Breitling Chronomat 44 GMT Watch Review

Breitling Chronomat 44 GMT Watch Review

Breitling Chronomat 44 GMT Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

The Breitling Chronomat 44 GMT was not a timepiece I immediately sat down and wrote a review on - as is often the case with the watches I review. I mean, with at least one hands-on watch review a week, I don't exactly have a lot of time on aBlogtoWatch to delay these things. Nevertheless, I had so many potential directions to take with a review that I needed to ponder it for a while. Why? Well because I think it is a very important high-end watch in America (though it is a Swiss watch), and I wanted people to get a good idea of what that means.

That isn't to say Breitling is any less important internationally, but since I am American and we have a "fragile" view of high-end timepieces, I feel that Breitling does a lot to help the overall perception of that good watches are. In places such as Asia or Europe, it is common knowledge that luxury watches cost several thousand dollars (and more), and more or less what the main brands are. While that is more and more the case in the United States, your average person is not familiar with the high-end watch market - even though they may be familiar with the high-end automobile market. Having said that, Breitling is among a small handful of brands that are relatively well-known as "nice watch" makers in the US. Companies such as Breitling, Rolex, and Tag Heuer pull a lot of weight in advancing the segment as a whole across this large country.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9kBm7pKWLQ]

Breitling Chronomat 44 GMT Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

The net result of that responsibility is that these brands can't experiment too much. They have developed a fragile formula that works in a picky market, too much deviation from which could really effect their image. That is one reason brands like Breitling don't often release artsy limited edition models, or pieces that vastly stray from their carefully constructed "brand DNA." Having said that they still need to innovate. Like any company, there is an expectation among consumers that Breitling watches get better and better over time.

Breitling has done a pretty good job of following these rules. While a Breitling today looks similar to a Breitling from a few decades ago, there is no doubt that today's Breitling models are the best. Having said that, I believe it was the 1980s or so when the look and feel of the Breitling core design ethos as we know it took shape. That includes the intricate looking bezel, thick all highly-polished steel case and bracelet construction, as well as pilot instrument inspired dial. It is a look so iconic that it is sometimes difficult to understand all the details. One thing that continues to surprise me is how Breitling watch dials have a distinctive "busy" look, but never feel too difficult to read.

Breitling Chronomat 44 GMT Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

Which leads me into discussing this lovely Chronomat 44 GMT model. The dial has several distinct fonts, numeral indicator rings, hands, as well as several colors. Still, it is quickly apparent what functions the dial has, and reading the time, GMT hand, or chronograph hands is not difficult. That likely wasn't easy to do, but the result is a cool tool-watch look that is still refined and useful. I've accused Breitling watches of often looking the same. It's true. As much of an expert as I am, I often get the names and models of Breitling watches mixed up. You know it is a Breitling, but which Breitling is often a more difficult question.

For the newer Chronomat collection, Breitling designed a new bezel design and modern looking font. That gives all Chronomat models a distinguishable look - something Breitling wants you to see because each of these watches have in-house made movements. The original Chronomat from a few years ago was the first watch ever to contain an in-house made Breitling movement. It was the Chronomat B01 with the in-house made and designed caliber 01 movement. The 01 has served as a base for a few subsequent movements. The difference between the original Chronomat and this model is the addition of a GMT hand. Inside the Chronomat 44 GMT is a Breitling Caliber 04 automatic chronograph movement. It is a shame that the case does not have an exhibition case back because the movement is really quite nice looking. The 04 has a power reserve of 70 hours (which at around three days means you can safely not wear it for a whole weekend without it stopping), and the chronograph is column-wheel based. There are some other nice features as well, showing that Breitling didn't just make their own version of what they were already using from ETA.

