When aBlogtoWatch met with Breitling at Baselworld 2015 (to be honest, they had so many new products, we needed to meet with them twice), the watch I was most excited to see hands-on was the new Breitling Chronoliner (that I originally debuted on aBlogtoWatch here). Why was I excited to see it? Well, in addition to having a relatively “subdued” dial design (in the scheme of Breilting watches, that is), it was also the first Breitling watch with a ceramic bezel… and it didn’t come with a wild price (even though it isn’t exactly entry-level).
Not everyone loved the looks of the Breitling Chronoliner. That’s fine. Not everyone is a Breitling fan, but I will say that the more hands-on time I find that people get with Breitling watches, the more they become fans. I personally wasn’t a huge fan of Breitling initially – but after spending enough time with their products, I fully appreciate why the brand is as successful as it is. You can disagree if you like, but I like a lot of what the brand does, even if some of their products are very similar to each other and there are products in their collection that I wouldn’t personally wear.
Hands-on, the Breitling Chronoliner does not disappoint. Inside the watch is a Breitling caliber 24 which is just their way of saying a Swiss ETA Valjoux 7754 automatic chronograph. This is the famed Valjoux 7750 with a GMT hand module, which adds some extra functionality to the dial. Thus, you have the time, 12-hour chronograph, date, and a GMT hand for a second time zone. More so, you can track three total time zones because in addition to being a dedicated 24-hour scale on the dial, there is also a rotating 24-hour scale bezel.
The bezel, in black ceramic, feels as hefty and smooth as Breitling’s metal bezels. The numerals on the bezel are painted in a cream color to match the lume color on the hands and hour markers, and the print is extremely legible. Turning the bezel feels secure, and because the material is ceramic, you know that it will not scratch and wear as metal does over time. While this is a subtle addition, I think it is about time for Breitling to start adding ceramic as a material option for its timepieces, given the extreme popularity of ceramic and its advantages over metal in certain areas. Ceramic isn’t a replacement for metal altogether, but in the right circumstances it can add value or durability.
At 46mm wide, the Chronoliner isn’t a small timepiece. The case design is actually rather classic with its plunger-style chronograph pushers and polished surfaces. With that said, it fits large on the wrist, as many Breitling watches do, so wearers can get a traditional look with a bold, contemporary presence on the wrist. The case is also water resistant to 100 meters, and over the dial is a nicely AR-coated domed sapphire crystal that isn’t as much of a glare magnet as it could be.
Inspired by some Breitling watch designs from the 1950s and 1960s, it isn’t exactly an accident that the Breitling Chronoliner has a retro feel to it. With that said, I would not call it a retro-styled watch at all. There are just too many contemporary elements in terms of size, design, fonts, and materials for the Chronoliner to fit within the “modern retro” watch category. With that said, some of the most obvious “retro” elements are really just about dial simplicity and having a high-contrast dial. The dial isn’t flat however, with lightly recessed chronograph subdials and a beautiful looking “panda” coloration with the off-white mixed with the matte black background. The only hint of color on the dial is the red tip of the GMT hand. More so, the use of an off-white versus a bright white for the light elements of the dial prevents the watch from clashing too hard if the wearer doesn’t have solid white clothing on.
An interesting design feature of the dial is the slightly larger size of the chronograph minutes subdial, as well as the different hand design used for that subdial that has a bit of lume on the tip. This is a difficult-to-notice detail but something that makes the Breitling Chronoliner dial look just that much more unique. In many ways, the reason that I like the Breitling Chronoliner as much as I do is that it is a modern Breitling, inspired by traditional chronograph sports watch aesthetic rules, in a handsome package that has a lot of fashion versatility to it.
Interestingly, Breitling offers the Chronoliner with two bracelet options – even though the watch would look equally nice on a series of strap choices. Not that many people play around with swapping about straps on Breitling watches (because the ones they come with tend to be really good), but for some watches, it can work. One bracelet option for the Breitling Chronoliner is the mesh metal “Ocean Classic” which happens to look really sharp with the watch (even though mesh metal bracelets aren’t typically my favorite). Breitling is also offering their more popular Navitimer bracelet for the Breitling Chronoliner (which actually costs appreciably more than the Ocean Classic bracelet.
A fine watch all around for those who are keen on the design the Breitling Chronoliner should offer a solid wearing experience in a range of situations. Breitling would have a mega hit on their hands if they just shaved a bit off the price, though, as the Breitling Chronoliner verges too close to the territory of Brietling’s watches with in-house made movements.
Prices for the Breitling Chronoliner are $7,575 on the Ocean Classic mesh metal bracelet and $8,420 on the Navitimer bracelet. breitling.com