June 25, 2015
by David Bredan
Breitling is a tough one for me. I have for long appreciated the engineering that goes into their watches and the overall quality all that results in – I have, however, just never fallen in that deep, relentless love with any of their designs thus far. That may be over now, as I saw the Breitling Colt Chronograph Automatic hands-on this year at Baselworld, and at last I could say: this may be it.
The devil is in the details, and the situation is no different this time around either. Pieces like those from the SuperAvenger or the Bentley collab’ collections always overwhelmed me (not in the most positive way) with their designs and, from the beginning, steered me away from being able to appreciate them on a finer level. The Breitling Colt may share a very similar case design as the Avenger, yet the former, with its 44mm case and, to my eyes much more fortunate proportions, somehow allowed me to approach it as a watch, and not as a flashy saucer that happens to tell the time. Sorry.
The Breitling Colt is nevertheless unmistakably Breitling, don’t get me wrong – and that is an extremely important element to it. The chunky bezel, even chunkier case, masculine proportions, and busy dial fail to drop a single link from the Breitling DNA. I just feel it’s Breitling toned down to a level where it is easier to appreciate – as opposed to when it is turned up to 11.
Inside the Breitling Colt Chronograph Automatic is the caliber B13, which is a COSC certified version of the ETA 7750. Twelve-hour chronograph, date, and running seconds is the ever-green feature set it offers, and that added guarantee of accuracy (somewhere between -4/+6 seconds per day) is a most welcome addition. It’s nice to have brains to go with the beauty.
Speaking of beauty, let’s see where that is stemming from. The size is nothing to write home about; at 44mm wide, it will be considered rather big by most – unless you have larger wrists, of course. And indeed, the Breitling Colt wears big, and yet it feels comfortable on this blue rubber strap, that offers subdued, non-branded looks paired with decent wearing comfort. I will say that the strap may nonetheless be the weakest link for the Breitling Colt Chronograph Automatic, as its raised rectangular area and the overall color both feel a bit off, upon closer inspection.
The better news is that the Breitling Colt Chronograph can be purchased on a number of other straps – and with a 22mm lug-to-lug width, there’s an infinite number of aftermarket alternatives. The strap options from Breitling include leather straps in five different colors, a steel bracelet, or three different rubber straps. More importantly, it can come with a black or blue dial with white sub-dials, or a panda dial with black sub-dials on white. Blue is very much “in,” and I personally could only be tempted by the panda option.
I promised to, but have not yet addressed where the real appeal of this piece is coming from: the details. I would recommend scrutinizing these two pictures above, and you’ll likely see what I mean. For starters, the even, circular pattern across the dial serves as a great backdrop: it is not a very usual design element and yet one that, for some reason, lends a fine, albeit also rather tool-like aesthetic.
The hands, as you’ll see further above, are also of high quality, as they are long and wide enough – which helps a great deal in creating the overall, proportionate appearance of the watch. The main hands carry a substantial amount of off-white lume. Last but not certainly not least – as far as the respectable nuances of the dial are concerned – the print on the dial is super sharp and defined, down to the finest details. There may be some arguably superfluous elements, but the overall tool-watch nature remains perfectly intact, nonetheless.
The counterpoint to all these small details is a case that offers an interesting blend of angular and curved design elements. The lugs are curved, and this soft look is carried on by the crown, circular pushers with circular frames, and the curved case back. On the other hand, the crown guards, the four larger segments, and the smaller stick markings of the uni-directional diver’s bezel (a slightly more unusual but cool match with the chronograph function) bring in some angular design elements, just so as to save the Breitling Colt Chronograph Automatic from looking like it’s melting away with all those curves around it.
Beyond the details of the dial itself, the case is also of very high quality: it just feels super solid from step one, and what helps a great deal in achieving that is that it has a certain depth to both its polished and brushed surfaces that (while, of course, not exclusive to this piece) I wish I could see more often on other watches.
The Breitling Colt Chronograph Automatic is certainly nothing crazy new, either in terms of design, or in terms of more technical details. It is, however, what I find to be a very strong package of most all of what makes Breitling interesting – to me, at least. And while it could certainly use an in-house movement, that would bump up the price – and servicing costs – considerably. Seen here, on the rubber strap, the Breitling Colt Chronograph Automatic (reference A1338811) is priced at $4,800. breitling.com