Breitling Chronomat 44 GMT Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

Breitling Chronomat 44 GMT Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

Breitling ships the majority of their watches (perhaps all of them now that I come to think of it) with COSC Chronometer certifications, which is a measure of accuracy. Using the 12 hour chronograph is a pleasure with the assuring click of the screw-down pushers, though the rounded tip of the screw-down crown (while looking nice) isn't a totally ideal way of manually winding the movement when necessary. One quirk of the movement is sort of a blessing and a curse. Similar to movements such as the Omega 8500 or 9300, the Breitling Caliber 01 has a quick hour adjust feature for resetting the time while travelling without having to reset the minute hand. That is handy, however it is also the way you set the date (by rapidly advancing or going back in time with the hour hand). That means it takes a lot longer that simply adjusting the date disc one position at a time when you want to adjust the date. This isn't really an issue if you are simply correcting for a non 31 day month, but if you don't wear the piece all the time and don't have it on a winder, adjusting the date can be tedious. What I would have liked to see is a feature to have an additional way to adjust the date more rapidly. Maybe in the future.

Operating the movement is very pleasing. Breitling offers a top-notch experience that is sure to satisfy people interested in the watch as a high-performance machine versus status symbol. In fact, that is one of the main reasons Breitling does well in the United States. That being because people don't just see it as luxury item, but rather as a solid and good looking high-end tool watch. While the brand and watch construction is totally Swiss, there is a certain American feel to the design of the Chronomat. This particular dial is black with silvered subdials, but other color versions are available.

Breitling Chronomat 44 GMT Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

Other than the Colt and Superocean GMT, Breitling does not offer a lot of GMT models. It was a good idea for Breitling to add this popular second time zone complication to its core chronograph movement. These two complications together make for a very useful travel watch. The GMT hand is tipped with a large red arrow and is very easy to see. Around the hour markers is a 24 hour scale for the GMT hand, which really helps when trying to read it. There is also a second GMT time scale on the rotating bezel. This can either be used in addition to the ring on the dial, or rotated give you the ability to track a third timezone. The dial also contains a tachymeter scale on the flange. That isn't a particularly useful feature, but Breitling added it in to help the dial look its best, and as "Breitling" as possible.

Detailing all over the watch is fantastic. Breitling cases and dials are very well machined and rendered. Closeup images of the dial show just how crisp the print and hands are. I want to say here that photographing the dial of the Chronomat 44 GMT was a total pain. That is often the case when you need to use a flash and dials have reflective elements (even though the sapphire crystal is AR coated)... and a Breitling watch that doesn't have reflective elements is practically sacrilege. The hands and hour markers also use a respectable amount of SuperLumiNova for night viewing. While the amount of lume doesn't look to be a lot, the application is sufficient to make the piece easy to read after only being charged by light for a bit. There is a large lume pip on the bezel as well.

Breitling Chronomat 44 GMT Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

Breitling Chronomat 44 GMT Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

Highly polished steel cases are sort of a hallmark of Breitling watches. They help take the pieces from being mere tools to also style items. It is Breitling's not so subtle, subtle way of adding bling to otherwise serious utilitarian designs. I get to handle a lot of polished steel and steel cases. Breitling takes their cases quite seriously using very good metal and applying very good polishing techniques. One of the only non-polished areas on the watch is the surface of the bezel. The brushed steel makes for a nice contrast. The Chronomat 44 GMT is heavy, and feels super solid. It is also water resistant to 200 meters. So by all means take it for a little dive.

The caseback is deeply engraved and screwed down. Breitling has done a good job of making it feel very much like an instrument that is meant to last for decades. One downside of all the polishing is that the case, like most highly polished steel watches, is prone to picking up hairline scuffs and scratches. That is sort of inevitable, but most people who buy a Breitling enjoy when it looks as though it has been actually used a bit. Jerry Seinfeld is a good example. One story known to Breitling dealers is that one time Seinfeld brought in a few of his Breitling watches for service (he has a lot of them). He asked that the cases not be polished. It is typical for cases to be polished during service by the way. Apparently the message did not go through and the watches did get polished. Seinfeld saw the signs of wear on the cases are a testament to what he put them through and as an emotional attachment to each of the watches. He totally flipped out when he got his watches back.

