The new Breitling Transocean Chronograph 1915 (ref. AB141112/G799-154A) is an interesting beast. It nicely mixes its modern design language with visual elements from models dating back to as many as hundred years ago. Some of these elements -or rather the way Breitling combined them together- look controversial. Some of them -like the choice of caliber- are cheap. Yet, this new variety is a great offer for a person who finds their signature Navitimer and Chronomat models too arrogant for a person of good taste.
With this new Transocean Chronograph 1915, Breitling celebrates the centenary of its “world’s first” independent chronograph push-piece design.
Back in 1915, the brand has introduced its own take on the concept of a “monopusher” chronograph. The pocket watch had its chronograph push-piece moved from the usual position inside the winding crown to a more convenient place at two o’clock.
The design proved to be successful. During the next five decades, the Swiss brand produced many other models with the same layout. Among them was a rare Breitling RCAF special edition model for the Royal Canadian Air Force. The watch was powered by Caliber Valjoux 236: a modified version of the hand-wound Valjoux 23.
While the way the pusher is placed makes the device look a bit unbalanced, it’s great that they have returned to the idea: it is a wristwatch for those who prefer to think different.
This new model, too, is equipped with a nicely finished manually-wound chronometer-grade movement. Called Caliber B14 Manufacture, it should not be mistaken for their older Caliber B14 self-winding mechanism. While the latter is based on the “plebeian” ETA 2892-A2, the former is a strictly in-house job. It is officially certified as a chronometer and features healthy 70 hours of guaranteed power reserve.
In a nod to the brand’s golden era, the watch has its elegant silver-toned dial sporting a mix of styles that the brand used from the 1910s to 1950s.
The dial, by the way, features an interesting twist. Take a look at the 30-minute chronograph sub-dial at 3 o’clock. There are three stick-shaped markers there each measuring exactly three minutes. Who would want to measure time by three-minute intervals, you may ask? Well, apparently those who travel a lot and have to make long-distance calls back home. Back in the day phone companies weren’t any nicer -or less greedy- than they are now. Calls were expensive and billed in three-minute intervals, so Breitling helped their clients save cash.
Styling-wise, the Transocean 1915 was greatly influenced by a 1950s version of the Breitling Premier chronograph. The new watch, too, sports an easy to read bi-compax dial layout, as well a similarly styled set of Arabic numerals.
Being powered by the brand’s new Caliber B14 hand-wound in-house movement, the watch now features a date window at 6 hours. It is also much larger measuring 43 mm in diameter versus approximately 37 millimeters of the timepiece it pays homage to.
The increase in physical dimensions made the watch less versatile. However, larger diameter allowed for a larger, more legible dial.
I know at least a couple of persons that would at least frown at the way the timekeeper combines at least four different typefaces within its spacious dial. I myself am desperately trying not to pay attention to other inscriptions on the timepiece’s face. Yet, I like how the brand’s historic logo is emphasized by vintage-looking luminous Arabic numerals.
As usual, Breitling issues the Transocean Chronograph 1915 as a kind of limited edition model with a total production run restricted to, yes, just 1915 numbered pieces. Price is set at an impressive $9275.
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 4/5
Breitling Transocean Chronograph 1915 (ref. AB141112/G799-154A) specification
Price: $9275 (MSRP)
Movement: Hand-wound, Caliber B14, in-house, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 33
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 70 hours
Movement decoration: “Cotes de Geneve” pattern, polished screws
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, chronograph
Case: Stainless steel
Size: 43.00 mm
Height: 14.60 mm
Lug width: 22/20 mm
Dial: Mercury Silver
Numerals: Arabic, luminous, beige
Hour markers: Black
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Natural leather or Crocodile leather strap / Ocean Classic steel mesh bracelet (pictured)
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective on both sides, convex