It pays off to be a Swiss air force pilot. While most aerobatics teams barely receive even sporadic attention from major watchmaking brands, Switzerland’s only team of professional pilots gets its name immortalized the third time in less than three years. Back in 2011, Oris and IWC commemorated the 20th anniversary of their current paint scheme and now Breitling, another key watchmaker, celebrates the semicentenary of the team itself. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the new Breitling Chronomat 44 GMT Patroulle Suisse 50th Anniversary automatic chronograph with second time-zone indication.
Based on their current Chronomat 44 GMT that the brand has introduced almost two years ago, the new limited edition comes in the same massive body 44 millimeters in diameter but features a lot more attractive color scheme and a tad simpler (and also more elegant) dial.
Although the timekeeper looks modern with well-chosen typefaces both for the rotating bezel with its usual 24-hour scale and the traditionally cluttered dial, there are some nice “vintage” touches to it including beige-toned Superluminova, as well as the oversized, onion-shaped setting crown.
The arrives in their signature “black steel” body and features a matte-black dial with rhodium-plated hands and hour markers that are partly covered with beige (well, it is almost brown) Superluminova compound.
The pair of steel-toned chronograph counters, as well as the extra-bright Patroulle Suisse logo on the small seconds indicator, make the watch look almost as black as Darth Wader’s helmet, but not as grim. The black dial also serves as a nice background for the red tip of the 24-hour GMT indicator, which is shaped as the F-5E Tiger II jet fighter that PS officially switched to many years ago.
By the way, the plane looks similar to that on the 2011 IWC Montre d’Aviateur Chronographe Edition Patrouille Suisse (Ref. 3717) and, to be frank, I am not sure whether the similarity was intentional or someone in the design department just made a costly mistake.
Like the base model, the new Breitling Chronomat 44 GMT Patroulle Suisse 50th Anniversary is powered by the same Caliber B04 in-house movement (like Panerai, Breitling has made an enormous effort to switch from mass-produced ETA mechanisms to its own calibers) that was certified as a chronometer by the Swiss COSC authority and offers a nice combination of a chronograph and a 24-hour second time-zone indicator.
Beautiful in its complexity, the self-winding movement usually features a rather plain exterior finish. Perhaps, this is precisely the reason why the Swiss brand decided to hide it behind a solid case back cover.
While on the subject, I would also like to note that, thanks to the timekeeper’s rotating bezel that features an extra 24-hour scale, you can use the watch to display not two, but whole three time zones: convenient if you happen to work on different markets with different daylight saving time.
As usual, the watch is issued as a limited edition, but don’t worry: 1000 units that the Swiss company has already produced will be enough to last for at least a couple of years.
Build quality: 4/5
Value for money: 3/5
Breitling Chronomat 44 GMT Patroulle Suisse 50th Anniversary specification
Movement: Automatic, Breitling Caliber B04, in-house, COSC-certified chronometer, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 47
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 70 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, chronograph, GMT, third time-zone on the bezel
Case: Stainless steel
Size: 44.00 mm
Hour markers: Luminous, beige
Water resistance: 200 meters
Strap: Black rubber Diver Pro III band / Pilot stainless steel multi-link bracelet
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective on both sides, cambered
Back: Solid, engraved