A Swiss watchmaker from Grenchen has presented a special version of its Chronomat 44 model made for the Frecce Triclori, the aerobatics team of the Italian airforce. The new timekeeper incorporates the logo of the famous flying patrol in its design, as well as the engraved silhouette of the Frecce Tricolori’s recognizable Aermacchi airplanes in formation on the back of its case. Apart from the watches that will be worn by pilots of the team, Breitling is launching a 1,000-piece limited edition of the timekeeper equipped with its proprietary B 01 automatic caliber.
As a Chronomat 44-based model, Breitling Frecce Tricolori timepiece has outstanding features, which is caused by the inclusion of the brand’s iconic chronograph movement, as well as by its exceptionally sturdy construction that insures water resistance to 500 meters. The beating heart of the watch is Breitling 01, the brand’s first in-house movement. It is a self-winding caliber with 47 jewels, the frequency of 4 Hz, and a chrono feature with the accuracy of 1/4th of a second. The B-01 movement is fitted into a round housing with the width of 44mm and the thickness of 16.75mm. The case and its bezel which sports dark rubber-incrusted numerals are made of stainless steel with alternating finishes: satin-brushed for top sides and polished finish for the sides. It is possible to pair the limited edition with the choice of different attachments which include a new type of a rubber strap with the embossed brand’s name on it.
The new timepiece was recently officially presented to the members of the Frecce Tricoloori team at the event at Rivolto airbase.
The Historical Collaboration of Breitling and the Italian Aerobats
The collaboration between the Swiss brand and the Italian aeronautical acrobats started before almost three decades, and the new special series is just the latest fruit of said collaboration. In order to underline the longevity and the importance of the partnership in the brand history, Breitling decided to base the new model on the original one. For this reason, the watch has a black face, just like it was the case with the first collaborative timekeeper which was launched in 1984. Still, there are many differences between them. As far as the appearance is concerned, the new watch has a different outlay and the color of sub-dials (the counters are silver and include red hands). Besides, this time the logo (comprised of three arrows in the colors of the Italian flag) and the name (PAN Frecce Tricolori ) of the Italian team sit at the top of the face.
The Rebirth of Chronomat – A Modern Pilot’s Chronograph Shaped by the Frecce Tricolori Pilots
As it has been mentioned, the importance of the partnership between the Swiss watchmaker and the Italian pilots is quite significant for the history of the brand from Grenchen, and especially for the Chronomat series. The pilots of Frecce Triclori team were not only wearing Breitling timekeepers, they were also involved in the creation of the first modern-day Chronomat, made several years after Breitling restarted the production under the new ownership in the late 1970s.
The Rise and the Fall of Chronomats and Breitling
Chronomat initially appeared during the 1940s as a military-commissioned mechanical chronograph with a slide rule bezel. It was a very successful piece which was subsequently presented in many different incarnations, with one of the most notable being the first automatic chronograph launched at the end of the 1960s.
Then came a period when the Chronomat model in a way suffered along with the brand and the entire watchmaking industry which was shaken after the appearance of quartz timekeepers. The example for this is the version of Navitimer launched in 1970. It was made with a quartz module without the chronograph complication which was one of the recognizable characteristics of the model up to that point.
A Start of a New Era
In the following years, the production in Grenchen first came to a halt in 1977. One year later, Breitling was sold and the new ownership soon started producing wristwatches once again. Still, Chronomats were not relaunched immediately. But when they returned to the market, these timekeepers lived up to the reputation of the series. The new watch was the first timekeeper by Breitling with self-winding Valjoux 7750 chronograph caliber with 17 jewels and it was named Navitimer Chronomat 81950. It was intended for pilots and designed with the input from members of the Pattuglia Acrobatica Nazionale Frecce Tricolori. The modifications recommended by members of the patrol were included in the design, for example the timekeeper was made with a larger crown and pushers so that its functions can be utilized easier while wearing gloves. There was also a slight tweaking of the rider tab at the 60 position.
The revamped Chronomat was also the first one in its line to be constructed with the bezel that includes rider tabs (for 15, 30, 45 and 60 positions) which was conceived by the new head of the new Breitling Ernest Schneider. This design made the watch another star form the brand’s flagship series and it served as a model for the editions that followed. In the same year it appeared, Breitling launched the limited edition whose dial displayed the logo of the Frecce Tricolori, the aerobatics patrol whose members were employed as advisers in the design of the first modern Chronomat.
Chronomats with In-House Calibers
Recently, Breitling started introducing timekeepers with proprietary movements in the Chronomat series and with different layout of the subdials, as well as with visual changers on the bezel, though the collection still includes Chronomat Calibre 13 watch with the original style and B 13 movement that uses Valjoux 7750 as the base caliber.