The Chronomat holds a significant place in Breitling’s history. Introduced in 1984, when extra-thin quartz timepieces were the order of the day, Breitling placed a bold bet on an impressive mechanical watch that proved to be a winner and became an icon of its era. The new Breitling Chronomat is targeted as an all purpose sports watch. Announced in May 2021, the review subject – the Super Chronomat 44 Four-Year Calendar is the most complicated watch in that launch. We examine it.
Review: Breitling Super Chronomat 44 Four-Year Calendar
Retail price for the Breitling Super Chronomat 44 Four-Year Calendar is SGD 21,900 for the Stainless Steel & 18k Red Gold – Black model in the rubber Rouleaux-inspired strap as reviewed. The watch is also available in Stainless Steel & 18k Red Gold – Blue at SGD 22,800 with a rubber Rouleaux-inspired strap and in Stainless Steel & 18k Red Gold – Blue for SGD 24,800 with stainless steel Rouleaux bracelet. All prices with GST.
We covered the release of the Super Chronomat 44 Four-Year Calendar here.
The case, dial and hands
The case retains the time tested shape of the older Chronomat, with a case measuring 44mm wide and 14.5mm thick. Lug to lug, the watch measures 53.5mm. Aesthetically, the edges are not as rounded as the earlier model, and the case appears like it was carved out from a solid block of steel. The feel is massive and solid, and heavy at 134.4g for the watch head alone.
The bezel is rather wide and large, and fitted with the signature rider tabs at 12, 3, 6 and 9. The bezel holds a ceramic insert that is mirror polished, and marked only at each hour with an engraved line with contrasting gold colors. The upper half of the bezel is also engraved with minute markers.
The Super Chronomat features several ceramic inserts – on the bezel, on the chronograph pushers and on the crown – as well as a Rouleaux-inspired rubber strap.
The crown retains the unusual conical shape of past Chronomats, like an onion, but without a bulge, with corrugated sides to facilitate good grip.
In practice, this works well, as the crown is easy to manipulate for time setting and winding. The rehaut is a sloping one, and marked up as a tachymeter. The main dial itself has applique markers filled with SuperLuminova. And transfer printed minute markings on the periphery. The sub-dials are at the 12/6/9 position with a moonphase window at 3.
Water-resistant up to 100 meters, this timepiece is powered by the Breitling Caliber 19, a COSC-certified chronograph movement.
The Breitling B19 movement is based off the ETA 2892-A2 with approximately 42 hours power reserve and displays a 1/4th second chronograph, 30 minute, and 12 hour totalizer. The 4 year calendar also shows the day, date, month and moonphase. The movement is rather thick, as the ETA base movement is stacked with a Dubuis Depraz chronograph module as well as a four-year calendar module, piling up to make the case a hefty 14.5mm thick.
This movement is half way between the annual calendar and the perpetual calendar. The annual calendar, first shown by the Patek Philippe Ref. 5035 in 1996 requires a correction every year. While perpetual calendars are classical complications and take into account leap years. These run on a 4 year cycle, recognizing the leap year and go from Feb 29 to Mar 1 on its own. And from Feb 28 to Mar 1 on non-leap years without user intervention. Most will only need an adjustment when the Gregorian calendar calls for skips, once every 100 years, though there is an exception once every 400 years. The Breitling 4-year calendar does not take into consideration the leap year, and will require an adjustment every leap year, a span of 1,461 days. Breitling describes it as a semi-perpetual calendar. It merely does an annual cycle of Feb 28 to Mar 1. Thus will need user input every leap year to go from Feb 28 to Feb 29 and subsequently Mar 1.
Overall we enjoyed the look and feel of the watch. It brought to mind Omega’s Speedmaster and its calendar sibiling. Or even more distant, IWC’s Ingenier or GST calendar. The contrasting materials and colors gave the watch a sporty look, and the size came with substantial wrist presence. The downside of course, is a rather hefty sports watch more suited for those with thicker wrists.
Priced at USD 14,600, the calendar variant of the Breitling Super Chronomat is $6000 more than its B01 44 counterpart. The calendar watch displays more information than the chronograph, but at the expense of dial clutter. While the B01 is recognized as a Breitling Manufacture movement – as stated on their website, the ETA derived B19 although with the modified calendar module is not. There is therefore a difference in the warranty duration – with 5+3 years on the B01 and 2+2 years on the B19. (edit for Editor’s note: For the Singapore market, the warranty is only 5 years for the B01 and 2 years for the B19).
For those who prefer a longer warranty, a manufacture movement, a cleaner dial, and $6000 change, the B01 maybe a better choice. That said, the Four-Year calendar is not without its charm and is a good option for those who want more complications.