The Breitling Chronomat line got a major re-boot last April, when the company launched a whole range of new models in a redesign that manages to look both closer to vintage watch designs, and at the same time, more modern than the standard Chronomat line – a thorough but respectful revision, which included more discreet rider tabs, and a very comfortable, and terrific-looking, rouleaux bracelet. At launch, the new Chronomat collection consisted of a range of 42mm chronometer-rated chronographs, and this week, Breitling announced that it would be launching two smaller time-and-date models as well. These are called, simply, the Chronomat 38mm and 32mm models, and Breitling’s marketing them as ladies’ watches.
The 38mm and 36mm models will be offered in a quite wide range of dial colors and metals, with diamond indexes alone on some models, and diamond indexes and diamond-set bezels on others. Full-gold versions are available as well, and also mixed gold and steel models. There are a total of ten new 36mm watches, all using the Breitling Caliber B10 (ETA 2892 base, chronometer-rated by the COSC), and prices range from $ 4,860 to $ 25,650 for the full gold-on-gold model. The 32mm models are powered by the Breitling Caliber 11 Superquartz movement (thermocompensated), and prices range from $ 3,800 to $ 20,500 for the full-gold model. Case dimensions for the 36mm models are 36mm x 10.01mm and for the 32mm models, 32mm x 8.54mm.
Breitling has a long-standing and well-deserved reputation as a maker of technical aviation watches and chronographs, but there has been, in recent years, a bit of a gap in its collections, in terms of smaller-sized, daily-wearable, time-and-date watches, which these new additions to the Chronomat collection fill very nicely. On the strengths of the initial press images (all these images were provided by Breitling, and it’s terrific to see a brand take such care with its product photography – it is surprising how often we get announcements of watches that cost thousands of dollars on which pennies appear to have been spent on photos; a poor economy if you’re trying to market a luxury product, if you ask me.) The watches look as if they ought to be very appealing in person – they share the rouleaux bracelet introduced in April for the chronograph models, as well as the (in)famous rider tabs on the bezels, as well as the onion crown. They’re recognizably Chronomats, but these designs manage to be both distinctive and to look as if they will age very well; I doubt that these are watches that will look dated ten or twenty (or more) years down the road.
Breitling has put together a powerhouse trio of women for the launch video (which is live on Breitling.com right now) – Charlize Theron, ballet dancer Misty Copeland, who was promoted to principal dancer at ABT in 2015 (becoming the first African-American dancer to hold the rank in ABT’s history), and Chinese actor Yao Chen (whose work may not be as familiar to American or European audiences, but who’s a superstar in the Far East; she was named one of the most influential 100 people in the world, by Time, in 2014). It’s as blue-chip a group of wide-appeal brand ambassadors as you could want (I haven’t seen Yao Chen’s work, but Theron is one of our great actors, of course, and if you are not a balletomane, watching one of Copeland’s performances will turn you into one), but I also think that some of these watches have the potential to become enthusiast favorites as well as appeal to a broader audience.
The colored-dial 36mm models, for example, have a lot of enthusiast appeal at an extremely reasonable price, and the use of chronometer-grade ETA calibers means servicing those watches down the road has the potential to offer fewer headaches than you might find in servicing watches with less easily available parts. Personally, I wouldn’t mind getting my mitts on the steel model with a blue or green dial, as well as the two-tone models; they look pretty darned sharp in the images, and Breitling’s been leaning pretty hard into overdelivering on general build quality (I’m a big fan of the rouleaux bracelets, which are really solidly made, and extremely comfortable).
The watches are all available online and at Breitling physical points of sale as well, except for the solid gold models which are boutique-only.
Model: Chronomat 36mm and Chronomat 32mm
Dimensions: 36mm x 10.01mm/32mm x 8.54mm
Case Material: Steel; two-tone steel and red gold; red gold; some models with diamond-set bezels
Dial Color: White, copper, blue, green for the 36mm models; white and green only for the 32mm models
Indexes: Applied, with lume; some models with additional diamond markers
Lume: Super-LumiNova on hands, indexes
Water Resistance: Both models, 100 meters, with non-screw-down, double-gasket crowns
Strap/Bracelet: Rouleaux link bracelets, in steel, steel and red gold, or solid red gold
Caliber: 36mm models, Breitling caliber 10 COSC certified (base ETA 2892); 32mm models, Breitling caliber 77, thermocompensated SuperQuartz
Functions: Time and date with center seconds
Power Reserve: Automatic caliber 10, 42 hours, running at 28,800 vph in 31 jewels
Pricing & Availability
Price: 36mm models: steel, $ 4,860; steel and diamond indexes, $ 5,650; steel and gold, $ 8,200; steel with diamond indexes and diamond bezel, $ 8,650; steel and gold with gold bezel, diamond indexes, and diamond-set bezel, $ 11,750; full-gold case and bracelet, $ 26,650. 32mm models: steel, $ 3,800; steel with diamond indexes, $ 4,325; steel and gold, $ 6,700; steel with diamond indexes and bezel, $ 7,175; steel and gold with diamond indexes and gold diamond-set bezel, $ 9,825; full-gold case and bracelet, $ 20,500.
Availability: Online and at Breitling boutiques and retailers
See the entire Chronomat collection at Breitling.com.