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WATCH REVIEW - The Breitling HEADWIND



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Scott D

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Published on 11-25-2009 02:20 PM

Number of Views: 8967

Review of the BREITLING HEADWIND

November 25, 2009
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BRAND: BREITLING
MODEL: HEADWIND
YEARS OF PRODUCTION: 2001 - 2005
MODEL VARIATIONS: Stainless steel, steel w/ 18K gold accents, 18k yellow rose gold (3N)
VERSION REVIEWED: 18k gold case on alligator strap

INTRODUCTION:
Features & functions: water resistant, date and day of week display
Dial displays: Day of week and date aperture display

The Headwind is Breitling’s “Day-Date” watch. Introduced in 2001 & discontinued in 2005, it enjoyed a relatively short production run. Many Breitling enthusiasts consider the Headwind to be one of the nicest looking & wearing of the 3-hand models offered by Breitling.

CASE:
Shape: Round
Size: 43.7mm
Thickness: 15.3mm
Water resistance: 500m / 1,650ft
Crystal: Sapphire, with anti-reflective coating on both sides

Breitling is not known for making small cases. Outside of the ladies line, very few models have a case size of less than 41mm’s. Historically this would be considered large cases, but with the trends the past several years it can be argued a 41mm watch is now ‘typical’ sized watch. The Headwind has one of the more common case sizes by Breitling at 43mm’s.

The 18K gold case boasts a highly polished finish, with only the bezel being brushed in a satin finish. The 18K gold version consists of yellow rose gold, which splits the formula between a pure yellow and pure rose gold, giving the watch a slightly warmer look than a pure yellow gold formula without the red look of pure rose gold. The steel versions have a choice of either brushed or polished finishes. A large, 2-stepped crown guard protects the domes crown while providing a visually pleasant appearance.

The strap opening is squared, allowing either the Pilot bracelet or leather strap to be attached without showing any space gaps. This gives the watch a more finished look, especially when using a strap, by not allowing a gap in the strap & case to be seen. It would be nice to see more manufactures utilize this approach & design. The sapphire crystal is slightly domed, yet none of the crystal protrudes beyond the bezel rider-tabs. The crystal is coated with anti-reflective (AR) coating on both sides. The case is water resistant to 500m, even the gold case. This is more than adequate for virtually any wearer to provide protection from any wet environment.

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The case is finely finished & shaped to fit comfortably on the wrist with zero sharp edges. The bezel is easily handled & rotated and the crown is easy to unscrew, adjust & re-screw into the case. A strong water resistance, even for the 18K gold case, is a plus as the owner will not need to worry about water or moisture issues in virtually any environment. Though very few reports of issues with the outside AR coating have been posted or reported, many people do not like double-sided AR coating in principle, and this feature will be a negative to them.

DIAL:

The dial on this watch is superb. Showing a date & day of week via aperture windows, it’s functional and pleasant looking. The dial itself is finished by a sophisticated process known as “par epargne” and is almost exclusive to Breitling. The “par epargne” method is said to be extremely luxurious. The dial is a solid piece of silver, with the writing in exposed enamel as opposed to applied lacquer paint. This is attributed to the areas of the dial to receive text being lightly cut into the dial and filled with enamel, which is then polished smooth to lie flush with the dial surface. The result is a stunning contrast & smoothness of text.

Applied markers are used for all hours, except 12 & 3, which contain the day of week & date respectively. Luminous dots on the outside edge of the hour markers provide nighttime illumination, albeit very weak. The Breitling wings logo is also an applied marker, rather than a painted logo.

Legibility of the dial is extremely clear and easy to see. The applied markers are stepped, with the outside edges being brushed and the higher, center section being polished. Nightime illumination is by lume-dots above each of the applied markers.

Some close-ups of the dial & the par eparnge processed dial.

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The Headwind dial is clear, and the day of week in addition to the date is a nice feature to have & makes the watch functional, as well as visually pleasing. However, the lack of better nighttime illumination, especially on a sport watch, is unacceptable.

STRAP / BRACELET:

Width at lugs: 22mm

Width at clasp: 20mm

Available OEM materials: Steel, steel & gold or 18K gold bracelets and leather or crocodile straps.

The strap is typical Breitling, and the same one used on many other models. Heavily padded, as required by a watch of this size. The white contrasting stitching provides a sport look designed to finish out the sporty appearance of the watch. A tang buckle is used as standard, though deployant straps & buckles are available.

The bracelet is the 5-link Pilot bracelet, used and proven repeatedly on a variety of other Breitling models. The links are retained via locking links, so removal (or loss) of 2 screws would be required for the watch links to separate. A double fold-over clasp provides locking security at the clasp. There are no sharp edges touching the wrist, and the contour of the bracelet links makes comfort superb.

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The bracelets are comfortable, secure & superbly finished. The straps are well built and usually have a usable lifespan much longer than other manufactures straps. Extra links for bracelets or long versions of the straps are easily obtained from any authorized dealer. The straps are priced on-par with other comparable brands, though Breitling’s straps have a history of exceeding – sometimes significantly – the usable life of other leather or exotic skin straps.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS:

The Breitling Calibre 45 is based on the self-winding ETA 2834-2 running at 28,800 BpH with a power reserve of 42 hours. Breitling heavily modifies the 25 jewel ebauche to create the Calibre 45. As is all Breitling calibres, the calibre 45 is chronometer certified by COSC.



FINAL IMPRESSIONS:


The Breitling Headwind will not be mistaken for a dress watch. As its first & foremost a sports watch, it obviously wears well with virtually any casual apparel. However, the refined & pleasing look of the Headwind allows it to be dressed up with a variety of dress apparel, making it more versatile than most sport watches. Its larger size wears well, and should be comfortable on most wrists.

There are a few shortcomings, though in the overall scheme they are very minor. The lume could - and should - be better than it is. This is probably the largest issue. Breitling addresses this on newer models in the Windrider line, making the lower outside edges of the applied markers full of lume, which drastically increased the night-time visibility. While the outside anti-reflective coating resists scratches very well, it can be scratched easier than the sapphire crystal below it, and this is an issue for some people. The good news is any outside AR coating can easily be removed if the owner wishes to, leaving only the underside of the crystal AR coating.

The Breitling Headwind is a sport watch that does not share its looks with many other watches. Unique appearance with full day and date display, stylish design, reliable movement, comfortable fit and of course Breitling's stellar customer service make it an excellent choice for a wide variety of everyday wear.

ALL TEXT & PICTURES ARE COPYRIGHTED & PROTECTED. No part of this report can be reproduced without prior expressed, written permission of myself.

NOTE:

While every attempt is to make the overall impressions & ratings as unbiased as possible; it’s impossible to completely remove some personal biases in a review. Many items, such as case size, and bracelet options, can make a watch that’s perfect to one person seem too large or small to another person, altering the overall impression. As always, if you’re considering the above model for purchase you are encouraged to try the watch on yourself to make a final determination. This review is not designed to be a single source of decision for any purchase.

 
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