Breitling Chronomat

Breitling is a Swiss watch manufacturer founded in 1884.

Breitling has played a major role in the development and evolution of the chronograph (stopwatch function) and is said to be synonymous with high-performance pilot watches.

This time, I would like to focus on Breitling's "Chronomat".

The Beginnings of the Breitling Chronomat

The first Chronomat

What is "Chronomat"?


It is a name that combines the

As the name suggests, it is a "chronograph with a rotating slide rule."

In 1941, prior to its introduction in 1942, Breitling received a patent for the first Chronomat from the Swiss government.

In fact, at the time, the patent for the rotary slide rule had been obtained by MIMO (a German watch manufacturer now known as Girard-Perregaux) within just a few weeks of each other.

The first Chronomat

Nevertheless, the Chronomat patent was granted

- Two slide rules are placed on the inside and outside of the dial, and the numbers on the outer slide rule are read counterclockwise.
- It also has a chronograph

This is because there were some crucial differences from the MIMO patent, such as:

The dial of the first Chronomat was engraved with this patent number, "217 012".

The movement is a hand-wound 17-jewel Venus 175 movement, and the case was available in both stainless steel and 18k rose gold versions.

The Navitimer, released in 1952, was derived from this first Chronomat.

Click here to learn more about the Navitimer!

The Birth of the New Chronomat

Fast forward to the 1970s, and the watch industry was hit by the "Quartz Shock."

Demand for quartz watches, which were much cheaper and more accurate than mechanical watches, surged, and mechanical watches went into a steady decline.

Breitling was no exception, and in 1978, all production was halted.

The man who saved him from this predicament was a man named Ernest Schneider.

Schneider, a pilot, electronic engineer, and owner of a quartz watch manufacturer, took over the company from Breitling's third generation leader, Willy Breitling, in 1979 and dedicated his entire fortune to rebuilding Breitling.

Then in 1982, when Schneider learned that the Italian Air Force's acrobatic flying team, the Frecce Tricolori, was holding a public competition to design its first official watch, he began developing a completely new chronograph for pilots, something that pilots would want.

We conducted detailed interviews with pilots to find out what kind of functions they wanted, and then went through a process of trial and error in the design to see how we could realize those functions. We then created over 100 prototypes and had them wear them during flight training, making repeated improvements.

Their efforts paid off, and in 1983, the chronograph was adopted as the official watch of the Frecce Tricolori.

This chronograph, which was developed with thorough listening to pilots' opinions, has several features.

The new Chronomat

First, the rider tab.

To make it easier for pilots to grasp the bezel while wearing gloves and to protect the crystal from damage, the bezel has rider tabs at the 0, 15, 30, and 45 minute positions.

The rider tabs can be screwed on and off, and by swapping the position of the 15-minute and 45-minute tabs, the bezel can also be used as a countdown bezel.

The crown and pushers have also been improved with an "onion" shape with vertical stripes to make them easier for pilots to operate even while wearing gloves.

It not only has a tachymeter to measure speed, but also a decimal meter to calculate time more precisely.

To prevent the watch from getting caught on your cuffs, the bracelet attachment part is curved to ensure it fits snugly on your wrist.

The new Chronomat

It is waterproof up to 100 meters and can withstand acceleration up to 20G.

The movement is the 17-jewel automatic chronograph movement Valjoux 7750.

The dial features Breitling's wing logo, which has been used since the 1980s.

This wing logo was an early version, and instead of an anchor mark in the center of the wing, it had the Breitling "B" and a wavy line below it representing the sea.

The case back is engraved with a motif of the Aermacchi MB-339A fighter plane used by the Frecce Tricolori, with Breitling's old logo below it.

New Chronomat Case Back

This chronograph was released to the general public the following year, in 1984, to commemorate Breitling's 100th anniversary, and was named "Chronomat."

This name has a different meaning than the original Chronomat.

Automatic ( Automatic )

It was a name that truly symbolized the revival of the automatic chronograph.

Thus, a new "Chronomat" was born, completely different from the original "Chronomat."

The birth of the Chronomat became a hot topic and created a backlash in the watch market, which was in the midst of a quartz boom.

The evolution of the Chronomat

Since the birth of the new Chronomat in 1984, the Chronomat has undergone minor changes over time and evolved into one of Breitling's most iconic watches.

Taking into account differences in case material, dial, bracelet, etc., there are over 1,000 variations, but we would like to look at some of the main ones.

1985 Chronomat Moonphase

Chronomat Moonphase

The moon phase version was released one year after the release of the new Chronomat.

This model also uses the Valjoux 7750 movement, and instead of a 12-hour counter, it has a 29-day moon phase at the 6 o'clock position.

This Chronomat Moonphase was produced in extremely limited numbers, making it a very valuable model.

1989 Chronomat Yachting

Chronomat Yachting

Until then, quartz was the mainstream in yachting watches, but the company introduced mechanical chronographs to the market.