Breitling Chronomat 44 GMT Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

Breitling Chronomat 44 GMT Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

As the name implies, the Chronomat 44 GMT comes in a 44mm wide case. Given the wide lugs is sits a bit large on the wrist - which I like. Having said that, I personally can only wear this smaller size version of the Chronomat GMT. The original version which is just called the "Chronomat GMT" is 47mm wide. It looks the same but is just larger. Even if you can normally wear 47mm wide watches (as I do sometimes), you might want to try it on first if the 44 sounds too small for you. The lugs are very long and you should ensure that the they don't extend off your wrist. Attached to the Chronomat 44 GMT here is one of Breitling's nice steel "Pilot" bracelets. It also comes in a range of straps, which include Barenia leather, crocodile leather, Ocean Racer rubber, and Diver Pro rubber.

As a steel watch, the Chronomat 44 GMT is among the more expensive Breitling watches, mainly because of its in-house made movement. When I first saw this piece it impressed me enough to be included in my list of top watches from Baselworld 2012 (see article here). After reviewing it I still feel that it is a very good watch and certainly worth the real estate space on your wrist. At around $10,000 the competition is fierce for high-end sport watches. With a solid brand name and a good design, the Chronomat 44 GMT epitomizes what the brand is known best for (especially in the US). Price on the bracelet is $9,820.

Necessary Data
>Brand: Breitling
>Model: Chronomat 44 GMT
>Price: $9,820
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes
>Friend we'd recommend it to first: Someone with at least one professional vehicle license who wants a handsome daily wear.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Hard to keep polished steel case 'mint' looking
>Best characteristic of watch: Sensible all-around luxury watch that doesn't make you feel like a one percenter.

15 comments
ruerivoli777
ruerivoli777

...typo, my apologies. B04 movement, which is B01 based +GMT. Get one in the 44 size and your great great great grandkids will be glad you did.

ruerivoli777
ruerivoli777

By and far the finest GMT I've owned, and I've had all the good ones under $10K. I think this watch is a real sleeper and when it's one day no longer made it will be highly sought after. It's as rugged as a tank (bracelet as well), has the B01 movement which has been amazingly accurate, it not only has a GMT function but also a tachymeter on the inner bezel, screw down crowns so I can swim with it, and the GMT numbers on the bezel are subtle and not obnoxious like on the rolex and several others. It's a sedate piece that draws the admiration of watch lovers and not the attention of punk thieves. I've worn it everyday for a year and it looks brand new, and only loses about a minute a week. Bravo Breitling. I've had 5 and was never a huge fan of any of them until now.

marbstiu
marbstiu

Love this. But got the transocean chrono instead. Too many font types on this chronomat - not digging the normal font + digital looking font

mlopicic
mlopicic

I have bought a Breitling Watch AB0110 – Chronomat 01. From the very beginning once the clock was winded and adjusted it was running fast. Every 15 days it was running fast some 5 minutes. The watch was returned to the local Breitling retailer in Montenegro (Monte Jewelry and Watches)and the watch wassent for calibration to the main Service in Belgrade. After calibration the watch was fully winded and adjusted and it was also running 5 minutes ahead for the period of 15 days. After the second calibration and service the watch is now running some 4 minutes slow for the period of 20 days.
I urge everyone not to buy Breitling watches as they are not good value for money and if the watch is faulty like in my case you will not get the right customer treatment. I have to sue the local retailer in order to get a replacement. I cant believe that I could have all these problems with a “renowned” watch manufacturer such as Breitling. My advice is - stay away from Breitling. Please feel free to contact me about my ordeal +38269234565.

Bigbenz
Bigbenz

Ariel,

I always study and admire your photography, as well as the watch itself. In looking closely at your straight-on shot of the horizontal Breitling, I see a perfect visual essay on the fine art of photographing the small and beautiful. Here's looking at you, kid!

MID
MID

I own two older Breitling watches (including an older Chronomat and a B1, the best ana-digi ever) but the new Chronomat line is a mess.  It's too busy, too blingy.  The bezel looks like the numbers you find on the bottom of your checks.  The face is a hodge-podge of styles.  It has more fonts than Microsoft Office. (And, as an aside, most, if not all, of the slide rule bezels on current Breitlings lack a time scale, showing that the slide rule isn't even pretending to be useful, and is just decoration.)  I thing this watch will appeal to rappers.

