As a watchmaker, Breitling is most recognised for its connection to aviation and their production of aviation-related chronographs. For Baselworld 2017, Breitling solidifies its watchmaking reputation for chronographs with its own split-seconds chronograph movement in the new Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante. The split-seconds chronograph used to be on par with the manufacture of minute repeaters until Richard Habring built one on the back of a Valjoux 7750 for IWC but that shouldn’t detract on what an accomplishment it is for Breitling to add one to its famed Navitimer collection.
Baselworld 2017 Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante
Developed in the spirit of instruments for professionals, the Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante is driven by the brand’s first manufacture split-seconds chronograph, a complication heretofore unseen in the brand. The Manufacture Breitling Calibre B03 (protected by two patents) is distinguished by its innovative construction ensuring a maximum of precision, sturdiness and reliability. COSC-certified, Breitling conceived of the Caliber B03 much in the same way Habring did – the rattrapante module itself is only 28 parts and designed to be easily removed for servicing or replaced.
For those of you unfamiliar, the rattrapante or split-seconds chronograph consists of two superimposed central chronograph hands, of which one can be stopped so as to measure an intermediate (split) time, before “catching up” (rattraper in French) with the first one still sweeping onwards, the split-seconds chronograph, despite its simpler architecture since Habring’s update, it is generally considered one of the hardest watchmaking mechanisms to create. much less regulate for COSC-certification.
Watchmakers perform a lengthy process of adjustment and rating, that is correcting the clearance of the split-seconds wheel and pinion, adapting the tension of the springs, adjusting the degree of penetration of the clamps, etc. and to that end, Breitling’s ability to produce this complicated chronograph in large series production is admirable – an elegant solution to a complicated problem after years of R&D. Aesthetically, the Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante also made use of the functional element of the dual rattrapante seconds hands to split the signature “B” motif into the “B” and the anchor components.
The two new patents in the Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante calibre B03
The major challenge for a split-seconds chronograph movement relates to variable energy requirements from the constant stopping and starting of the split-seconds hand that can prove detrimental to chronometric precision and reduce a watch’s power reserve. To that end, Breitling chose to resolve the issue by means of an isolating system serving to disconnect the split-seconds hand when it is stopped with two fundamental improvements – first, the component driving the split-seconds lever normally takes the form of a cylindrical pin: an organ that is complex to produce below a certain diameter. Breitling watchmakers replaced this pin with a stamped part enabling it to achieve a more precisely defined shape, as well as enhanced sturdiness. Thanks to this isolating system, the use of the split-seconds hand has no impact on the precision of the timing, nor on the power reserve. Second, the traditional rattrapante method of stopping the split-seconds hand typically uses a wheel (either smooth or with extremely fine toothing) that is clamped in place. This system is complicated to produce and can lead to a certain degree of inaccuracy. Inspired by cycle brakes equipped with rubber pads, Breitling’s engineers had the idea of surrounding the wheel with an O-ring seal that would be compressed by the clamp. The result is an easy to produce yet far more efficient, precision stopping system.
To present this major technical breakthrough, Breitling has chosen its most emblematic Navitimer aesthetics in a treatment of 45mm steel or gold with an exclusive bronze-colored dial. The 70 hours running Baselworld 2017 Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante will retail for US$11,090 in steel limited and US$32,895 in 18k gold (which is limited to 250 pieces)