Breitling is known for large case sizes, all watches being COSC-certified, and recently poaching Georges Kern from Richemont. Their recently announced limited-edition version of the Breitling Chronoliner B04 watch with a red gold case fits right in with the blingier, showier side of Breitling. With chronograph and GMT complications, the B04 is touted by Breitling as the “flight captain’s chronograph.”
As a note, given development and production timelines, this watch is very likely to have been kick-started much before Georges Kern’s tenure at the helm began. So I don’t think it would be fair to draw any comparisons or conclusions (good or bad), about Breitling’s future direction based on this one watch.
The Chronoliner B04 was first launched with a steel case earlier this year and is a successor to the vintage 765 AVI and 765 Co-Pilot. As a “flight-captain’s chronograph,” the Chronoliner B04 – like its predecessors – is intended to be a tool watch first and foremost, and this is one reason many Breitling watches tend to be large.
In this case, the Breitling Chronoliner B04 is 46mm by 16.85mm, so you can expect your arm to have quite a workout given how dense gold tends to be. While I’m not a fan of big watches, I did find the color scheme of the original steel B04 appealing. The red-gold/blue color scheme, however, is even better – if ostentatious. The bezel, like most modern tool watches, is ceramic and, as expected from a GMT pilot’s watch, bi-directional.
The watch has a screw-down caseback, which I believe is individually numbered and while the crown is not screw-down, it is double-gasketed and the chronograph pushers are simple and mushroom-shaped. The watch is rated at 100m of water resistance – no surprises given that it is meant to be a tool watch.
The dial layout, remains the same from the steel Chronoliner B04, but the hands and applied logo are now in red gold. The watch has a three-register chronograph layout, complete with the loathsome date indicator at 4:30. Thanks to the large case size, Breitling has been able to print the 24-hour indicator for the GMT complication on the dial itself and not on the rehaut like we sometimes see in sub-40mm watches. This helps significantly with legibility. As much as I hate 4:30 date windows, I can sympathize with the lack of options given how many functions you have to display and the need for form to follow function and not the other way around.
On the brand new Colt, the markings are precisely engraved into the satin-finished bezel, which slopes gently downward toward its outer rim. The bezel clicks through 120 measures when compared with the 60 notches on the bezel of this Colt Super-ocean, even though the extra steps aren’t necessary for to-the-minute placing of a dip’s start time. The brand new Colt Automatic also repeats the Superocean’s 24-hour scale and rare 1/100s-hour scale, called an “aeronautic hundredths scale.” A hardy, stainless-steel case with a doubly insulated back will help maintain the watch intact in deep dives. The Professional III stainless-steel bracelet has a safety catch and a folding grip that pops open on one side. The bracelet, the Professional III, may be corrected at the grip or by eliminating screwed connections at either end of the clasp. The watch is also worn on a leather strap or on either an Ocean Racer or Diver Professional rubberized strap.Any of them would produce the watch lighter than the 194 g it weighs on a stainless-steel bracelet. (Despite being relatively heavy, the watch is still very comfortable to wear.) The leather strap is pleasantly supple, but its own buckle looks a bit rickety.In its guise as Breitling Caliber 17, the ETA 2824-2 from the new Colt is only reasonably adorned, but has made chronometer certification. The Colt’s average speed was almost entirely free of deviations when analyzed on our electronic time machine using the mainspring fully wound and afterwards running for 24 hours. On the wrist, the watch conducted 1 minute slow. This small sluggishness persisted day following day, but the 1-second deviation falls within the chronometric tolerance range. We also noted a gap in the amplitudes, which in the hanging places declined by nearly 60 degrees within the span of a single day. That’s a sizable dip, however, the typical rate remained untouched by the decrease and is commendable entire.
The Breitling Chronoliner B04 is powered by the in-house caliber B04. It offers 70 hours of power reserve and is, naturally, COSC-certified like every other Breitling watch. At first glance, I can see a lot of appealing aspects in the Chronoliner B04, but there’s also enough to make me stop and think twice, if not thrice. With the case of the red-gold Chronoliner B04, sticker shock can be added to that. The Breitling Chronoliner B04 in red-gold is limited to 250 pieces and ships on a rubber strap for a price of $32,545. This is a hefty premium over the steel sibling, which actually had a smaller run of 100 watches. breitling.com