Breitling's Super Chronomat 44 Four-Year Calendar.
Breitling's Super Chronomat 44 Four-Year Calendar.
Image: Supplied

Premium sports watches remain a key focus for 2021 and, while they retain their robustness, they are starting to look more elegant in design. Made to accompany any attire and new adventure, they are also becoming more practical through technical updates such as extended power reserves, anti-magnetism, improved precision, and interchangeable straps. Breitling, the brand most associated with aviation, reintroduced its Chronomat line last year and, for 2021, has added six new Super Chronomat references.

This all-purpose sports watch collection, based on one of its coolest icons from the 1980s, is reworked for a new generation of chronograph fans. As the inventors of the first chronograph with a central seconds hand and one of the first automatic chronographs in 1969, it’s fair to say that chronographs are in Breitling’s DNA.

The original Chronomat is also significant in that it represented a bold return to mechanical watchmaking following the upheaval caused to the Swiss industry by the quartz crisis. The Chronomat began its life in 1983 as a timepiece specifically developed for the aerobatic demonstration team of the Italian Air Force. The brief was to make a watch that was sturdy and legible enough for the cockpit but also elegant enough for leisure time.

With the versatility of its tachymeter, it also became an instant hit with racing drivers, and its reversible bezel riders made it the perfect tool for yacht racing by offering a count-up and count-down feature for regattas. The new, refined, modern interpretation of that watch straddles all three of the brand’s universes — air, land, sea — while retaining three iconic elements of the original.

These include a bezel design that references those rider tabs, which now only serve to protect the sapphire crystal, the tachymeter scale on the inner bezel, and the signature Rouleaux bracelet. While the trend appears to be down-sizing, joining the 32mm, 36mm and 42mm models from 2020 are the new super-sized 44mm Super Chronomat references with ceramic inserts on the bezel, the pushers, and on the crown, as well as an optional Rouleaux-inspired rubber strap to set between those generous lugs.

Our featured timepiece is the stainless-steel and 18K red-gold Super Chronomat  44 Four-Year Calendar  with black ceramic, which is waterproof to 100m and powered by the self-winding Breitling Calibre 19, a Cosc-certified chronometer with a semiperpetual calendar mechanism that only needs adjusting once every leap year. It is also offered in blue ceramic detailing on a two-tone metal bracelet. The 44 FourYear Calendar features a ¼ of a second chronograph, 30-minute and 12-hour totalisers, and displays day, date, month and moon-phase.

Despite the complex calendar, it offers a 42-hour power reserve. Included in the lineup are three Super Chronomat B01 44, one in steel with blue ceramic bezel and dial, an 18K red gold with brown ceramic and satin brown dial, and a steel-and-black version featuring a quartz Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) module embedded in the Rouleaux bracelet: a gimmicky hangover from the 1980s to track a second time zone. These models are waterproof to 200m and are powered by the self-winding Breitling Manufacture Calibre 01, with a 70-hour power reserve.

The stainless-steel and 18K red-gold Super Chronomat 44 Four-Year Calendar with black ceramic retails for R259 600, and the 18K red-gold and brown for R415 600. The Super Chronomat B01 44 starts at R150 700.

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 From the June edition of Wanted, 2021.

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