The Chronomat was introduced in 1941 and it was based on a 1940 patent document submitted by Breitling – 217012 which granted protection for an instrument wristwatch that had a circular slide rule. This system made performing various measurements quick and easy, as well as doing mathematical operations such as converting distance from one unit to another or converting speed from one unit to another. This watch won the hearts of many people and even watch technicians were at awe with its special features. The Chronomat was eventually made with different dials and cases and became the ancestors of the legendary Breitling Navitimer.
Breitling Chronomat Moonphase
The innovation of the Chronomat didn’t end with innovations for measurements. In 1942 the company fitted it with a moon-phase display which can be found at 12 o’clock. During that time, Venus was the company’s most important supplier of movements and the 1942 Chronomat Moonphase had the Caliber 184 from Venus and it was hand wound. It had a date indicator and a counter for 12 elapsed hours. That watch was available in gold or steel.
New Chronomat 1984
In the early 1980s, Breitling started making quartz watches but in 1979 when it was acquired by the Schneider family it wanted to prove that it was still very much capable of making mechanical chronographs. They celebrated its 100th birthday by releasing a New Chronomat and the Italian Air Force’s pilots which specialized in aerobatic demonstrations adopted it as their official wristwatch. Fans of chronographs the world over followed and the 1984 Chronomat became the company’s bestseller. The new timepiece had raised markers on the bezel which made it easy to grip and it’s protected against shocks and blows by the sapphire crystal. The case was double insulated on the crown and was resistant to 100m. The automatic Caliber Valjoux 7750 which powered the watch were modified to increase its capability to endure stress.
During the second half of the ‘60s, the sales of chronographs took a dip and this led to Breitling and competitor Heuer to create a partnership in order to make the very first automatic chronograph watch, hoping it would put an end to the dismal sales. Their partnership started in 1965 when they inked a contract together with Dubois Depraz and Buren Watch to make a watch which they coined Project 99. Buren was the movement supplier because it had extensive experience in making micro rotors. The date ring was set directly underneath the dial and the crown was installed on the left side due to its modular architecture. Heuer and Breitling took care of the design, cases, dials and other components. The very first Caliber 11 prototype ran at 19800 vph and it was available in the spring of 1968. The Chrono-matic was officially launched on March 3, 1969 in New York and Geneva at the same time and it was the very first automatic chronograph that had a built in micro rotor.