Having re-launched the Chronomat collection this time last year (with 32, 36, and 42mm models), Breitling is now following up with the full-fat option, the new Replica Breitling Super Chronomat in a whopping 44mm case. That new size spans several new versions, including one with the UTC module bracelet, a version in 18k red gold, and a pair of references using Breitling’s uncommon Four-Year Calendar.
The physical manifestation of “large and in-charge”, the new Super Chronomat is classic Breitling and a knowing nod to the brand’s long-standing dominance in the world of super-sized pilot’s chronographs.
For Breitling, tool watches are a core competency. And I think they are at their best when the brand isn’t afraid to be itself, with bold displays, bright colors, polished surfaces, baroque crowns, rider tabs, ana-digi layouts, and distinctive high-quality bracelets. The results don’t always fit my wrist, but the brand has an incredible history in sport watches and the return of the Chronomat speaks not to their postmodern legacy, but to something more modern.
Born in 1984, the original Breitling Chronomat was a 39mm tribute to the era’s fascination with fast-flying jet aircraft. Based on a design created in 1983 for the Italian Jet Team Frecce Tricolori, the Chronomat spoke to the era of Top Gun (1986) and when the Blue Angels started flying the McDonnel Douglas F/A-18 Hornet (also 1986).
As a boy born in this era (also 1986), the peak of my social calendar was attending air shows – and some of my earliest memories of cool watches were imprinted on the grounds of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. Funky Citizens, stoic Seikos, plenty of Rolex, and, of course, big brash Breitlings.
New for 2021, the Super Chronomat takes that original ’80s design and lights the afterburner. Versions available include the Super Chronomat B01 44 in black or blue (you can pick rubber, steel, or steel with the super rad UTC module), the B01 chrono in 18k red gold with a brown dial and bezel (again, your choice of bracelet or rubber), and the Super Chronomat 44 Four-Year Calendar in either black or blue/two-tone (same option of rubber or steel).
The pure chronographs (which have B01 in their name) are 44mm wide, 14.45mm thick, have display case backs, 200 meters of water resistance, and house Breitling’s B01 automatic COSC-certified chronograph movement with a column wheel and a vertical clutch. The bezels use ceramic inserts (the first time on a Chronomat) and the rider tabs at three and nine are swappable, allowing the bezel to be used for elapsed time or count down (this is a feature common to the original Chronomat).
As for the Breitling Super Chronomat Four-Year Calendar, sizing remains at 44mm but thickness is up a hair to 14.55mm. Water-resistance is down to 100 meters, and this calendar-packed Chronomat uses Breitling’s Caliber 19 movement. Based on an ETA 2892-A2, the Caliber 19 has been seen in several past models from Breitling and it uses a module to offer not only a chronograph but also a calendar movement that accounts for everything except leap year.
As with most complicated calendars (especially those packed into sport watches), there’s a lot going on in terms of dial design, and most of the sub-dials are running double duty to keep track of both a 12-hour chronograph measure and day, date, month, and moon phase. It’s an uncommon calendar execution, but I get the appeal, offering most of a perpetual calendar without all of the cost. To be clear, the Caliber 19 (which is sometimes identified by Breitling as the 1461) is not an annual calendar (which requires adjustment… annually). Rather, as the name suggests, the Four-Year Calendar would only need to be adjusted for Feb 29th.
Functionality aside, while I know that the 44mm sizing will be too big for my tastes (I will forever be more of a 40mm Aerospace kind of guy) the Breitling Super Chronomat looks good, but more importantly, it looks like a proper big Breitling.
Priced from $8,500 (topping out at $35,000 for the 18k gold on a bracelet), the new Super Chronomat offers a specific appeal to a specific type of buyer who wants a big, luxurious, well-made chronograph – and watches like the Chronomat (Super or otherwise) help to maintain Breitling’s competition with brands like IWC and Omega.