Breitling, the company that likes to be associated with anything that has an even passing relationship with the sky, greatly appreciates its long-standing partnership with Frecce Tricolori, the Italian Air Force aerobatics team. It was less than 18 months ago that the brand has introduced the limited-edition Chronomat Frecce Tricolori 44: a member of the family that differed from its siblings only with the team’s logo printed on its black dial. This year, they introduce their 2014 Chronomat Airborne 30th Anniversary: another limited edition that, as the name implies, celebrates the 30th anniversary of their relationship. Available both in a compact 41 mm body and in a more impressive 44 mm case, the chronograph looks a lot more original, comes with two colors of its dial, and is equipped with a high-grade, in-house chronograph movement.
While the version with black dial certainly looks cool and solid, it is the other variation that makes my heart beat faster. Together with the satin-brushed texture of the bezel, the eggshell-white face makes a deliciously vintage appearance reminding those classic pilot’s watches with oxidized hands and dented bodies that have seen cities burning bombed by hundreds of Blockbusters and huge, but painfully slow planes shattered to pieces by 88mm flak cannons.
Compared to previous Chronomats, this Airborne 30th Anniversary model has the usual minute track on the bezel replaced with more graphic bars and strokes with only three Arabic numerals left on the traditional raised rider tabs to make counting time easier.
Together with a brushed surface, the new design of the bezel makes the Airborne 30th Anniversary look significantly more lightweight and easier to read. Of course, it (even the relatively compact 41mm version) is still massive, but the size and boldness is exactly the reason why we buy Breitlings, after all: those searching for a more delicate “aviator” should probably take a look elsewhere.
Perhaps the new Alpina Startimer Pilot Black Star Automatic Chronograph (AL-860GB4FBS6) or the gorgeous, but restrained IWC Montre d’Aviateur Chronographe Edition Patrouille Suisse (Ref. 3717, if you will be able to find one as the watch was limited to just 300 individually numbered pieces) would be a great choice depending on the size of your wallet.
Like most of their recent timekeepers, the watch is powered by an in-house Caliber 01 automatic chronograph movement. Certified as a chronometer by COSC, the mechanism not only guarantees you the highest accuracy possible for this class of movements but also (at least partly) justifies the extremely high price.
Well, there is still no information regarding the price* of this beautiful device, but I am sure that will be initially offered at no less than €6500 if their currently available models are any indication.
*UPDATE ON PRICE: Well, the Swiss watchmaker decided to offer this beauty at a minimum price of $8,100 for a 41 mm version, which is *ahem* impressive. I just wonder how many pieces they will be able to sell at such a steep price?
Build quality: 4.5/5
Value for money: 4/5
Breitling Chronomat Airborne 30th Anniversary specification
Price: $8,100 (41 mm model, ref. AB01442J/BD26-102W)
Movement: Automatic, Caliber B01, in-house, COSC-certified chronometer, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 47
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 70 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, chronograph
Case: Stainless steel
Sizes: 41.00 mm / 44.00 mm
Dial: Black with silver-toned counters / Eggshell-white with black counters
Hour markers: Applied, luminous
Strap: Black textile NATO strap on a steel folding clasp
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective
Back: Solid, engraved with the inscription “Edition Speciale 30e Anniversaire” (Special 30th Anniversary Edition) as well as the outline of an Aermacchi MB-339, one of the ten planes flown by the Italian flight squadron