronomat, Breitling continues to dominate the skies.

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