The movement is a modified Valjoux 7750, with a 10-minute countdown timer replacing the 30-minute counter at the 12 o'clock position.

This model became popular among yacht enthusiasts who were looking for a mechanical rather than quartz watch.

1994 10th Anniversary Model

Chronomat 10th Anniversary Edition

The wing logo is made of 18k yellow gold, giving this model a luxurious feel.

Like the 1984 model, the case back is engraved with the motif of an Aermacchi MB-339A fighter plane.

1997 Chronomat GT/Vitez

Chronomat watches are divided into two categories based on the type of hour indexes.

The Chronomat GT has bar hour indexes.

Chronomat GT

It features three subdials with raised borders around them.

This feature was called "GT," an abbreviation of "Grand Totaliser," which means "large subdial" in French.

In contrast, the Chronomat Vitesse has Arabic numerals for the hour indexes.

Chronomat Vitesse

The italicized Arabic numerals are coated with tritium luminescent paint.

"Vitesse" means "speed" in French, and is also the name of a car racing stopwatch that Breitling made in the 1920s.

The hour indexes are printed in large italic font to create a sense of dynamic speed.

Minor changes common to the GT Vitesse include the tip of the chronograph hand being arrow-shaped and luminous, and the Arabic numerals on the sub-dial now being italic.

2000 Chronomat 2000

Chronomat 2000

The distinction between "GT" and "Vitez" was abolished, and the Chronomat 2000 adopted bar indexes for the hour indices.

The best feature is the chronometer certification of the movement.

Breitling succeeded in getting all of its movements chronometer-certified, and the Chronomat 2000 logo now reads "Chronometer" instead of "Chronomat."

The markers engraved into the bezel at five-minute intervals are now thicker and the font of the numbers on the rider tabs has been changed to make them easier to read.

The subdials are now surrounded by a thick, flat border, and the indexes are now arranged in a spiral on top of the border.

In 2002, a version with Arabic numerals for the hour indexes was also introduced.

From the birth of the new Chronomat, the case size was 39mm.

2004 Chronomat Evolution

Chronomat Evolution

Evolution means "evolution".

As the name suggests, 20 years have passed since the new Chronomat was released in 1984, and this model has undergone major changes.

The case size was 43.7mm, with a thickness of 17.1mm and a lug width of 22mm, which was significantly larger than the traditional 39mm case size and made the watch feel heavier.

The design has been completely revamped, with the straight case now being rounded, and the use of screw-down pushers has increased water resistance to 300 meters.

2009 Chronomat B01

2009 was a big year for Breitling.

Breitling's in-house chronograph movement, the B01, which cost US$50 million to develop, is finally complete.
Breitling B01 Movement

The B01 movement has 47 jewels, a 70-hour power reserve and 28,800 vibrations per hour, and is also chronometer certified.

The first model to feature this commemorative B01 movement is the Chronomat B01.

The arrangement of the subdials has been changed from the conventional 6, 9, 12 o'clock position to 3, 6, 9 o'clock.

Therefore, the date display was placed between 4 and 5 o'clock.

The bezel is now thicker and features spiral Arabic numerals engraved in 5-minute increments, the numbers on the rider tabs have been removed, and the protrusions have been reduced.

Chronomat B01

The case size is 43.5mm, the thickness is 17mm and it is water resistant to 500 meters.

You could choose between bar indexes and Roman numerals for the hour markers.

2014 Chronomat Airborne

Chronomat Airborne

The Chronomat Airborne was announced to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the new Chronomat.

It is equipped with the B01 movement, but the design is a return to its origins from 30 years ago.

The raised rider tabs and numerals have returned, and the engraved numerals on the bezel have been replaced with bar indexes with black rubber inlays.

The hour markers on the dial are painted with a cream-colored luminescent paint that gives off a patina (discoloration over time).

The case back features an embossed image of the Frecce Tricolori Aermacchi MB-339A fighter plane, along with the French inscription "30th Anniversary Special Edition."

The case sizes were 41mm and 44mm, and the dial was available in two colors: black and silver.

2020 Chronomat B01 42

Chronomat B01 42

The latest model is the Chronomat B01 with a case size of 42mm.

This model was also created with the new Chronomat, created by Schneider in 1984, in mind.

A major feature of this watch is the use of a Rouleaux bracelet, with matte links and polished links that connect smoothly, making the bracelet and case appear to be one.

Another major feature is the date display.

The date display at 4:30 has been removed and is now discreetly housed within the 12-hour counter at 6 o'clock.

The crown is onion-shaped, making it easy to grip.

The Breitling logo on the dial is a simple B logo.

Breitling has been using this B logo instead of its wing logo since Georges Kern took over as CEO in 2017.

The case back of the 1984 model also features this B logo engraved on it, making it the perfect tribute.