The 2015 Breitling Galactic Unitime SleekT 44 may be not as technically advanced as a GPS-capable Seiko Astron, yet it has a mojo similar to the Swiss brand’s most iconic “aviators” issued in the 1950s. What is even more surprising is that all this mojo trickles out of this beautiful timekeeper in a subtle, deliciously refined way: something that we have rarely seen from Breitling during the last decade or two.
Watches that one can refer to as “traveler’s companions” are gaining popularity and Breitling keeps expanding its line of worldtimers with new models.
After the dressy Transocean Unitime Pilot, stylish (yet way too massive for a normal guy) Transocean Chronograph Unitime World Time, and absolutely (although predictably) outrageous Bentley B05 Unitime Chronograph, the legendary Swiss-based watchmaker introduces yet another member to the growing family of timepieces designed for persons who have more miles behind their backs than some astronauts.
Based on their earlier Galactic 44 Automatic Chronometer that the brand has introduced back in November 2014, this new version features a less rugged design: it is clear that the timepiece’s goal is to suit the needs of those who prefer a made-to-measure business suit to an airline pilot’s uniform.
Breitling is known for its extremely busy, even cluttered dials with lots of unnecessary elements, like logarithmic scales and all sorts of aviation-themed converters. With this new Galactic Unitime SleekT, the company tried to keep things simple. It’s just a normal three-hander with a simple calendar and a simple city disk: the same that you can find in dozens of other luxury “worldtimers.” Even the dial uses the same unimaginative decore. Yes, the gadget may look boring for some, but at least it won’t take much time to learn how to operate this little beast.
While the three wristwatches mentioned in the first paragraph sported their in-house self-winding Caliber B05 with chronograph functionality, this one sports a simpler Caliber B35 that they, too, claim to manufacture on their own production facilities.
There is a mess with Breitling‘s current naming convention. While there has long been an ETA 2892-based Caliber B35 with an add-on flyback chronograph module, this one is a new variety. Built on 41 jewels, it is larger by whole 11 millimeters in diameter and features impressive 70 hours of guaranteed power reserve. The amount of energy that it offers not only puts it on par with their relatively new Caliber B01 but also means that you can leave the watch in your desk or a chest of drawers on Friday night and get it out on Monday morning still ticking seconds of your life away.
As usual, the mechanism is certified by COSC as a chronometer and, as usual, I wouldn’t be too excited about it: it’s not that Swiss engineers carefully test each and every mechanism for its compliance with the standard, it’s more like that they are in the same ballpark for accuracy and quality.
The oversized 44-millimeter body with the signature wing-shaped crown guards and onion-shaped winding/setting crown is still here. Still, the signature rotating bezel with its inevitable diving scale engraved over a machine-brushed surface was replaced for a mirror-polished polished part that is crafted from a lot denser tungsten (aka Wolfram, you probably know it as the material of choice for making spirals of incandescent bulbs) alloy. Not only the rare metal is more scratch-resistant than 316L-grade steel that we usually see when it comes even to luxury timekeepers, but it also looks extremely cooler with its well-polished dark grey surface. If matched by a black and grey dial that the brand prefers to call Trophy Black, the tungsten ring gives the Galactic Unitime SleekT an even more impressive appearance.
The “worldtimer” disk on this specimen looks exactly the same way as on the other one made by Breitling: once the home time is set, pull the crown to position “2” and keep turning the city disk until your current city of stay arrives at a position at 12 o’clock. The handy day/night indicator on the 24-hour chapter ring will tell you whether the time of day is set correctly so that the date indicator works the way that it should. From where I stand, the design is not as convenient as that an average GMT-capable timepiece has on offer, but it looks cool, I’ll give them that.
The only thing that I hate about this timekeeper is the traditional “Pilot” multilink bracelet that comes with the device. Although on computer renders the strap looks great with its nicely polished elements, even the real-life wrist-shot photo that was provided by Breitling shows honestly what a poor job it does in keeping the watch attached to your wrist. It may be as robust and dependable as a German executive sedan (the variety that was made back in the 1980s, of course), but it cheapens the beautiful three-hander with its layout.
What the Galactic Unitime SleekT needs is an Ocean Classic mesh steel bracelet or, if you prefer something more solid, a Navitimer bracelet that better fits the well-designed dial. This is all purely subjective and you can take a nice black crocodile leather strap or even a textile NATO band. Just throw away that poor stock bracelet as long as you take the watch out of the presentation box, dammit!
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 4/5
Nighttime Legibility: 4/5
Value for Money: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4/5
Breitling Galactic Unitime SleekT specification
Price: €8500 (MSRP)
Movement: Automatic, Breitling B35, in-house, COSC-certified chronometer, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 41
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 70 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, multiple time zones
Case and Crown: Stainless steel
Size: 44.00 mm
Case height: 15.30 mm
Lug width: 22/20 mm
Dial: Antarctica White / Trophy black
Hour markers: Luminous
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Stainless steel Pilot multi-link bracelet
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective on both sides, cambered