Breitling’s Chronomat was relaunched in 2020 and quickly became one of the most integral parts of the Breitling brand. From the brand’s large 44mm chronograph offerings down to the small 32mm ladies’ models, Breitling has built up a solid lineup of Chronomats to choose from. But the collection has always jumped from 42mm to 36mm with nothing in between. That is, until today. The new 40mm Breitling Chronomat Automatic GMT fills a gap in the collection in more ways than one. First, it brings a more reasonable size with a new 40mm diameter, 11.77mm thick, 47.4mm lug-to-lug stainless steel watch. You get all the standard Chronomat styling, including the classic “onion” crown and rouleaux bracelet, along with 200m water resistance worthy of a sports watch you can take from the air to the sea with ease. The second new addition is the inclusion of Breitling’s Caliber 32 GMT movement, a “caller” with an independently set GMT hand that was previously built off the workhorse ETA 2893-2 movement, plus added refinements and finishing. Previously, the Chronomat lineup featured only three-hand watches and giant chronographs, but no longer. The Caliber 32 movement provides approximately 42 hours of power reserve to fuel the GMT, hours, minutes, seconds, and date functions on the watch. Breitling’s Chronomat Automatic GMT 40 comes in five color options: black, blue, green, white, and anthracite. Each of these dials features a “tone-on-tone” 24-hour scale, matching the dial to the rehaut instead of going for a multi-color bezel. Breitling believes this increases legibility, letting the red GMT stand out.
I’ve had mixed feelings in the past about Breitling’s Chronomats. While apparently sales hits for the brand, the chronographs always wore too large to me. The vintage Chronomats, a kind of cult classic, often feel a bit “janky” for lack of a better term, from the bracelet to the bezels. All that made me unable to separate the vintage and very anachronistic vibe of the watches – especially the rouleaux bracelet and crown – from the modernized direction Breitling was taking the collection. Here, we see that new direction in full force: elegance, comfort, and sportiness, with good build quality in a design language that is quintessentially Breitling. And to top it off, a competitive price point I expect we will see more of in the future. Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised – of course, there would be improvements over time and these modern bracelets would have better tolerances and less flex – but the first thing I noticed was how well the watch wore, from the comfortable bracelet to the slimmed-down and more wearable case. There’s a reason so many Rolex GMT-Master II owners have embraced jubilee bracelets over the “classic” oyster bracelet. In the same way, the shorter distance between links allows the bracelet to wrap well around your wrist.
I’m a bracelet geek but I’d imagine that the sunray-esque dials will be the stars of the show for most potential buyers. The iridescent sheen, especially the blue and green, is captivating (and, if you’re buying watches and hoping to photograph them, frustratingly reflective). The blue dial goes very deep blue, almost black in a darkened environment, and then pops to life with any splash of light. No matter the locale, the green is dramatic and eye-catching. The sleeper hit might be the anthracite grey dial, which blends in well with the case and picks up a bit of warmth and brown tones from the light in an environment. The white and black dials didn’t get much mention (or photo time, apologies) because while solid options, the comparatively matte finish didn’t garner as much attention from me in my short time, hands-on.
The simplified placement of the 24-hour markers on the rehaut is a nice touch. For all the good a GMT does, I don’t find a big difference in my day-to-day life between catching the time at a glance and spending five seconds looking more closely for a second time zone. And not that the general population takes issue with wearing sport watches in more formal environments, but the lack of bulky bezel with any colors or numbers adds a certain level of elegance.
There’s not a ton to say about the movement, based on the ETA 2893-2, which is pretty standard across the industry. I will say, the more I actively review GMTs and pay attention to specifications, the more it surprises me that there aren’t more “flyer” GMT movements on the market. With the introduction of the ETA caliber C07.661 and Miyota 9075, I’m hopeful we’ll see more brands switch away from the 2893-2 in future iterations. That said, this is pretty standard and should be reliable, albeit with a 42 hour power reserve that might be a point of contention for some buyers.
All of this feels like a very cognizant and measured decision from Breitling, taking the opportunity to highlight a collection with one of the purest throughlines of modern Breitling DNA with a new option that is both eye-catching and even more wearable and versatile than before.