Brutal, yet well-proportioned, the new Breitling Cockpit B50 (ref. VB501022/BD41-155S) aviator’s chronograph wristwatch (especially the variation in plain machine-brushed titanium) somehow reminds me USAF’s F22 air superiority fighter jet: everything is on its place; everything is completely functional, yet extremely sexy. The only thing that makes the new B50 model different is the price. While still deliciously expensive, it won’t make you sell your house to get one.
To be frank, I can’t really say that the news of Breitling working on its own “in-house” SuperQuartz chronograph shattered the floor beneath yours truly. In the world where public is slowly growing reluctant to buy ultra-expensive timekeepers that are powered by run-of-the-mill mechanisms basically available to any Joe Blow willing to establish his own luxury brand, it was only a matter of time before a watchmaking behemoth such as Breitling would decide to make a mechanism that would only power their own timekeepers.
Moreover, in a world where there dozens of independent contractors ready to supply you with all the components necessary to build such a mechanism, the move is also not particularly cost prohibitive or time consuming.
As one could have expected, the Caliber B50 movement doesn’t offer anything terribly revolutionary about its functionality delivering you the usual mix of a flight time chronograph, a couple of timers, an electronic tachometer, UTC support and, of course, their signature combination of an analogue three-hander with an LCD display, which is visible through a pair of large apertures in lower and upper parts of dial.
However, like it is often the case with luxury timepieces, there are lots of tiny details that make this watch quite desirable. Its elegant blue backlighting, for example, may switch on automatically when you raise your hand closer to your eyes: a must have when you are busy piloting your plane through a storm or driving your car at night on a winding rural road.
The symbols on the LCD display are now constructed of more elements allowing for better legibility when it comes to short fragments of texts.
Of course, this is not a G-Shock and Breitling simply couldn’t afford cluttering the gadget’s body with knobs and inscriptions, so there is only the usual pair of chronograph push-pieces (quite elegantly finished, I must admit) and a slightly oversized crown that controls the “electronic” functionality of the watch including manual backlight switch.
Unlike the new Apple Watch that still looks more like small smartphone on your wrist, this new Breitling Cockpit B50 bears all the usual features of a Breitling chronograph. Using the same design language as their latest Emergency II life saver, the watch comes in an oversized (but not excessively so at healthy 46 millimeters wide and less than 17 mm thick) titanium, which is available either in classic untreated, or in their new “tactical” blacked variation.
Yes, smaller guys will probably have to pass this beautiful gadget, but those with more impressive stature will probably be quite okay wearing this model with jeans or something equally casual.
See also: Breitling Aerospace Evo SuperQuartz
WWR preliminary verdict
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 4/5
Breitling Cockpit B50 Aviator’s Chronograph watch specification
Price: $8000 (MSRP, ref. VB501022/BD41-155S)
Movement: SuperQuartz, Caliber B50, in-house, Swiss Made
Power source: Rechargeable battery
Functions: Time, perpetual calendar, chronograph, timers, second time zone (UTC), flight timer
Case material: Titanium / Black titanium
Bezel material: Matches case
Crown material: Matches case
Case shape: Tonneau
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 46.00 mm
Case height: 16.45 mm
Lug width: 24/20 mm
Dial: Volcano black
Numerals: Arabic, applied, luminous
Hour markers: Luminous
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Professional III titanium bracelet, Diver Pro III rubber band (black or blue)
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective on both sides, cambered
Case back: Solid