With the Breitling Jet Team starting its first United States tour this month in Lakeland, Florida, followed by eighteen shows coast to coast, wearing one of watches dedicated to the team seems appropriate.
When Breitling announced the imminent arrival in the U.S. of the new Jet Team Chronomat 44s, a limited edition of 500 blackened steel chronographs, I jumped at the opportunity to wear the timepiece for a few weeks. When the 44mm watch arrived, it needed to be sized for my small wrist.
My visit to the New York Breitling boutique was flawless as the store’s watchmaker Kevin Tuck quickly adjusted the rubber strap to ensure that its fit was snug, but with enough give to remain comfortable.
This adjustment, made with careful snips to the rubber Diver Pro strap, drew my attention to the thick yet pliable rubber strap, which Breitling is sure to secure with a solid steel pushbutton safety clasp.
This combination strap/clasp convinced me that once clicked into place the watch was never going to leave my wrist unless I wanted it to. Not surprisingly, I pressed the two clasp buttons quite frequently as friends and colleagues demanded to see the piece up close.
When removed, the 128-gram watch (not including strap and clasp) feels heavy, conveying a sense of security. The solid caseback enhances that sense, as does the use of the screw-in crown and pushers. On that polished steel back is an engraved duplicate of the unique Breitling Jet Team logo that also graces the dial.
This is the same logo you’ll see on the sides of the team’s seven L-39C Albatross Czech-made twin-seat jets. A jet team show spectator would see this logo only with great difficulty, considering the jets can dive at speeds approaching 600 mph, so this watch brings the logo up close, twice.
Indeed, that logo is what makes this a unique edition of the 44mm Chronomat. Its yellow “Breitling” on the dial version of the logo (which means the brand is seen there twice) complements the yellow bezel numerals and all four yellow chronograph hands.
These in turn match the Breitling-yellow accent colors used on the L-39C jets. The pushers need to be unscrewed in order to use the chronograph. The chronograph-activating top pusher required a bit more force than I’ve felt elsewhere, though the chronograph hand returned with a lighter touch.
The unidirectional rotating bezel to my estimation would benefit from a knurled edging to offer a surer grip. But those yellow accents aren’t the only interesting dial feature.
In addition to the inner tachometer flange, which lends the appropriate technical air to the dial, a centrally located square pattern can be seen (in the right light) slightly altering the pattern on the inner half of all three subdials. Inside this square a ridged pattern appears, which differs slightly from the pearly black remainder of the dial.
The effect, visible on all Chronomat black dials, adds another level of sophistication to what Breitling could have left as simply a serviceable black dial. Luckily, Breitling took the high road. Of course, chronograph fans are quite aware of the elevated path Breitling paved when it designed the in-house B01 column-wheel chronograph several years ago.
Used here and widely placed into its Chronomat and many other collections, the movement offers stellar COSC-certified performance, a vertical clutch system, instant jumping date and a very long seventy-hour power reserve.
The decorated movement, however, will remain unseen inside this solid-cased Jet Team Chronomat 44s. This is a trade-off that I suspect most fans will have no problem dealing with as they jockey to snap up the 500 models of this limited edition.
The watch was a pleasure to wear – and to take off for admirers. I can only hope to be donning one when, and if, I see the Breitling Jet team during its premiere U.S. tour. (See breitling-jet-team.com for a list of upcoming shows.) The Breitling Jet tours the U.S. this year for the first time.
By Michael Thompson