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Vintage charm has now settled into a more permanent feature on the aesthetic side of design. Breitling has some of the best vintage looks around, and here is one charmer you’ll find hard to resist.
SOME V INTAGE PIECES are just old and look it, and then there are those that just ooze charm and instantly draw you in to their old-world glamour. Breitling was established in 1884 at the beginning of the second watch renaissance of the Swiss watchmaking industry by Leon Breitling, in the town of Grenchen in the Canton of Solothurn, where many different watches were designed, engineered and manufactured. In this new age, the cottage industries and individual parts makers were soon a thing of the past. It was an exciting time, things were moving a lot faster and challenges were aplenty, but the Swiss watch industry established itself as a force to be reckoned with. Breitling was in the thick of it with sports watches as their forté, which soon became popular with famous aviators of the day.
The talent obviously ran in the family and the founder’s son Gaston Breitling pushed the boundaries further. He found a way to separate the chronograph function buttons from the crown to avoid confusion when using the watch and the chronograph. He devised a separate pusher, which controlled the three chronograph operations and placed the pusher at two o’clock on the pocket watch. That was in 1915, and later, he successfully moved the stop/start functions to the second button and left reset with the crown. Once again in 1934, he created the second pusher exclusively for zero resetting. This was revolutionary; the chronograph functions are completely independent from the crown and clearly making everything instinctive, completely modernising the chronograph that we are familiar with today. All these moves took time because a chronograph movement is so complex that it is classified as a grand complication.
Once again keeping up the spirit of innovation, Breitling has introduced the Transocean Chronograph 1915 this year. It is easily one of the best-looking watches that we have seen in a long while. The design is inspired by a bygone era and so are the mechanical functions. The face of the timepiece immediately transports you back to the early days of Art Deco with the font style of the Arabic numerals coated in vintage beige luminescent. Meanwhile, the dial is off-white with two grey sub-dials for continuous seconds and a chrono minute counter, all designed to give a hint of the past. The hands are coated with luminescent in vintage beige as well.
The technology that drives this chronograph is something new, of course; in fact, it is a brand new in-house manufacture Breitling Calibre B14. Showing their acumen for innovation, the chronograph has a patented two-tiered double column-wheel system, which activates the controls that are arranged on two levels. The watch is powered by a handwound mechanical movement with a chronometer-certified by COSC, which emits a frequency of 28,800vph, and when completely wound, has a power reserve of 70 hours.
The dial and the movement sit in the already classic Transocean brushed polished stainless steel case, with an original tapered lozenge-shaped pusher from the 1915 edition, again giving it that vintage feel. To complete the entire look, the watch comes with a strap choice of classic steel mesh, which makes a strong statement, or brown croc to give it a sportier look. If the watch does not transport you back in time, at least the design might put you in the mood, especially if you are a wartime aviation buff who has a taste for all things vintage. With the innovative construction and engineering of the new two-tiered chronograph, the Transocean Chronograph 1915 has to be one of the best chronographs this year, if not the most beautiful.
Top: Transocean Chronograph 1915.