We're all fairly familiar with Breitling's vintage chronograph offerings. If asked, we can rattle off a list of them: Navitimer, Chronomat, Top Time,Superocean 2005. But that only scratches the surface of all the chronographs Breitling has to offer. There are numerous other chronographs Breitling has manufactured over their 132-year history, and while many not be as recognizable or iconic as those other chronos, their frank designs and sturdy construction merit consideration.
Breitling first started manufacturing wrist chronographs as early as the 1930s. With functional, legible dials, simple case designs, and blued steel hands, they're an exercise in understated elegance. One could almost say they're dress watches. Sure, they're not as sporty (and not nearly as large) as the later Navitimer, but just one look will reveal that Breitling wasn't always making massive function-first wrist computers.
Outwardly, the steel barrel case is pleasing to eye with its thin bezel and its gently tapered lugs and pleasing to the wrist at a svelte but sturdy 35mm. As contemporary Breitling continues to grow in size - despite a renaissance of smaller, slimmer case sizes - enthusiasts are looking to the brand's past to find quality-built chronos that belie the idea that bigger is always better.
This particular model (Reference 178) features an up/down chronograph configuration, with a 45-minute register at 12:00 and a subsidiary seconds function at 6:00. Powered by a Venus 170, the chronograph functions are operated by a set of oversized rectangular pushers located on either side of its unsigned crown. With a crisp, unpolished case and a pleasing original dial with glossy printed markers and subtle triple tone blue/red/black scales, this untouched beauty positively gleams on the wrist, its silvery hue accented by the brightly polished hour and minute hands and blued steel chronograph and subsidiary seconds hands.
As more and more attention is brought to steel chronographs from the post-war years, there is little question that pieces such as this one will be snatched up and stowed away as continue to rise. This is an exceptional watch that is not only a tremendous Breitling, but a brilliant example that epitomizes what was perhaps the greatest era for sporting chronographs.
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