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Breitling Chronomat Evolution, History and Review

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HISTORY AND BACKGROUND

The Chronomat Evolution is considered the Flagship model in the Breitling range. The first Chronomat model was launched in 1942, and was then the first chronograph to incorporate a slide rule, 12 years before the Navitimer. Rather than beeing a pilot's watch, the Chronomat's emphasis was rather on engineering and mathematics. Prime target beeing people working in science and industry.

The movement is the Venus 175, 17-jewels with a centre chronograph hand recording seconds, a minute chronograph register at 3 o'clock recording up to 45 minutes, and a running seconds hand on the sub-dial at 9 o'clock. The minute register has special markers for 3, 6 and 9 minutes, as long-distance phone calls were charged in 3-minute increments in most countries. Long distance and especially international 'toll' calls were very expensive at this time.

In 1969, the first automatic Chronomats were launched. They used the famous "Chrono-Matic" Calibre 11/12 microrotor-movement where Breitling and Heuer developed the base caliber and added the Dubois-Dépraz 8510 chronograph mechanism. The Chronomat proved to be a big seller, and powered by different calibers it stayed in the Breitling line up to the takeover by Schneider in 1978 During the late 1970ties there were even produced non-chronograph Chronomats, also some simple quartz models.

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1940ties Chronomat. Considered to be one of the most beautiful Breitlings. The Swiss cross and number on the dial refers to the Swiss government patent for the slide rule design. Note the special 3-minutes lines on the chrono-minute dial. The Venus 175 movement on the right.

The Chronomat was relaunched in 1984, marked the return of the mechanical chronograph. About ten years earlier, the Japanese quartz-watches had swept away almost all competition in the field of chronographs. The relaunched Chronomat was designed as a pilot watch, in close cooperation with the Italian Air Force Acrobatics team, "Pattuglia Acrobatica Nazionale Frecce Tricolori". The new Chronomat had the famous rider tabs on the bezel, designed to be easy to grip while wearing gloves in the cockpit.

As far as I know, most of the "new" Chronomats are powered by the 7750-based Breitling Calibre 13.

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Catalogue page from 1986. Fecce Tricolore and Navitimer Chronomat. The watch on the right has the "bullet" band that was extensively used by Breitling in the 1980ties.

During the 80ties and 90ties, Breitling moved on to make several special versions of the Chronomat. Yachting, Blackbird," Breitling for America", USAF 50 years and even Moonphase versions.. I wonder what practical use a pilot would have of a moonphase. This Chronomat version measured just 39.5mm compared to the 43.7mm of the Evolution.

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Cross-sectional view of the A13352. This version was made from 2000 to 2004, when the Evolution was launched. Note the design of the waterproof pushers

The Chronomat Evolution was launched at Basel in April, 2004. Its first catalogue appearance is in the 2005 Breitling Chronolog issued from October 2004. The Evolution is bigger in diameter, thickness and weight than the previous models and is quite a departure from the original 1984 Chronomat. One previously iconic feature, the straight case sides has been dropped; the Evolution has conventional lugs.

Like many updates to Breitling watches that have a loyal following, initially the new watch is unpopular with some Breitling owners but this is really a reflection of the esteem that is held for the existing model. Within a year or so the Evolution is much more accepted with most potential owners now enthusiastic about this latest version of the Chronomat. One thing that was never in doubt is the quality; it is a superbly designed and built watch with an extremely accurate, reliable and sturdy movement.

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My Chronomat Evolution replica and the information in the 2006 Chronolog.

Data on the Breitling Chronomat Evolution:

Movement:

Automatic, Breitling calibre 13 (based on Valjoux 7750)

COSC-certified chronometer

28,800 vph

25 jewels

Chronograph to 1/4 of a second

Case:

Steel, bi-colour; yellow or white 18K

43.7mm diameter, 17.1mm thick, 22mm between lugs

Screw-down crown and safety pushers

Unidirectional rotating ratcheted bezel

Cambered sapphire crystal with antiglare both sides

Water resistant to 300 M (previously 100 M)

Dial:

Engine-turned

Baton hour markers with big numerals on subdials angled from centre; or arabic hour markers with small conventional subdials numerals.

Bracelet/strap options:

PILOT bracelet to match watch case metal(s)

Barénia or crocodile leather strap

DIVER PRO rubber strap

Most information in this history part is taken from the excellent Article by Alan Trott on watchuseek.com.

A very informative and well-written article comparison between the Chronomat Evolution and the Omega Speedmaster Professional "Moonwatch" is available HERE!

