With the Breitling Super Chronomat, Breitling revives a model from the 1980s – including a roller bracelet with an integrated GMT module. We give it a hands-on test in this feature from the WatchTime archives.
When it comes to mechanical watches that were introduced in the ’80s, not that many models are still remembered today. But Breitling Chronomat is one of the most memorable. With screwed-on cursors atop its bezel, a semicircular crown and a distinctive roller bracelet with optional integrated GMT module, it harmonized with the spirit of the times while simultaneously standing out from the crowd.
The Breitling Super Chronomat lived on at Breitling as a line of watches, but they were visually adapted to keep pace with the changing zeitgeist. The manufacture revived many features of the original design with the premiere of the revised Chronomat in 2020. Breitling followed suit in 2021 with the premiere of the 44-mm Super Chronomat, our test watch, which also resurrects the little GMT quartz watch in the bracelet. Rather than merely resuscitating a historical chronograph, Breitling has adapted and updated it for the present, thus cultivating a style that the brand’s boss Georges Kern likes to call “modern retro.” This is particularly noticeable in the more striking styling of the case, the modern black ceramic bezel and the timeless design of the dial.
The steel case completely abandons the roundness of the original ‘80s design. It has a satin finish with glossy polished edges and an attached crown protector, which, like the case, also shows profiled lines and alternating matte and shiny surfaces. The fluted crown and the push-pieces recall the original, and the winding crown is slightly domed. Two new details: the chronograph’s buttons are screwed down and are partly made of black ceramic. This same scratch-resistant high-tech material is used for the calibrated scale of the rotating bezel and for the inlays in the bezel’s cursors. Otherwise, the rotating bezel and the distinctive bracelet are the two features that most clearly refer to the original model. The historical reference is further affirmed by 12 characteristic non-recessed screws along the bezel’s rim and four attached cursors atop the bezel to mark 0, 15, 30 and 45 minutes.
As on the original models, the two markers for 15 and 45 can be interchanged to create a countdown scale. Incidentally, the edges of the cursors are less sharp than they were in the past. The bezel can be rotated in one direction only, so this pilots’ watch is also suitable for divers — and all the more so because its robust case resists pressure to a depth of 200 meters. The zero index on the bezel glows in the dark, as do the numerals 15, 30 and 45: these practical features enhance nighttime legibility.
The dial’s design preserves the ‘80s-style baton-shaped hour indexes and the sharp tips on the hands, while the flange remains faithful to the original with its tachymeter scale and hundredths calibration. The hands and indexes now have larger polished surfaces for a more elegant look. The subdials are highlighted in silver and partially decora-ted with concentric grooves. The elapsed-seconds hand looks quite sporty thanks to its red color. Unfortunately, the small silver hands don’t contrast very boldly against the silver background of the subdials, which makes these little indicators somewhat difficult to read, although luminous material on the hands improves their legibility in the dark. Breitling symmetrically and unobtrusively integrated the date display into the elapsed-hours counter at the 6. The GMT module is not particularly large, but it’s big enough to be read quite well by day and by night. The module’s trapezoidal supportive plate and the 5-minute calibrations on the scale along the wide bezel are also reminiscent of the original model.
Breitling Super Chronomat also has all its movements tested for chronometer-worthy accuracy. Our timing machine accordingly measured good values: deviations among the several positions remained between +1 and +5 seconds per day; the calculated average daily deviation was a pleasingly low 3.8 seconds; and the balance’s amplitude declined only slightly when the chronograph was switched on. In fact, wearing this model with the stopwatch running slightly improves the accuracy so that the watch keeps time with a very small gain of just 3 seconds per day.
Our test watch is technically and visually convincing despite — or perhaps because of – its combination of retro and modern elements. The Super Chronomat is a bit like the Bentley of the watch world: stately, as sporty as it is elegant, meticulously crafted and, with the GMT module, endearingly quirky.