Brutal, yet well-proportioned, the Breitling Cockpit B50 (ref. VB501022/BD41-155S) (especially the variation in plain machine-brushed titanium) somehow reminds me of a USAF’s F22 air superiority fighter jet: everything is in 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 say that the news of Breitling working on its own “in-house” SuperQuartz chronograph shattered the floor beneath yours truly. In the world where the 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. The mechanism delivers 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 analog three-hander with an LCD display, which is visible through a pair of large apertures in lower and upper parts of the dial.
However, as is often the case with luxury timepieces, there are many tiny details that make this watch quite desirable. The 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. Breitling simply couldn’t afford to clutter the gadget’s body with knobs and inscriptions. 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 a manual backlight switch.
Unlike the new Apple Watch that still looks more like a 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 lifesaver, the Cockpit B50 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 gentlemen 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
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 4/5
Breitling Cockpit B50 Aviator’s Chronograph 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: Titanium / Black titanium
Bezel shape: Round
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