Breitling Chronomat: A Model of Success
The Chronomat is one of Breitling's blockbuster hits. Its distinctive design and robust construction have helped it achieve cult status. Top models feature chronometer-certified in-house calibers with chronograph and GMT functions.
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A Pilot's Watch With a Rich History
The Breitling Chronomat pilot's watch has over 70 years of history to look back on. Introduced in 1941, Breitling outfitted early Chronomats with a slide rule bezel – something now more closely associated with the company's all-time classic, the Navitimer. In fact, Breitling based the Navitimer on the original Chronomat. This highly functional bezel type also explains the collection's name, which combines the words "chronograph" and "mathematics."
The Swiss watch manufacturer launched the Chronomat as we know it today in 1984 as part of the company's 100th-anniversary celebration. Since then, the Chronomat's design has remained consistent. It still features an onion-shaped crown and four bezel rider tabs at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o'clock. These four raised tabs make operating the bezel a breeze, even with gloves on. They also help to protect the sapphire crystal from damage and improve the watch's overall readability. Breitling teamed up with pilots from the Italian Air Force's aerobatics team, the "313° Gruppo Addestramento Acrobatico" (also known as the "Frecce Tricolori" or "Tricolor Arrows"), to develop the new Chronomat.
Over the years, the Chronomat has evolved into a vast collection with everything from traditional pilot's chronographs to stylish dress watches. The cases measure between 32 and 44 mm in diameter, meaning there's something for every wrist size. You can also choose from editions in stainless steel, 18-karat rose gold, or a two-tone combination of materials.
Top models feature chronometer-certified in-house calibers with 70-hour power reserves. Breitling also produced watches with a GMT function or an improved water resistance of 500 m (50 bar, 1,640 ft) until 2019. Furthermore, the company regularly releases special editions in honor of famous aerobatic teams or their years-long partnership with British luxury car manufacturer Bentley.
Reasons to Buy a Chronomat
- A legendary and renowned pilot's watch
- Very precise: only COSC-certified movements since 2009
- In-house caliber B01 with a 70-hour power reserve
- Top models with a chronograph, GMT function, and water resistance to 500 m (1,640 ft)
- Available in stainless steel, gold, and two-tone
- Available in men's and women's sizes
Prices at a Glance: Breitling Chronomat
|Model, reference number||Price (approx.)||Size, material, caliber|
|Chronomat B01 42, RB0134101B1S1||17,000 USD||42 mm, rose gold, B01|
|Chronomat 44, CB011012/B968||11,500 USD||44 mm, two-tone, B01|
|Chronomat B01 42 Frecce Tricolori, AB01344A1C1A1||8,100 USD||42 mm, stainless steel, B01|
|Chronomat 44 Raven, MB0111C2/BD07/153S||7,600 USD||44 mm, stainless steel, B01|
|Chronomat Blacksteel GMT, MB041310/BC78||6,800 USD||47 mm, stainless steel, B04|
|Chronomat 41 Airborne, AB01442J/BD26||5,200 USD||41 mm, stainless steel, B01|
|Chronomat, 808||5,100 USD||37 mm, yellow gold, Venus 175|
|Chronomat Evolution, A13356||4,600 USD||44 mm, stainless steel, B13|
|Chronomat, 81950||1,900 USD||39 mm, two-tone, B13|
How much does a Chronomat cost?
Thanks to the Chronomat collection's long history, there are plenty of modern and vintage options on the market. Prices begin around 1,900 USD for watches from the 1980s and 90s. Chronographs from the early 2000s feature a modified Valjoux caliber 7750 and demand roughly 4,500 USD. If you're looking for something with the in-house caliber B01, be prepared to spend anywhere from 4,800 to 17,000 USD depending on the case material and year of production. Fans of vintage watches are sure to enjoy first-generation Chronomats with a slide rule function. You can find well-maintained examples from the 1950s and 60s for as little as 3,400 USD on Chrono24.
The 2020 Redesign: Back to the 80s
In spring 2020, Breitling presented a new line of Chronomat watches inspired by the model from 1984. Perhaps the most notable feature of these timepieces is the "Rouleaux" bracelet, which is integrated into the case and comprised of narrow, rounded links. Another detail carried over from the earlier Chronomat is the adjustable bezel rider tabs. The 15 and 45-minute tabs are held in place by screws and can swap places depending on whether you need a countdown or count-up function.