]

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A big closeup picture of the dial of the real deal, to show the details. The Breitling dial has a magnificent finish, which is supirior to the replica. As you should expect, costing more than 10x the price! Note the pearl-like finish, the latest rep has more of a flat-white.

EVOLUTION OF THE REPLICA

Despite the Chronomat Evolutions reputation as the flagsship of the Breitling range, a quality replica did not exist until some months ago. The previous quartz-powered or day-date Asian Automatics are best forgotten. The Quartz-powered replica of the Chronomat Evolution is still available from dealers, and considering that it is a true chronograph and costs 1/3rd of the price of the "ultimate", is is decent value from money. When the proper 7750-powered replicas started to surface late 2006 ( if I remember correct), they were eagerly awaited by several members in here.. The first version was good, but suffered from the stock Asian datefont and some weird "black" hands. Those who could wait, opted for the Mark II version which came out a few weeks later, and it was worth the wait.

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The all-white Chronomat Evolution rep in three disguises. The Japanese Quartz-replica, with 1/10th seconds [email protected] The Mark I and the Mark II version of the "Ultimate". The first "Ultimate" version had the stock Asian datefont, darker hands, weaker AR and slightly different dials. Notice that the Mark I version misses the tiny minute marker next to the "10" on the 12 o'clock subdial. According to some, the silvery white of the Mark I is the more correct shade of white. Thanks to Trustytime and Jawo for the pictures.

Personally, I did not like the Chronomat Evolution when I first saw it.. It is a very flashy watch, with several different script fonts on the dial, angled numbers and several edges on the bezel.. All to busy dial for me, who consider the readability of the Moonwatch as the "Ultimate" Chronograph. I also imagined that some of the screws on the bezel would get lost soon, and that all finger marks would show up on that polished finish. Also the bezel would be a real cuff-eater. I actually have more respect for the quartz Breitlings, which are true multifunctional toolwatches with leading edge technology. These are also the only Breitlings I actually have seen on the wrists of professional pilots.. Alas, there are no good replicas of the B-1, Emergency or Aerospace models

But, the design soon grew on me. I read an interesting article on RWI about how the design was influenced by Aircraft design and the history behind the Chronomat model line. I was originally focused on getting the Steelfish, but the ETA-version turned out very expensive. So after all the good reviews on the Evo, I decided to give it a go.

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Some examples of how classic aircraft design have inspired the Breitling Chronomat. Side profile of the watch looks as an aircraft from the front, and the crown is inspired by a propeller spinner. This is the older version without screwdown pushers.

The Evo is available in several different dial colors. Breitling has always carried a wide choice of dials. Most people seems to have chosen the new Graphite dial with black subdials and red "Automatic" script. The subdial colors are a bit off on these versions, according to reviews. Versions with contrasting subdials are also available. Full gold and Two-Tone versions with gold raider-tabs are also released! Most dealer also carry ETA-7750 versions, which cost about the double of the Asian version. For all newbies considering a Breitling replica, I will highly recommend the Community Guide to best Breitling Replicas, put together by By-Tor.

I decided upon the white dial version, as I have few white dialed watches and the white one is considered to be the most accurate at the moment.. And I think a white dial suits the flashy style of the bigger Breitlings.

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Three of the other dial styles available for the replica. Black dial, Graphite dial and Black dial with silver subdials and diamond bezel.. The last one will cost you 2000USD! Pictures from Ruby, Pure Time and Andrew.

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As of April 2007, there is released a new grey dial with proper black subdials. This picture also shows the weak cocentric-rings pattern on the replica dial. The two-tone and rose gold editions are very stylish additons to the range. Personally, I think the gold rider tabs, pushers and crown really suits the style! Pictures from PT.

In the autumn of 2007, several new dial styles got available. When the BCE was launched, the dial with Arabic numbers were for some reason only available in v1 (together with the dark hands). Finally, these stylish dials are available. Another long-awaited update is the two-tone bracelet. Lanikai posted some nice pictures of his TT BCE in THIS thread. One minor flaw on the steel-gold versions is that they have the same "A" model number on the caseback, while Breitling two-tone versions should have a "B" model number. I seriously doubt that the rep makers will make a separate caseback for the two-tone versions though...

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The new (October 2007) two-tone Chronomat Evolution with Arabic dial. This gives the watch a very different style than the stick hour markers. Also note that the pearl looks a bit better on this one. The ring around the pearl is thicker and protrudes more from the bezel. Picture from PC and King. Check out Lanikais review of his magnificent white dial/numerals BCE HERE.

