The Breitling Jet Team is halfway through the second and final year of its inaugural tour of U.S. and Canadian air shows, and its sponsoring watch brand is commemorating the American Tour with a pair of limited-edition watches, the Chronomat 44 Breitling Jet Team America Tour and Chronomat GMT Breitling Jet Team American Tour.
With the Superocean 44 Special, Breitling introduces their second (at the time of writing) timepiece which uses a ceramic bezel. If you recall, last year in 2015 Breitling released the well-priced and good-looking Chronoliner (hands-on here) that has a solid black ceramic bezel. Competing watch brands such as Rolex and Omega had introduced ceramic as a material into their lineup years previously, so it was about time Breitling offered their own take on the use of the material. For 2016, Breitling uses ceramic as a bezel material for this “Special” version of the Superocean dive watch.
As promised, let’s start with a ramble because I think it helps demonstrate what can be so fun about this hobby. Picture yourself on a sunny Saturday morning, coffee in hand, with little to do other than to mull the upcoming day’s tasks at hand. This was me just a short couple of weeks back and I was faced with the perfectly fine, albeit normal activity of walking downtown with my daughter to run some errands. I had wine pickup and, wait for it, the purchase of pen refills on my list of things to do. Normally, I’d use the opportunity of going downtown to look into the windows of several of the large watch shops, but this just didn’t appeal to me having just returned from Baselworld and also knowing that it’s a lull period before all the new watches hit the stores later this Summer. So, I walked and for some odd reason, I chose a slightly different route that took me by a consignment shop that’s normally filled with glitzy cocktail rings, questionable diamonds and bad 60’s/70’s dress watches. On this day, though, “mundane” took a holiday because, amongst all the rotted Junghans, BWC and Anker watches, a lovely Breitling 809 Cosmonaute sat behind the display.
Breitling’s output of new models at Baselworld 2016 was small compared to recent years, but featured some notable innovations, including an all-new, proprietary case material in the Avenger Hurricane and, in the new, limited-edition Breitling Heritage Superocean Chronoworks, a re-engineered movement with a 100-hour power reserve.
Breitling’s Chronoworks department, headquartered at the brand’s manufacture in la Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, is the equivalent to a team of engine-tuning experts in the automotive world, tasked with developing and testing performance-upgrading technologies that can subsequently be introduced in series-produced watches. Breitling describes the well-equipped Chronoworks lab as a “think tank and a test bench for tomorrow’s technologies.” For this new watch, the experts at Chronoworks turned their attention to Breitling’s in-house, COSC-chronometer-certified base Caliber 01, ultimately incorporating five new technological advancements that enhanced the movement’s energy efficiency, reduced friction, and pumped up its already impressive 70 hours of winding autonomy to a full 100 hours.
At Baselworld 2015, Breitling introduced its decidedly masculine Galactic Unitime SleekT model; now, the brand known for its aviation-inspired sport luxury watches offers a slimmed-down (in both size and complexity) new version for the ladies, called Breitling Galactic 36 SleekT.
The Breitling Galactic 36 SleekT has a slimmer case than its predecessor, in addition to a smaller diameter (36 mm as opposed to 44 mm for the Unitime). It is outfitted with Breitling Caliber 74, a thermocompensated “SuperQuartz” movement (in contrast to the Unitime’s mechanical automatic Caliber B35), which is chronometer-certified and which Breitling says boasts a level of timekeeping precision 10 times higher than that of a standard quartz movement. Adding to the smooth ergonomic appeal of the case is the bezel made of tungsten carbide, an extremely resistant high-tech composite material. Made by molding tungsten powder at high temperatures and under extreme pressures, tungsten carbide offers a hardness five times that of steel as well as a scratch-proof surface. Aesthetically, its color contrasts subtly with the polished steel of the case.