Chronographs with the in-house caliber B01 are the collection's top models. These watches measure 42 mm in diameter and are available in stainless steel, rose gold, and various two-tone combinations. You can also choose from different dial colors, such as anthracite, silver, black, blue, or green. Stainless steel Chronomat B01 41 watches demand about 6,900 USD. There are also special editions like the Chronomat B01 42 Frecce Tricolori. This timepiece is limited to a run of 250 pieces and changes hands for around 8,300 USD. Finally, models in 18-karat rose gold require an investment of approximately 17,000 USD.
The Chronomat With Three Hands
Breitling also offers the Chronomat as a three-hand watch. With cases measuring 32 or 36 mm in diameter, these timepieces make fantastic women's watches. These models clearly belong to the Chronomat family thanks to their Rouleaux bracelets and bezel rider tabs. However, the tabs are purely decorative, as both they and the bezel are stationary. Breitling outfits the 36-mm versions with the automatic caliber B10. This movement is based on the ETA 2892-A2 and comes with a date display at 6 o'clock and a 42-hour power reserve. The smaller models get their power from the SuperQuartz caliber Breitling 77.
Set aside around 3,600 USD for a stainless steel Chronomat 32. The larger Chronomat 36 will set you back about 4,000 USD. Prices for two-tone models come in at around 7,000 USD. Watches with rose gold cases and diamond-studded bezels occupy the top end of the price range, demanding upwards of 18,000 USD.
Chronomat 44: Water-Resistant to 500 m
The Swiss manufacturer ceased production of the Breitling Chronomat 44 in 2019. These timepieces are best suited to larger wrists thanks to their attention-grabbing 44-mm cases. Like the Chronomat from 1984, the 44-mm model also has four bezel rider tabs at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o'clock. Thanks to its sturdy case and screw-down crown, push-pieces, and case back, this chronograph is water-resistant to 500 m (50 bar, 1,640 ft). Moreover, it has a unidirectional bezel with a luminous marker at 12 o'clock, thus easily fulfilling all the requirements of a diving watch.
The Breitling Chronomat 44 is available in many different versions: stainless steel, stainless steel with solid gold bezel rider tabs, solid 18-karat gold, and stainless steel with a gold bezel. You can also choose from models with black, blue, silver, or gray dials. As for the band, the options are leather, rubber, or metal. Some models are worth more due to the presence of diamonds on the bezel and as indices. The domed sapphire glass features an anti-reflective coating on both sides.
Newer models outfitted with the in-house caliber B01 feature a 30-minute counter at 3, a 12-hour counter at 6, and a small seconds subdial at 9 o'clock. There's also a date display between 4 and 5 o'clock. Older models powered by the chronograph caliber B13 display the date at 3 o'clock. This movement is based on the Valjoux 7750 and has a 42-hour power reserve. You can also recognize these watches by the 12-hour counter at 6 o'clock, small seconds at 9, and the 30-minute counter at 12.
Prices for a Chronomat 44 begin around 4,600 USD for a stainless steel watch with the Valjoux caliber 7750. Stainless steel timepieces with the in-house caliber B01 cost roughly 240 USD more. Two-tone editions sell for between 7,300 and 11,000 USD, while those with solid gold cases demand about 18,000 USD.
Chronomat Evolution and Blackbird
The Breitling Chronomat Evolution was in production until 2007. It is the direct predecessor of the Chronomat 44; however, its bezel is markedly different. Numerals only appear on its four rider tabs, while the rest of the bezel's minutes are marked by line indices. The caliber B13 (based on the Valjoux 7750) powers this model. You can purchase one of these watches for anywhere from 4,500 to 7,500 USD, depending on if you choose a stainless steel or two-tone model.
Chronomat Blackbird watches get their name from the world's fastest manned airbreathing aircraft, the Lockheed SR-71 "Blackbird." This model underscores Breitling's connection to aeronautics. Timepieces from the 2000s stand out with their large date windows at 12 o'clock and compass bezels. That latter feature enables the wearer to determine what direction they're facing. The caliber 44, based on the ETA 2892, ticks away inside this timepiece and has a 42-hour power reserve. Blackbird models from this era demand around 5,200 USD on Chrono24.