Another new addition to the Evo lineup is some models offered by King. Among them are the "Fecce Tricolore version. For some reason, this has a rather bad peal, but deeper and more defined pattern on the dial. Guess this is another manufacturer. Judging by the pictures, the pattern is closer to the genuine.

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Dial pattern and pearl on this new version. AR appears to be very weak on this version. Picture from King. Wristshot from Hoochman

I chose to buy the BCE from Ruby, as she at the moment was a bit cheaper. As I always am concerned about date-alignment in the 7750, it was nice to see a picture of the watch before she shipped. Communication was good as always. It took some weeks, but finally the watch arrived.

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Breitling Chronomat Evolution replica.

I am getting hard to impress when it comes to replicas, and to be honest I was a bit sceptical to whether this would live up to the hype. It is a very nice watch, no doubt, but due to the sheer complexity of the original it is not up there with the very best. Overall impression is very good. Case and bracelet is very heavy and without rough edges. Even the inside of the lugs are very well finished and polished. The bracelet fits very snug.

The crown feels solid and the screwdown pushpieces work very well. The screwdown crown only has about half a turn to screw down, but it is sufficient.

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Beautiful finish...

Of course all faults look much worse when blown up. But anyway, here it is:

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Replica vs gen. Replica pearl has a scratch in the lume under the glass, and finish is a bit rough. The Script on the outermost side of the dial is partly covered by the case. Also note the litte bubble of glue above the "M" in Tachymetre and at the 59 seconds mark on the dial. Unfortunately, I did not see this in the pre-sale picture from the dealer.

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Replica and genuine Logo and datefont. The logo and script is very close, and nothing that stands out as "fake". As has been discussed before, the date font is not correct. It should be a bit bigger and bolder, and have serifs on the "1". Nevertheless I actually thinks it looks good. It fills the date window nicely and looks special... But, it the Breitling Datefont project ever comes through, it will be a sure upgrade. The only thing that buggers me are the etched numbers on the bezel.. As you can see from the picture they are not as sharp as on the genuine.. :( It seems like the Steelfish is better in this aspect. The bezel clicks very nice and firmly, a great improvement from the previous Chrono Avenger reps! The B on the chrono seconds hand is slightly different from the gen.

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Well made dial with crisp scrift, but the circular pattern is deeper and more defined on the genuine. A small white spot on the "0" in "20". The unoin shaped crown is very well finished and has a solid feel to it. Due to the shape it is not as easy to handle as more conventional crows. But it sure looks good, and is an important part of the design of the watch!

Bracelet

The bracelet is wonderful, and feels nice and heavy. The engravings on it are the best I have ever seen!

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The only negative things I noted are that when I thightened the screws, two of the links became stiff. I had to loosen them up a bit to get some free play in the link. Also the back of the fliplock-clasp has a rough finish. Edges on the bracelet are very smooth and comfortable.

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The fliplock-clasp closes with a little dent, which makes a nice firm quality "snap". The back of the clasp is roughly finished, the logo shines through.

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The BCE on the newest leather strap and deployant clasp. The strap is close to the gen, except for thicker sides. Very well made, and a "must" for all Evo owners! It gives the watch a whole new character.

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Caseback engravings are just stunning!!

A13356 is the model number for the SS Chronomat Evolution. The letter "A" designates the case and bezel material, all stainless steel. "13" tells that the watch uses Breitling calibre 13. "3" tells that the watch is COSC-certified, and the two last numbers are model specific. Unfortunately, it sems like the full gold and gold/steel replica-models uses the SS-model number on the caseback as well..

A list which explaines the different letters used for Breitling model numbering can be found Here

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Nice perlage design inside the caseback, and the stock Asian 7750 which hides underneath it.. A version with ETA 7750 is also available, at about double the price of the Asian. A good buy if you love the watch. The right picture shows the decorated China 7750, which can be found in older Breitling reps (Navitimres, Chrono Avenger, Super Avenger). It looks nice on pictures and from a distance, but is in fact only a metal sticker on top of the rotor. On hot days, it can lift away from the rotor. The metal sticker is obmitted in the newest reps. Pics from Puretime and Ruby.

As of October 2007, decorated movements are again available. Either in gold or silver finish.

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New movement finish. Quite stylish!

The Asian 7750 works well, even though I can hear that the rotor touches the inside of the caseback.. Not good, but I will not open it up yet. Also, it has the well-known light feel of an Asian movement when you set time and date. The rest of the watch are so good that it would make good sense to go for the ETA-version if you consider this watch a keeper. The AR-coating of the crystal seems very fine, but to be honest I do not care much about AR.

