Welcome to the latest edition in our Cost of Entry series where we explore the entry point to some of the world's most well-known luxury watch brands. Throughout this series we have covered Rolex, Omega, Hublot, Panerai, and Cartier, and now we're going to see what Breitling has to offer. As often is the case, there are varying entry points when it comes to quartz offerings and mechanical offerings so we will just go ahead and look at both here.
The absolute most affordable watch by Breitling is the new quartz Colt Skyracer at $2,000, while the Colt Automatic and Colt 41 Automatic are each available in configurations just around $3,100. We'll also discuss the Superocean II 42 on a rubber strap that, being within a retailer's discount range of the Colt Automatic's price, in the mid-$3,000 range, is also worth noting. That's a big gap between the pricing, so let's see what exactly what we're working with, not just with these three watches but a couple of alternatives as well.
Brietling has been producing watches since 1884 and is one of the most well-known, recognized, and polarizing brands today. There's a rich history of aviation and and pilot's watches with the Navitimer and Chronomat being two of the most popular from the brand. An association with military and aggressive, macho, and not least of all, large watches with busy, technical-looking dials characterize the brand in many people's minds. Chronographs are also a big part of Breitling's history and persona, but for this article on the brand's most affordable offerings, we will be sticking to three-handers. The history of Breitling could be an entirely separate article itself but suffice it to say that it is often seen as one of the most established mainstream luxury brands, and yet, remarkably, Breitling remained among the last major independent brands until just this year.
The Breitling Colt has always been and still is the entry-level line from the brand. Breitling took a big measure in making the brand more accessible to a younger demographic when they introduced the Colt Skyracer in the brand's own Breitlight carbon case material in February of this year (2017) priced at $2,000, which is about $1,200 less than a standard steel quartz Colt model on a metal bracelet at $3,200. As for the 44mm Breitling Colt Automatic or the Breitling 41 Colt Automatic (41mm, of course) each on a leather strap, a price of $3,090 makes it Breitling's current most affordable mechanical offering.
The Colt is recognizable partly for its bezel that has indices that are etched rather than painted or applied, and instead of a smooth surface all around, you find four raised "riders" at 12, 3, 6, and 9. Supposedly, the idea is that you could operate the bezel without seeing it in order to approximate its placement due to the rider at 12 featuring a solitary lume-treated dot providing a tactile cue as well as being extra noticeable in low-lighting situations.
The Bretling Colt Skyracer measures a hefty 45mm wide and 13.5mm thick, so expect it to wear on the larger side, which is really par for the course for any Breitling watch. The case is done in the black carbon composite the brand refers to as Breitlight, which is less than 1/3 the weight of titanium while still being very strong. Of course, you've got the black rubber strap here which cleverly adds an easy release system and has markings which allow it to double as a measurement tool with inch and centimeter markings.
Of course, it's a quartz movement, but not just any quartz movement. This Colt features the Breitling 74 SuperQuartz which is really an ETA Thermoline 955.652. Breitling dubs it as "thermocompensated" which simply means that it uses a system that regulates the effects of temperature on the accuracy of the quartz regulator. All of this boils down to an accuracy within 10 seconds a year. The brand claims this to be ten times more accurate than your standard quartz movement and, to top it all off, they are COSC certified, as is the case with all Breitlings. Like other quartz watches, the "set it and forget it" functionality, for some professionals, may be a huge advantage over the automatic. With a 100m water resistance and sapphire crystal to round up the stats, it's reliable, accurate, legible, and carries the Breitling logo for $2,000. That's really got to be appealing to younger buyers or those who prefer the convenience, accuracy, and affordability of a quartz watch.
The Breitling Colt Automatic is most representative of the Colt line, coming in at 44mm wide and 11.15mm thick (making it thinner than the quartz Skyracer, actually) with a 200m water resistance. It comes in stainless steel with a matching steel bracelet. With the same dial layout as the Skyracer, the Colt Automatic's dial is definitely more textured and vibrant with applied indices whereas the Skyracer's numerals are printed (though including shadows to create an illusion of depth).
The Superocean II 42 is available on a rubber strap which brings its cost down to $3,400 (it's $3,900 on a steel bracelet). The Superocean II 42 is, you guessed it, 42mm wide and 13.3mm thick, and it is available with a black or blue dial with matching rubber straps. The water resistance of 500m is no joke, though.