The Breitling Six Nations Rugby Championship returns this weekend! To celebrate Breitling’s second year as the event’s timing partner is a sextet of Breitling Chronomat B01 42 watches. Each watch reflects each nation that takes part in the Six Nations tournament — England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Italy, and France. While the underlying platform of the Chronomat remains the same as the 42mm model from 2020, the new team shades can demonstrate national pride or an outside interest in the sport.
I was never adept at football (soccer for the Americans). I needed to catch up with the speed and technical precision of dribbling and trick shots. However, I found my forte with rugby. After an initial growth spurt, I was assigned to the second row, typically the tallest players on a rugby union team. When others in the group caught up and surpassed my height, I was moved to the first row and played as a prop forward. It was tough on the neck and shoulders, especially during the scrums, but some of my best school and college days were spent training and playing rugby. While I enjoy watching football, I get heavily into rugby matches and involuntarily yell out at players for moves and throws. This happens so often that I find it too stressful to watch important deciding rugby games, more so than with football.
Breitling Chronomat B01 42 Six Nations
When the Six Nations Championship comes around, I can’t help but root for England. The annual tournament comprises the original home nations — England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland (representing the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland) — plus France and Italy. To kick off the 2023 tournament, Breitling unveils six representative Chronomats color-coded to each country’s team logos. The Chronomat is one of Breitling’s iconic collections and is highly versatile. The collection was the first to receive the Breitling manufacture B01 movement in 2009, which still powers it today. With its triple-sub-dial layout, the balanced dial lends itself to embellishment and variations. Without cheating and checking the flag and name of the union on the case back, I had a go at guessing the nations based on the dial shades. England was evident as it almost resembles England’s national Saint George’s Cross flag. Wales was straightforward, thanks to the deep burgundy reflecting the red dragon on the Welsh flag. Ireland is often known as the “Emerald Isle” thanks to its lush green landscape, so the green was a giveaway. But then there are three blue dials. Scotland’s national flag is blue and white, whereas the French Tricolore flag includes red, so it was easy to discern these two. That, by default, left Italy, although the particular blue is Azzurri (“light blue”), which stems from the House of Savoy, Italy’s former ruling family.
The choice may come down to national pride, but if I were neutral, the Six Nations Italy Chronomat would be my choice. However, Italy is often the least successful team in the Six Nations tournament, in contrast to the country’s football success. Nevertheless, the light blue dial with red-tipped hands and stylish Tricolore flag in the running seconds sub-dial is a real treat. The Italy model also has a vertically brushed finish on the main dial. While the England and Ireland references share this motif, the light blue accentuates the dial texture. Other than the dial, each union’s logo is printed on the sapphire window of the case back. On paper, it sounds like the cardinal sin of blocking the view of a transparent exhibition window, à la Grand Seiko’s lion. However, the logo only occupies the view of the automatic rotor’s central pinion.
Running the circumference of the case back ring is the chronometer certification and the “One of 150” statement. Unfortunately, finding number one in the dealer or boutique window doesn’t mean that you’re lucky. Each edition has “One of 150” rather than a unique number. This standard engraving is a constant bugbear of mine, but Breitling has been engraving this way for long enough that I have given up the fight. That said, I still yearn for unique numbers on limited editions from Breitling and other guilty parties in the future. Besides the color touches and treatments to the dial, the Chronomat remains the same as the revised version launched in 2020. I bought one that year and am still enamored with its style. Luckily, these latest models don’t instill buyer’s remorse since the key instigator for buying the Frecce Tricolori model was its ton-sur-ton blue dial and all-chromium hands.
While the Italian and Ireland models come close to being my favorites, it can’t shake my love for the Frecce Tricolori model. That particular model’s vintage counterpart was also the forebear of the modern Chronomat in 1983. Yet the new dial finishes make the Italian and Irish models exceptionally appealing. I particularly like the Azzurri shade of blue, but the Irish version also has white-tipped chronograph hands that blend with the sub-dials. In any case, these are six attractive watch choices for rugby fans and national patriots. Others may feel excluded, but the logos are subtle enough for owners not to need a particular allegiance to the team or sport. With these dial colors and textures, the watches stand independently as collectible pieces. Each edition will have 150 pieces available, meaning that collectors can seek these variations.
We witness a scrum to obtain certain limited-edition Breitling watches, such as the Deus. But I am yet to see the same enthusiasm regarding the modern Chronomat. It would also be interesting to see the Venn diagram of rugby fans buying a limited-edition Breitling to cement their passion. The same goes for patriotism in demonstrating your country’s team flag on an expensive wristwatch. Hopefully, we will see, but thanks to the rifle-shell Rouleaux bracelet, bullet-tip screw-down crown, rider tabs, and general rugged aesthetic, the Breitling Chronomat B01 42 Six Nations is still a rock-solid watch.