All that being said, there is no denying the technical excellence of the B01 series movements or the high quality of the final product, though very expensive, perhaps too expensive.  I just wish I could like the design better.  (Now, let Klaus Ulbrich loose on Breitling, and see what happens!)

For me, the ultimate GMT chrono  is the Seiko Spring Drive.  (I have the Ananta SPS009, with the balck dial.)  It is beautifully and coherently designed.  The Swiss have nothing on the movement.  It is supremely accurate.  And the retail price is just less than two thirds that of the Breitling Chronomat 44 GMT. (The Grand Seiko version is the same $10k as the Breitling.) 

TheBigOldDog
TheBigOldDog

"These brands can't experiment too much. They have developed a fragile formula that works in a picky market..."

Ariel, if you haven't already, I suggest you read a few articles written by Clay Christensen about what he calls "The innovators Dilemma." I think you will find them very informative. 

DangerussArt
DangerussArt

I'm a Breitling fan, and own several, but this one leaves me cold. Too many mis-matched fonts and especially the "modern" font choice, just ruin it for me. I'm also bothered by the crown shape. I much prefer the Skyland or Super Avenger style to this "fireplug" style.  It's not a horrible watch by any means, but for me to even consider spending $10K, I'd have to love every bit of it. 

Panagiotis
Panagiotis

Truth be told, no Breitling can be appreciated by the photos alone. I was never a fan before i actually wore one and the high-end tool vibe they give off is fantastic.

While the brand has other offerings that are more coherent in their design, they have ALWAYS had quirky mix & match styles and this is nothing new. From the two-tone ana-digis to the white-on-white slide-rule Datora's to almost everything in their line-up. Apart from the Transoceans and SO Heritage line. So you might say that quirkiness is as much part of the brand's DNA as the slide rule is...

Bottom line for me is that they grow on you if you give them the chance. Oh and Kris C, their bracelets RULE as i'm sure you know :)

SuperStrapper
SuperStrapper

Much like Ulysses, I'm a fan of this brand, but not this line. The round crown and gimmicky bezel (with a font I would liken more to pac-man, over sci-fi) are just not my cups of tea. Love that bracelet though...

Zeitblom
Zeitblom

Mr Adams,

I really like the ``necessary data'' summary at the end of the review. Might I suggest that you have such a summary at the end of all of your reviews, and that you expand it a bit and make it more precise? For example, you say that the watch feels heavy. How heavy is it exactly? This is a very important datum for me; I like heavy watches. How thick is it? Again, you say that this watch faces serious competition at the $10K mark. From what watches exactly? That sort of thing. Thanks!

ps: I don't like this watch. But I know that as a result of your review. Thanks! :-)

Ulysses31
Ulysses31

I've never liked this style of Breitling.  They make some beautiful models but this isn't one of them.  That thick ugly bezel with the stupid sci-fi font, and the mish-mash of all kinds of fonts used on the dial and tachymeter ring make the watch look cluttered.  It's a pick-and-mix of the old and the new and makes the watch distinctive in a bad way.  I know many people really love this thing but I am sick of this jumbled 'design-DNA'.  There's a weird-looking scratch on the bezel by the '4'; hopefully not an indication of how robust the watch is, but more likely an accident from a previous reviewer.

Ariel Adams
Ariel Adams

Thank you. That is super nice to hear. I do put a lot of effort into the photography.

Ariel Adams
Ariel Adams

Don't you love our first world problems? We are sitting here arguing about fonts used on an expensive timepiece. I will drink to that.

Ariel Adams
Ariel Adams

We just added this feature and will be including the "Necessary Data" details in all upcoming reviews. All the tech specs you are talking about ARE important, but always available the most accurate from the brands or retailers. Plus, not everyone cares about the weight like you... We will attempt to include this more specific data when possible. Thanks so much.

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