The first Blackbird generation debuted in the mid-1990s. These models lack an over-sized date, and their bezels also feature a conventional minute scale instead of a compass. The Breitling caliber 13 powers these watches. These early Blackbirds have satin-brushed cases and matte dials. On the other hand, standard Chronomats have polished cases. These older Blackbird models change hands for about 4,100 USD in mint condition.
Chronomat 41: The Universal Pilot's Watch
If the 44-mm Breitling Chronomat is too large for your taste, you may prefer the 41-mm edition. This smaller model is available in stainless steel, solid gold, or stainless steel with a gold bezel. You can also find versions with diamond-studded bezels and diamond indices. Unlike its larger sibling, which is water-resistant to 500 m (50 bar, 1,640 ft), the 41-mm version is only water-resistant to a maximum of 300 m (30 bar, 984 ft). However, its dial and band options are just as extensive as the Chronomat 44's. Inside the case, you'll find the in-house caliber B01.
Be sure to have about 7,600 USD on hand for a stainless steel Chronomat 41. Two-tone watches with an 18-karat gold bezel cost roughly 8,100 USD. At 5,100 USD, the Chronomat 44 Airborne from 2014 is a more affordable alternative. It has the same technology as its sister models but bears a stronger resemblance to watches from the 1980s.
The Chronomat in Black
The Breitling Chronomat collection also contained a few black watches until late 2019, including the Chronomat 44 Raven and the Blacksteel models. One highlight is the Chronomat GMT Blacksteel. It gets its power from the in-house caliber B04, which provides it with chronograph and GMT functions. The 47-mm stainless steel case has a matte black satin-brushed finish, while the indices and hour and minute hands are anthracite colored. The red chronograph seconds hand, tip of the GMT hand, and three small subdial hands add a splash of color to this otherwise monotone timepiece. Paired with a black rubber strap, this pilot's chronograph is at home on any stealth mission. Expect prices of around 6,800 USD.
The Blacksteel is also available without a second time zone. The caliber B01 ticks away inside this chronograph-only version. Otherwise, its design is similar to the GMT edition except for its subdials, which are square instead of round. You can all a Blacksteel chronograph your own for about 6,600 USD. If you're looking for something a bit more colorful, you may enjoy the model with a yellow dial. The Chronomat 44 Blacksteel Special Edition is worn on a black rubber strap that is yellow on the wrist-facing side. Prices for never-worn examples sit around 7,400 USD.
Chronomat 44 Raven
The Raven is yet another black watch in the Chronomat collection. Unlike the Blacksteel, the Raven tends to include colorful accents. The numerals on the bezel, the three subdial hands, the chronographs seconds hand, and the dial's edge are all bright orange. The black winding rotor with orange inscriptions is another nice touch and can be viewed through the sapphire crystal case back.
Inside the Chronomat 44 Raven, you will also find the caliber B01 at work. A black rubber strap makes sure the watch stays securely on your wrist. This timepiece demands roughly 7,600 USD.
The 38-mm Chronomat
At 38 mm in diameter, the Chronomat 38 fits best on smaller wrists. Its smooth, glossy, tungsten carbide bezel emphasizes the overall feminine design. Tungsten carbide is also especially sturdy, making scratched-up bezels a thing of the past. The Chronomat 38 is only available in stainless steel with either a plain or diamond-studded bezel. Breitling offers the dial in black as well as mother-of-pearl. The mother-of-pearl dial is available with or without diamond indices. Like the larger models, the Chronomat 38 has the option of a leather or rubber strap or a stainless steel bracelet.
The Breitling caliber 13 ticks inside this watch. It's based on ETA's Valjoux 7750, one of the most successful automatic chronograph calibers in the world. Breitling's automatic caliber has a power reserve of 42 hours, 25 rubies, and can measure time in increments of one-eighth of a second. Breitling has had the caliber certified by the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute, which guarantees its accuracy and precision.
The Chronomat 38 with a polished bezel can be yours for around 4,300 USD. The same watch with a diamond bezel will set you back about 6,500 USD.
Prices for Vintage Models
Fans of vintage watches will find Chronomat models with slide rule bezels particularly interesting. These include timepieces like the reference 808, which first appeared in the late 1950s. Prices for these watches fall between 3,300 and 5,100 USD.
Models from the 1980s with the reference number 81950 would also complement any vintage watch collection. Breitling's caliber 13 powers these watches. Pieces with a so-called "Rouleaux" bracelet are especially authentic. You can purchase a pre-owned Chronomat ref. 81950 for around 1,900 USD.