The Chronomat has been a mainstay of 1:1 online Breitling replica watches collections since it was first launched in 1984 (in the version still in production; the very first Breitling watch to have the name debuted in the 1940s) and since then, it has had more incarnations than the Dalai Lama. It has appeared in virtually every variation imaginable and probably a few you would not have thought of in your wildest dreams, but two things have remained consistent about it since day one. These are the use of the oddly archaic onion-shaped crown and the use of the so-called “rider tabs” on the bezel. The latter are perhaps more strongly identified with the Chronomat than any other design element of the watch; they have lent it the sort of immediate recognizability that most watch models only dream of, and while they have historically been something of a love-it-or-hate-it feature of the high quality fake Breitling Chronomat watches, they have made it as much what it is as the octagonal bezel has made the Royal Oak what it is.
At the same time that it has achieved (at least to my way of thinking) a definite retro-cool vibe in its original design, it is also true that the best US replica Breitling Chronomat watches was overdue for a re-evaluation and a refresh, which is what it has just gotten. The new Chronomat collection features a very subtly tweaked and updated version of the watch, intended to give it a more contemporary appeal while at the same time, underscoring some of the vintage design cues that made the watch such a huge hit in the first place.
The new version of the perfect Breitling Chronomat copy watches brings us a more subtle take. The rider tabs are still there (it wouldn’t be a Chronomat without them), but they lie more flush with the bezel while still providing the functionality of the original design, both in terms of timing, and in terms of providing a better grip. I have no idea how many pilots nowadays still wear mechanical chronographs in the cockpit (but, as with saturation divers and mechanical Breitling replica watches wholesale, it’s probably more than we think), but the rider tabs certainly make the bezel easier to grip and turn. With them, you can easily turn the bezel with gloves on (I should know, I just tried), and you get the dual benefits of a countdown bezel with a chronograph. Add that to the fact that with the lume on the dial and indexes and the 200-meter water resistance, you have an ISO 6425 compliant dive watch, and an in-house self-winding chronograph movement that in toughness and precision gives up nothing to any of its competitors, and you have a very attractive value proposition.
One other interesting feature of the rider tabs, is that you can unscrew the tabs at three and nine o’clock and switch their positions, which lets you use the bezel as either a countdown or count-up timer (Breitling strongly recommends that if you want this done, you have it done at a Breitling boutique rather than going DIY).
At launch, the collection will consist of four steel on steel models, with silver, copper, blue or black dials, at $8,100. There will also be Bentley or Frecce Tricolori Limited Editions, with steel cases; the Bentley model with a green dial and the Frecce Tricolori model with a blue dial, at $8,250. In addition, there is a steel version with gold rider tabs, a silver dial, and steel bracelet, at $9,350; as well as a model with a steel and gold case, with an anthracite or blue dial, on a steel and gold Bracelet, at $12,100. Rounding out the collection is a model with a full-gold case and anthracite dial, which comes on a black rubber strap, at $20,200.
I was never particularly a fan of the Swiss movements Breitling Chronomat fake watches. I have to be honest, it always looked like a kind of frat-boy parody of a technical watch to me, which is unfairly judgmental, but I suppose we all have our prejudices and that is one of mine. The new version of the Chronomat very much surprised me in two ways. First of all, it made me like a Chronomat, which I would have not placed any money on happening any time between now and … well, ever. Secondly, it made me look at the existing Chronomat models in a new light.
It has, in short, become a very interesting and compelling watch, at least to my tastes, which as I have said I was not expecting. The rider tabs, possibly the most polarizing element of the Chronomat, now feel functional, and present in the service of functionality. The general feel and look of the China Breitling super clone watches is much more technical and far less striving for attention than I think it has ever been in decades. It’s a very careful and I think smart refresh that respects what made the original Chronomat such a hit, while at the same time acknowledging and even getting ahead of the need for a long-awaited update to the line.
One other final point: The new/old rouleaux bracelet is very exciting. It gives the new Chronomat models a very strong visual connection to the past, which I am sure was its intention, but it is also supple, comfortable, visually pleasing, and an excellent complement to the newly redesigned Chronomat itself. The polished interlinks in the bracelet also connect visually to the rider tabs, giving the entire luxury replica Breitling watches a more harmonious look overall. Normally, I prefer straps to bracelets just in general, and I know this is not what we generally refer to in strict terms as an “integrated bracelet,” but it feels like one of the most nicely integrated bracelets, from a design and feel standpoint, that I have seen in a long time. No spoilers, but as I write I have a prototype in hand, and I look forward to bringing a more detailed evaluation once I’ve had a chance to spend some more time with the actual watch. For now, I have a very positive first impression of the new Chronomat collection.