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Breitling Chrono Cockpit - a long term review

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Published on 08-28-2010 12:45 PM

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Breitling Chrono Cockpit reference A13358

Watch Photograph White Light Blue

Bought in March of 2008, the Chrono Cockpit is from the Windrider series. It is still a current model with several different options. The stainless steel case is 39 mm wide by 14.8 mm thick and has a 100 meter water resistance rating. The sapphire crystal is slightly domed with AR coating on both sides, and the unidirectional (CCW) ratcheting bezel still turns freely with 2 pronounced clicks for every minute. The Pilot's bracelet snaps shut solidly and has a single deployant clasp with a safety lock. At the time of purchase the list price as shown was $5040 including the mother of pearl dial (a $400 option) and the Pilot's bracelet ($1100). List price has gone up a meager $130 to $5170 in two years.

The watch is powered by Breitling's caliber 13 based on the Valjoux 7750, a 28,800 bph / 25 jewel workhorse of the industry. It's COSC certified as are all of Breitling's offerings for the last decade. The power reserve is conservatively rated at 42 hours. Of course the dial layout is the standard pattern for a 7750: date at 3:00, 12 hour register at 6:00, running seconds subdial at 9:00, and 30 minute register at 12:00.

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Admittedly, it isn't anything special from a horological viewpoint. Pedestrian is a fair description of the 7750 and it's detractors call it much worse. If you look at some other respected but less expensive brands you can find the same basic movement inside products as low as $500. So what makes this watch worth a list price many times that?

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It's because Breitling may do the best case & bracelet work of all the stainless steel sport watches. I'd put them up against any brand. The Pilot's bracelet looks bulky but is very comfortable. The only other company that makes an equivalent bracelet in my opinion is IWC. Some are close in one aspect, like the finish of the bracelet on VC's Overseas or the comfort of Rolex's Jubilee, but not many put it all together like Breitling. Also, their dials are awesome. No matter what color or pattern, they never disappoint. As you can see from the photographs the mother of pearl isn't overbearing even in bright sunlight like the picture at the top. Sometimes the dial simply looks ivory as in the photos above and below this paragraph.

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Out of the box the watch gained 5 or 6 seconds a day. That's still within COSC specs but pushing the limits. It did settle down after a few weeks to a fairly stable rate which it maintains presently. In a recent two week experiment it picked up 53 seconds making it +3.8 seconds per day. The smallest gain in one 24 hour period was just over 2 seconds. The largest gain during that same test was near 5 seconds in 24 hours. The usual gain was between 3 and 4 seconds, making it a pretty consistent timekeeper. Upon giving this information to a watchmaker who deals with Breitling I was told that it's possible to tweak it to a much lower average gain. His experience told him that adjusting the regulator 2 notches towards slow would put the rate nearer to exact. The results are remarkable for such a simple turn of a screw. After 5 days, the watch has lost 7 seconds for an average of -1.4 seconds a day. It's almost 2 seconds a day slow on the winder and about a half second slow per day when worn and left off the winder at night. Not too shabby.

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The lume isn't pronounced due to the size of the surface area to which it is applied, but is still more than sufficient.

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I have only two minor complaints with this watch. The first is that I find it a little difficult to operate the crown. As you can see by the pictures below, the crown guards are fairly high up the sides of the crown. Good for protection, not so good when you try to screw or unscrew it when combined with it's domed shape and smoothness. I had such a hard time at first that I ended up sending it in for warranty thinking there was a problem with the threads. Turns out it was fine; I just had to get used to it.

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The other complaint I have is even more trivial - it's a very thick watch. The bracelet is thick too and makes the watch well balanced when it's on. However, I usually favor a strap and that seems to make the watch top heavy since the head alone weighs 91.3 grams. As much as I like the look of the Hadley Roma, I might try a thicker style strap and see how that works. Of course, I'm more used to thin dress watches in my daily rotation. I could stack two dress watches on top each other and together they'd be thinner than the Chrono Cockpit. But in the end I would absolutely buy this watch again because there's just something very visceral about Breitliing. I guess that's the best endorsement you can give a product, and this is one of the rare watches that has lasted longer than 2 years in my collection.

If you pay a visit to Breitling's website, make sure you use the CONFIGURATOR feature to see what's available for case, dial, and strap/bracelet options.

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**Photos & Text Copyright 2010 Watch Talk Forums Inc.. No part of this report can be reproduced outside of Watch Talk Forums without the expressed permission of Dennis Kanagie.

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