Breitling revived the classic 1984 version of the Chronomat just last year, right down to the signature Rouleaux bracelet. Now the brand ups the ante with the introduction of the Super Chronomat, a larger, 44 mm watch that’s available in two guises: the B01 chronograph and more interestingly, a chronograph combined with the “1461” four-year calendar that was once a signature complication for Breitling.
At a time where brands are downsizing their best known designs, the Breitling Super Chronomat bucks the trend. Bigger and bolder than its smaller sibling, the Chronomat “is a watch you’ll get noticed in without having to worry about it” says Breitling chief executive Georges Kern in the launch announcement. I’m inclined to agree – the new Super Chronomat definitely makes a statement.
With the distinctive Rouleaux bracelet and oversized pushers, the Super Chronomat possesses a temerity in design that is reminiscent of Breitling in the mid 2000s when the brand favoured excessive sizing, but packaged in a modern manner. That said, the new Super Chronomat collection has a cool 1980s vibe as well, particularly with the UTC module that’s an option on the Super Chronomat B01.
Then there’s the Super Chronomat 44 Four-Year Calendar, which features a semi-perpetual calendar. Formerly the flagship complication for Breitling, the calendar is known as the 1461 after the number of days in four years. Both useful and affordable, the complication was missing from Breitling’s catalogue for some time, so I’m heartened to see its return.
Along with the recently-launched Datora (which boasts a chronograph and triple calendar) and the split-second Duograph, the Super Chronomat 44 Four-Year Calendar reflects the brand’s progression towards complicated timepieces, and I’m all for it.
Starting at US$8,500 for the B01 chronograph on a rubber strap, the new Chronomat chronograph is slightly pricier than the smaller model, though not by much.
The Super Chronomat 44 Four-Year Calendar costs US$14,600 on a strap, which is fair value given the combined calendar and chronograph functions, though its affordability is largely due to the modular ETA movement within.
A facelift of the smaller Chronomat model, the Breitling Super Chronomat B01 44 is essentially the same watch in a larger format with more aggressive styling. Still fitted with the trademark “rider” tabs at the quarters, the bezel now features a ceramic insert that’s virtually scratch-resistant.
All models in the Super Chronomat collection are available on either the Rouleaux (or “roller”) bracelet or a Rouleaux-inspired rubber strap. Moulded to have a tri-texture finish, the rubber strap has a three-dimensional front that is meant to evoke the namesake bracelet.
The Breitling Super Chronomat B01 is powered by the Caliber 01, Breitling’s in-house movement found in the brand’s higher-end chronographs, including the flagship Navitimer. Not only does it boast a handy 70-hour power reserve, it is also a finely constructed movement that features both a column wheel and vertical clutch.
The Super Chronomat is available in stainless steel with either a blue or black dial, or in 18k red gold with a brown dial. The 18k red gold version is admittedly eye-catching, but it is expensive and not quite a “tool” watch.
Amongst the three, my pick would probably be the black dial variant with the UTC module. The aviation-instrument roots of the Chronomat are best reflected in the black dial chronograph, with the nifty Universal Time Coordinated (UTC) module in the bracelet that can track a second time zone.
Debuted in the mid 1980s, the UTC module is essentially a simple quartz movement within an enlarger bracelet link. Now costing an extra CHF1,200, the module is a surprisingly expensive option for what it is, but it’s a novel, retro extra.
It should be noted that the UTC module is only available with the black dial model, at least for now. Given that Breitling once offered it as an option for most of its watches, it won’t be surprising if that is the case in the near future.
The more interesting of the two new models is the Super Chronomat 44 Four-Year Calendar. A semi-perpetual calendar (and also known as a quadrennial calendar), the calendar only needs adjustment during a leap year, or once every four years.
In terms of complexity, it sits between the simpler annual calendar (which needs to be once a year) and a perpetual calendar (which only requires manual intervention once every 100 years, or 1,000 years in some cases).
With a traditional and symmetrical four sub-dial layout, the dial features day, date, and month displays along with a moon phase, in addition to the chronograph registers. Despite the amount of information presented, the dial remains mostly legible.
The quadrennial calendar Chronomat is available in steel with a black dial, or a two-tone variant with a blue dial.
Between the two, I would definitely opt for the black dial – its utilitarian look feels more in keeping with Breitling’s spirit. Like its B01 chronograph sibling, its bezel also has a ceramic insert, though dressed up with 18k red gold tabs.
Beneath the hood is the Caliber 19, which is essentially an ETA 2892 with twin modules on top, one a Dubois Dépraz chronograph module and the other the in-house “1461” module. The movement is COSC-certified and has a 42-hour power reserve.