September 22, 2016
by Kenny Yeo
I’m quite fond of the Chronoliner watch that was launched last year by Breitling. It wasn’t Breitling’s first vintage-inspired watch, of course – there’s the entire Transocean collection for that – but I thought that the Chronoliner offered a better mix of vintage-inspired looks and modern toughness and reliability. At this point, I would like to draw your attention to the ceramic bezel, which as I’m sure most readers will know, is virtually scratch- and fade-proof. Plus, the bezel rotates, which means the Chronoliner is capable of tracking up to three time zones simultaneously – a big plus for functionality. For this year, Breitling has updated the looks with an all-black version called – quite aptly, I might add – the Breitling Chronoliner Blacksteel.
The new Breitling Chronoliner Blacksteel that you see here is essentially a blacked-out version of the original Chronoliner that debuted last year. The case is still crafted out of steel, but it has been given a carbon-based treatment which makes it black but, more importantly, also makes it more resistant to the rigors of daily wear. The case size and thickness are both unchanged at 46mm and 15.95mm, respectively, which means that the Breitling Chronoliner Blacksteel is a big, chunky watch but not out of the norm by Breitling standards. It has also retained the black bidirectional ceramic bezel and vintage-style pushers which I love. Water resistance is 100m, which is only fitting for a sports watch.
What has changed, however, is the dial, hands, and strap. Instead of the “panda” dial with cream-white subdials, the Breitling Chronoliner Blacksteel has, you guessed it, an all-black dial. That said, legibility isn’t hampered because the subdials are slightly recessed and come in a slightly lighter shade.
The other major change is the strap. While the Chronoliner was offered in a choice of Breitling’s Ocean Classic mesh strap or a Navitimer style steel bracelet, the Breitling Chronoliner Blacksteel will be offered with a rather unusual rubber strap that has been designed to mimic the look of mesh straps. Breitling calls this the Rubber Aero Classic rubber strap.
Finally, the hands have been given a blacked-out treatment as well, but legibility doesn’t seem to have been adversely affected since the hands and hour markers have generous amounts of luminescence on them. That said, the GMT hand does seem to be a little difficult to spot since it’s so small, but this is a problem that’s carried over from the older Chronoliner.
Inside, the Breitling Chronoliner Blacksteel is powered by the Breitling 24 caliber, which is really Breitling-speak for a Valjoux 7754. It combines the chronograph function with a GMT module, and it’s a time-tested movement that we have no complaints about. Along with the 24-hour markings on the dial and the bidirectional bezel, as noted, this means that the Breitling Chronoliner Blacksteel can track time in up to three timezones simultaneously. Power reserve is an adequate 42 hours. And since it’s a Brielting, the watch is of course chronometer-certified by COSC, so accuracy shouldn’t be an issue.
Although blacked-out watches are not new, it is only recently that big luxury brands like Breitling, Tudor, and Cartier have started offering blacked out watches such as this. And, on first impression, the new Breitling Chronoliner Blacksteel looks like a successful interpretation of this (relatively simple) trend. The Breitling Chronoliner Blacksteel is priced at $8,600. breitling.com