All in all it is a very nice watch, close to the genuine. But to be honest, I belive that most watch-affinados even without expert Breitling knowledge would question its authenticity, due to the slightly poor finish of the pearl and the tachymetre ring. At least I would find it a bit odd if someone handed this watch to me and presented it as genuine.. All normal people will just be blown off by the weight, beautiful engravings and sheer prescence of this watch..

So, in my book, the Tag Heuer Link series is still the most accurate replicas around. These are much simpler watches, without a pearl, rotating bezel and somewhat simpler dial. They are also much more belivable for most people.

The Evo will most likely never be a daily wearer for me, but nevertheless I am pleased to have it in my collection. :)

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Replica and genuine. Comparison pictures.

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The Evolution also looks good on a rubber strap. Less flashy!

WRISTSHOTS!

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In my opinion, the big Breitlings looks gorgeous on leather straps, but a bit too bulky to go with a siut.. The new version of the straps and buckles, available May 2007 are very very good.

These days, when most bling-bling watches have a polished bracelet, a strap is the way to go on a classy watch. :) The details on the head are also more pronounced when they dont visually have to "compete" with a shining bracelet.. Also, the white face together with the steel might look a bit pale. The brown colors of the strap gives a bit more "life" and adds some warm tones to the cold steel. Just my thoughts

Thanks for looking!

And now, back to work!! :p

Updated October 27th 2007

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I hate these - it takes me away from my real job too long.

Seriously, these are fantastic.

Usil

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Thanks for the feedback, guys! :)

I have freshed up the review a bit and added some more information.

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221395-14361.jpg221395-14362.jpg221395-14363.jpg

Three of the other dial styles available for the replica. Black dial, Graphite dial and Black dial with silver subdials and diamond bezel.. The last one will cost you 2000USD! Pictures from Ruby, Pure Time and Andrew.

At first glance I thought the first one (left) was a genuine. Its only now that I re-read that bit I realised that was a replica also!

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Thanks, great read and amazing review. Breitling Guide updated. :)

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Awesome review!!!! Thanks!

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HISTORY AND BACKGROUND

The Chronomat Evolution is considered the Flagship model in the Breitling range. The first Chronomat model was launched in 1942, and was then the first chronograph to incorporate a slide rule, 12 years before the Navitimer. Rather than beeing a pilot's watch, the Chronomat's emphasis was rather

on engineering and mathematics. Prime target beeing people working in science and industry. The movement is the Venus 175, 17-jewels with a centre chronograph hand recording seconds, a minute chronograph register at 3 o'clock recording up to 45 minutes, and a running seconds hand on the sub-dial at 9 o'clock. The minute register has special markers for 3, 6 and 9 minutes, as long-distance phone calls were charged in 3-minute increments in most countries. Long distance and especially international 'toll' calls were very expensive at this time.

In 1969, the first automatic Chronomats were launched. They used the famous "Chrono-Matic" Calibre 11/12 microrotor-movement where Breitling and Heuer developed the base caliber and added the Dubois-D

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Brilliant review, really breaks down the pros and cons of the watch. I think that it is also really nice that you make the comparison to the Link, makes it really easy to get a handle on where you think the BCE falls in terms of accuracy.

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Excellent review. One of the best I have seen,

I have been trying to decide between the Chronomat Evolution and the Steelfish. White dial, as I dont have a single white dial watch in my collection.

They both look great and I may end up with both one day.

Reality is, I can only buy one. Too many mouths to feed on my one income.

Me = poor. :(

Thanks again for taking the time to do this. :clap3:

Edited by Sir-Lancelot

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Great review, thanks for your effort. I noticed you said that you had to back the screws off on the bracelet, I did that with mine too because of it making them stiff, but I lost a screw so I've tightned mine back up now, tbh you don't notice it when your wearing the watch, it finds the shape it needs to be around your wrist and sticks there, if that makes any sense.

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A very enjoyable read, brilliant review :)

The photo of the pearl with the scratches underneath was very similar to how my Steelfish looked. I got some very, very fine wet and dry paper and taped up round the pearl area. Then proceeded to gently rough up the acrylic covering the pearl. It takes time, but after a while the acrylic becomes opaque and so it is very hard to see the scratches underneath, but the pearl itself still looks great!

It may be harder to do with the Evo pearl, as it is smaller, but it should still be possible. Just make sure you use the finest grade paper and use a circular motion to create an even finish.

Cheers :D

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