Breitling Transocean Chronograph 1915 Watch Review
Sunday - 27 September 2015
by Angus Davies, www.escapementmagazine.com
Breitling are marketed as ‘Instruments for Professionals’™ and have always exhibited a logical approach to watch design with layouts that have proved especially popular with pilots. The very name of this model, the ‘Transocean’, evokes images of glamorous long-haul flights to exciting destinations.
The Swiss company, Breitling, is also a name synonymous with chronographs. In 1884, Léon Breitling established his watch company making chronographs and timers. At that time, pocket chronographs were typically placed in the waistcoat pocket, however, in the early 20th century the company began exploring the notion of wearing a chronograph upon the wrist.
Pocket chronographs ordinarily combined the pushpiece within the winding crown. Gaston Breitling, the son of the company’s founder, Léon, looked at pocket chronographs and suggested that the pushpiece was separated from the winding crown enhancing ergonomics. Moreover, Gaston suggested that the pushpiece was positioned at 2 o’clock.
This position of the pushpiece was inspired. The chronograph, once removed from the wrist, would be placed in the palm and used like a pocket chronograph. By locating the pushpiece at 2 o’clock, it would readily interface with the thumb, the fastest acting digit and, by default, the most suitable finger for split second timing.
Whilst Breitling would later separate the start/stop and reset functions by equipping its chronograph models with two pushpieces, the simplicity of line provided by Gaston’s inspired idea of 1915 remains clear to see.
The new Breitling Transocean Chronograph 1915 celebrates 100 years since Gaston showed his contemporaries that he was a worthy employee of the company his father founded.
The dial of this limited-edition watch is presented in ‘mercury silver’, with the central area appearing slightly darker in shade. The bi-compax layout features snailed subdials, with a 30-minute register located at 3 o’clock and a small seconds display positioned opposite. This arrangement confers a delightful balance to proceedings and an abundance of eye-appeal.
A date display resides at 6 o’clock and is framed with a black border, guiding the eye to the prevailing date.
Legibility is a prerequisite for any chronograph and this watch fulfils this remit admirably. The bold Arabic numerals adorning the dial, together with baton-like hour and minute hands, are lined with luminescent coating ensuring matchless readability. However, by delivering a highly practical ownership proposition, Breitling has not eschewed elegance with the said luminescent coating evincing a delightfully aged, patinated character.
‘Beauty is more than skin deep’ seems an apt idiom to describe the movement housed in the Breitling Transocean Chronograph 1915. The Manufacture Breitling Caliber B14 is a horological gem. This hand-wound movement features a ‘two-tiered double column-wheel system’, delivering a sumptuous and positive action to its pushpieces. This is a chronometer with the accuracy of the movement independently certified by COSC. The power reserve of the movement is particularly impressive, exceeding 70 hours. Thankfully, unlike some companies who hide such magnificent mechanical prowess behind a solid caseback, Breitling has thoughtfully equipped this model with an exhibition caseback, revealing the splendour of the movement within.
There are only 1915 examples of this limited edition available, referencing the year Gaston Breitling wrote a new chapter in the evolution of the chronograph. The only question many readers may struggle to answer is whether to choose the model with a retro-look Milanese bracelet or succumb to the temperate tones of the Brown crocodile leather option.