Breitling has, over the years, produced numerous models that justify praise. The Swiss company has a long-standing rapport with the aerospace industry and has always strived to produce some of the most incredible pilot watches. The company’s catchphrase is: "instruments for professionals", but unlike other companies that use such vacuous phrases devoid of any substance whatsoever, Breitling has managed to legitimately employ the words. However, in spite of having a successful collection of watches in its catalog, the company manufactured another line of watches for pilots: the Chronomat. The Chronomat 41 series, which was launched back in 1952, features a unique slide rule gadget that performs calculations. The idea was conceived to suit pilots, proving quite helpful when some flight plans required arithmetic calculations. With time, it became the official watch of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) – the world’s largest community of pilots.
Ernest Schneider, the owner of Breitling, heard that the Italian Air force Aerobatics team, Frecce Tricolori, had invited tenders from willing suppliers for its official watch in the early 1980s. Thus, Schneider decided to create a new chronograph that had been customized to the needs of the flight professional. Every minute aspect of the design was distilled to absolute perfection. The brand worked with the squadron to make sure that the end product was legible, easy to operate, and offered comfort to the wearer. In 1983, these efforts were rewarded once it was chosen to offer the official Frecce Tricolori watches. A legend was henceforth born. Breitling, in 1984, celebrated its anniversary and launched the mainstream Chronomat series for sale to the public. The collection has, over the years, cemented its place as one of the most commercially successful brands, and it is easy to understand why. The Chronomat 41 series shows a sturdy mien with an abundance of style. The aesthetics are not only functional but also very attractive. Additionally, the watch has always been synonymous for legibility given its peerless anti-reflective treatment applied on either side of the crystal and its user-friendly layout. Ease of read-off is a guarantee. This year, the company will be celebrating the Chronomat 41 series’ 30th anniversary by launching a very special model: the Breitling Chronomat Airborne Series, which features the brand’s Manufacture Breitling Caliber 01. The new model under the Chronomat 41 series will be available in two options: Sierra silver and Onyx black. Purchasers can choose between one of two case sizes: 44mm and 41mm. Furthermore, Breitling has put in place more choice with the option of one more metal bracelet or a black fabric strap.
Three silver subdials contrast with the black dial canvas consequently arresting the wearer’s attention. A thirty-minute chronometer register is placed at three o’clock, a twelve-hour chronometer is placed above six o’clock and a second’s display is put at nine o’clock. The contrast of the subdials and the snailed detail of every counter confer enough eye appeal. The minute and hour hands shine gloriously; they are both lined with enhanced visibility in dim light and a beige luminous fill. The hour markers are rectangular in shape and feature the aforementioned beige luminous fill. A date space on the Chronomat 41 model is placed between four and five o’clock. The date disc is placed close to the space opening. The white text on the aperture is legible against the black disc and it is depicted in a readable Avec serif. On the sides of the aperture is a white border, which offers demarcation and guides the eyes to the current date. A red seconds hand moves after every quarter second interval, which denotes that this watch has a frequency of about 4 Hz (28,800 vph). The second's hand is well visible due to its vibrant color and interfaces. There is enough detail on the dial of the Chronomat 41 series with numerous elements synergistically contributing to its composition. At no particular point does the dial appear less legible. Indeed, it is the readability of the watch’s dial that repeats the winning design behind the 1984 original watch.
Breitling is well known for producing robust watches capable of comfortable wear. Many aviators have chosen to entrust timekeeping to the company’s timepieces in the knowledge that the watch will shrug off scrapes with no fuss at all. It is for this reason why Breitling has respectably earned its status as a good maker of professional instruments. The Chronomat 41 series upholds this reputation given its sturdy exterior and features numerous Chronomat design codes. The screw-locked pieces of the original watch are retained as is the fluted screw crown. The unidirectional rotating bezel features the company’s iconic rider tabs placed at noon, six, nine, and three o’clock, and it is satin-brushed. The bezel is designed to turn with pleasure-inducing tactility, assisting pilots to count flight times quite easily. Also, the beautiful presence of the bezel is a good example of function following form with ease of use guaranteed with well-thought-out designs. The other surfaces of the watch are well polished, offering comely contradistinction. Further adorning the case back is a description that reads: Edition Spéciale 30 Anniversaire together with a clear depiction of the Aermacchi – a plane flown by the Frecce Tricolori. The case back is very attractive, and only a few people would consider having it redone. The watch has a sapphire case back and deservedly so. Moreover, its movement is a thing of beauty.
The Breitling Caliber is self-winding, and it is denoted with a red text on the dial that states ‘Automatic’ in italics. The watch prides in its movement as crafted at the organization’s La Chaux-de-Fonds atelier. The watch’s movement is exceptional. It is well crafted with Côtes de Genève adorning the bridges. However, there is one regret: the inability to see the column wheel engage with the vertical clutch. The Chronomat 41 is a fantastic timepiece. It is arguably the best member of the Chronomat series. Breitling has, over the past thirty years, refined the piece without losing the special essence that inspired the original watch.
Written by Dana Hanson
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