The Breitling Chronomat B01 faithfully follows the Breitling pilot-watch tradition. Its contemporary design includes functional details like a rotating bezel as well as other design elements that are purely decorative. An extreme attention to detail is evident on the dial, whose central element is a square with its edges defined by the center points of the three subdials. The ridged patterns in the subdials change according to which half falls within this square area: outside the square, the pattern is radiating circles; inside, it is vertical ridges. The hour-counter subdial at 6 o’clock is divided into quarters. The hands on the subdials incorporate the square shape, and the quarter-hour markers on the bezel are also square. Even the angular typography of the numerals on the subdials and bezel (with its square “zero”) reinforce this bold style. The three different numeral fonts add interest, but in this case, more restraint would have made a stronger overall statement, and the font style of the numerals on the bezel takes some getting used to. Generally speaking, though, we liked the design of the Chronomat B01 very much.
The IWC watch makes an even sturdier overall impression due to its larger diameter. All the numerals are executed in the same type found on other Ingenieur models. The standout features of the gg Ingenieur Chronograph’s dial are the subdials located at the top and bottom, with a silver ridged structure that sets them off from the rest of the black main dial. A geometric pattern fills the inner section of the dial. Luminous coating is applied deep within the grooves of the silver-colored markers, whose shape reflects the elongated hour and minute hands. The Ingenieur case has rectangular pushers that are neatly integrated with the crown guard and bezel.
The Ingenieur is only available with a single dial type and in two case materials (steel or rose gold). The Breitling Chronomat B01 is available with a wide range of different dials, with markers or Roman numerals, in steel or gold (or various combinations), and with a number of different straps and bracelets.
The time and date are easy to read on the black dial of the Breitling watch. However, it’s a bit difficult to read the elapsed minutes and hours on the small subdials with their silver hands. The IWC chalks up double the points in this category. First of all, and rather surprisingly, here the silver hands provide terrific contrast with the silver subdials. Also, the elapsed minutes and hours are cleverly combined on the top subdial with easy-to-read 12-hour and 60-minute divisions, as in a second-time-zone display. The effect is more striking over longer timed periods than shorter ones, and numerals on the hour track would have been helpful. But the sheer size of the dial aids in legibility.
The other side of the coin? The IWC Ingenieur’s 45.5-mm case needs the width of a large wrist as a counterbalance. The watch overwhelms a normal wrist and doesn’t fit snugly. On a steel bracelet, it feels top-heavy and so must be worn tightly to keep it from sliding around. In contrast, the Breitling Chronomat B01 does not appear overly large despite its diameter of 43.5 mm, and it’s also more comfortable to wear. It lies snugly against the wrist, thanks in part to the supple rubber strap and adjustable strap extension integrated into the clasp. The Breitling clasp has a two-button deployment system that is attractive, easy to use and nicely finished. The rubber strap appears quite plain in comparison; luckily, the Chronomat also comes with a crocodile or calfskin strap or a metal bracelet.
The IWC Ingenieur Chronograph is also available with a crocodile strap or a stainless-steel bracelet. The bracelet can be adjusted without a screwdriver, and the single-button deployant clasp is surprisingly flat. However, the two hinged parts of the clasp are made of thin metal and shouldn’t be subjected to excess pressure when open. Both bracelet and clasp boast superb finishing: the bracelet’s carefully beveled and polished edges highlight the line finish on all other surfaces, perfectly matching the extraordinarily fine finishing on the watch case.
The IWC Ingenieur’s two large pushers are easy to use. The screw-down crown is also large enough to easily grasp and turn. The hack mechanism and quick date adjustment simplify the accurate setting of the time and date.
Breitling’s watch also includes both of these useful features. In contrast to the Valjoux 7750, these two manufacture movements allow the date to be changed right before 12 o’clock without running the risk of damaging the movement. The fluted crown on the Breitling Chronomat is easy to grasp and turn, and the pushers are also screwed. Although this makes using the chronograph function somewhat more awkward, it does provide greater protection for the pushers and increases the water-resistance of the watch to 500 meters. Unfortunately, you’ll have to press the button rather firmly to start the chronograph, due to the design of the chronograph levers. The Chronomat’s unidirectional rotating bezel has 240 ratchets and turns smoothly but should be easier to grasp.
Interestingly, the dimensions of the two movements vary only slightly. Each has an impressively long power reserve of more than three days. Plus, both movements are equipped with a bidirectional winding system and have an elegant column-wheel mechanism. But if you examine the movements (and you’ll have to remove the caseback from the Breitling to do this) the differences are immediately clear. While IWC uses the same automatic shock-protection rotor bridge as in its Ingenieur movement 80111, the Breitling appears somewhat more conventional. Breitling wins points with a patented self-centering system for the zero position resetting hammers, a calendar with an instantly advancing date, and especially for the modern vertical clutch that prevents the chronograph seconds hand from jumping when it starts. Breitling added a shock-absorbing escape wheel to make the watch more resistant to impacts. Another bonus: the movement includes an index-assembly that allows the wearer to quickly and easily adjust the watch’s rate to his or her preferred speed. Breitling also produces its mainplates and bridges in-house, and sets its own jewels as well.
Good rate results
No exhibition caseback
Stiff chronograph-start pusher
Manufacturer: Breitling Chronometrie, Allée du Laser 10, CH-2300 La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
Reference number: AB0110-1022
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds; date; chronograph with seconds, 30-minute and 12-hour counters; unidirectional rotating bezel
Movement: Caliber B01, automatic; 28,800 vph; 47 jewels; Kif shock absorption, Glucydur balance; oscillating system with regulator and eccentric screw; diameter = 30 mm; height = 7.2 mm; 70–hour power reserve
Case: Stainless steel, double-sided non- reflective crystal, fully threaded stainless-steel caseback, screw-down pushers and crown, water-resistant to 500 meters
Strap and clasp: Natural rubber strap with two-button, stainless-steel safety folding clasp
Dimensions: Diameter = 43.5 mm, height = 16 mm, weight = 175 grams
Price: 7.150 Euros (on rubber strap)
Exquisitely finished case
Excellent rate results
Slow date change
Manufacturer: IWC Schaffhausen, Baumgartenstrasse 15, CH-8201 Schaffhausen, Switzerland
Reference number: IWC378401
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds; date; flyback chronograph with seconds, 60-minute and 12-hour counters
Movement: Caliber 89360, automatic; 28,800 vph; 40 jewels; Incabloc shock absorption; Glucydur balance; fine regulation with balance screws; diameter = 30 mm; height = 7.5 mm; 68-hour power reserve
Case: Stainless steel, double-sided non- reflective crystal, fully-threaded caseback, screw-down crown, water-resistant to 120 meters
Bracelet and clasp: Stainless steel bracelet with single-button, stainless-steel safety folding clasp
Dimensions: Diameter = 45.5 mm, height = 15 mm, weight 216 grams
PRICE (of the actual IWC Ingenieur Racer chronograph on bracelet): 12.700 Euros
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