Today, when a last year’s smartphone, which is not even considered a flagship anymore, sports more firepower than a top-of-the-line laptop PC from early 2000s, it is extremely difficult to impress someone with a simple electronic watch. There are devices that act your personal running coach and there are wrist computers that could guide you to a nearest landing field if your plane’s engine suddenly breaks down. I am not even talking about latest “smart” watches that were designed to communicate with you phones that are now just too large to handle. So, how does the Swiss watchmaking brand plans to surprise us with its new Breitling Aerospace Evo wrist watch?
Well, the answer is simple (and also somewhat discouraging): they don’t. Just like dozens of now long gone watchmakers around the world didn’t see the “quartz crisis” coming in the 1970s, those who survived the electronic holocaust don’t really bother to produce gadgets that would save them from the new wave of smart devices. Deliberately sticking to its “traditions”, the Swiss industry keeps delivering metal dinosaurs with an intelligence that only rivals that of an electric tea kettle.
Take this new Breitling Aerospace Evo, for example. What does it give you that your iPhone (or Samsung Galaxy S4, or Nokia Lumia 1020) doesn’t already have. A 1/100th of a second chronograph? How about no? A countdown timer? Nay. A second time zone? Come on! Well, maybe a leap year indicator? Give me a break! Basically, this is the same set of functions that my cheap electronic Made in Hong-Kong watch had back in 1980s!
Still, what this gadget has is the design that almost no of current contenders can reproduce. Gadgets from Garmin and Suunto are too technical, watches like G-Shock are possibly designed by a band of pokemons (some of them possibly high on illegal substances), and the smart watches like the Samsung Gear look more like a piece of a mobile phone attached to your wrist with a cheap synthetic leather band.
Unlike most Breitlings, this particular model is relatively compact at just 43 millimeters. Its unidirectional rotating bezel is wonderfully sculpted and brilliantly decorated with fine brushing, while the dial looks surprisingly clean even with its bold Arabic numerals (some of them polished and applied and the others simply printed in high-contrast Superluminova of greenish hue) decorating its sandblasted face.
It’s their love for minute details that still makes this watch worth the price in the eyes of current generation of people that still value traditions and that famous “Swiss Made” lettering on dials. But if Breitling (and the other brands that still think that the Quartz Revolution is over) wants to stay relevant in the decades that come, they clearly should invest some money and brains into creating a new generation of watches that would still give people the reason to spend thousands of Euros on gadgets that cost maybe 1/10th of that sum.
WWR preliminary verdict
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 3/5
Breitling Aerospace Evo SuperQuartz watch specification
Price: $4400 (MSRP. ref. E7936310/BC27-152E)
Movement: Quartz, Breitling caliber 79 (base ETA ThermoLine E10.451 SuperQuartz caliber), COSC-certified chronometer, EoL indication, Swiss Made
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, perpetual calendar, chronograph, timer, alarm, battery EOL indication
Case material: Titanium
Bezel material: Matches case
Crown material: Matches case
Case shape: Round
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 43.00 mm
Case height: 10.80 mm
Lug width: 22 mm
Dial: Volcano black / Mariner blue / Tungsten grey
Hour markers: Luminous
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Leather / crocodile leather / rubber Diver Pro III band / titanium Professional bracelet
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective on both sides
Case back: Solid