The name Chronomat is quite a significant one for Breitling. It initially stood for ‘Chronographe Mathematique’ in the legendary 1940s ancestor of the Navitimer. But the modern-day Chronomat was born in the 1980s, at a time the Swiss mechanical watch industry was going through unprecedented levels of turmoil brought about by the advent of the inexpensive yet precise quartz technology. Even as the industry was faltering in the aftermath of the so-called quartz crisis, in 1983 Italy’s national aerobatics team, the Frecce Tricolori, partnered with Breitling to produce a mechanical watch that would be “tough enough for the cockpit, yet elegant enough to be worn off duty”. The chronograph ‘Frecce Tricolori’ paved the way for the 1984 Breitling Chronomat Ref. 81950, but here the name was used as a portmanteau of chronograph and automatic.
Relaunched in 2020, the Chronomat is one of the bestselling models in the Swiss watchmaker’s line-up. However, comprising burly 44 mm chronographs at one end and modest 32 mm three-hands models at the other end, the range had nothing for those looking for watches sized in between. Breitling has filled this size gap in the model line now with the introduction of the Chronomat Automatic GMT 40 and Super Chronomat Automatic 38, two case sizes that would suit most wrist sizes.
However, it’s not just the size that makes these new releases interesting. The Chronomat Automatic GMT 40 ditches the chronograph found on larger models in favour of a dual-time-zone complication and a much cleaner design, while the Super Chronomat Automatic 38 series features a diamond-studded bezel. “With this release, we’re rewriting the definitions of the Chronomat and Super Chronomat and giving these pieces a character all of their own,” said Breitling CEO Georges Kern. “But, then again, this is a collection already known for pushing boundaries.”
Breitling is positioning the Chronomat Automatic GMT 40 as the ideal timepiece for those planning to make the most of the post-Covid surge in global air travel. The watchmaker is confident that the dual-time-zone display and the simple aesthetics will appeal to a large number of watch and travel enthusiasts. The GMT watch is offered in 5 dial colours – black, blue, green, anthracite, and white, all cased in stainless steel and paired with a matching steel bracelet. Powered by the Caliber 32, the GMT complication’s 24-hour scale lets the user track a second time zone and tell if it’s day or night. True to its all-purpose watch credentials, the GMT 40 is water resistant to 200 metres.
The Super Chronomat Automatic 38 meanwhile stands out from the rest of the line-up with its ceramic rider tabs and crown, the exclusive rubber rouleaux strap, and of course the bezel that is decked out in oversized lab-grown diamonds. Available with 18-carat red gold or stainless-steel bezel, it comes with three dial colour options – silver, mint green, and ice blue. Apart from the rubber strap, buyers also get to choose between a polished metal rouleaux bracelet or an alligator leather strap.
The Chronomat Automatic GMT 40 retails in South Africa for R107,000, while the Super Chronomat Automatic 38 prices range between R180,000 and R370,000.