After being a “mechanical watch only” type person for several years, I finally got tired of resetting my watches and determined that I would learn a little bit more about quartz. I came across a great article in the High Quality Quartz forum about thermo-compensated quartz movements and suddenly found an appreciation for the science behind the quartz movement. After looking around a bit I determined that Breitling quartz was what I was after, and I settled on the Aerospace because I prefer the understated approach to the bling of the B1. I purchased a 2001-2004 Aerospace (E75362) off of the FS forum and then found a great deal on the next model (Aerospace Avantage) and picked that up as well. I thought I would prefer that model to the older one. To my surprise, I much prefer the Aerospace E75362 despite its lack of a backlight, and my desire to celebrate this model, which I believe to be the “sweet spot” in the Aerospace line, has led me to offer this review.
Let me lay the parameters for what I currently prioritize in a watch so you can understand the lens through which I measure a watch. I look for accuracy (hence the quartz), reliability, aesthetics, attention to detail and convenient functionality. In one word, I look for quality, and the Breitling Aerospace certainly has that. Here is a picture to lead off the review:
Like I stated above, I ended up preferring the older E75362 to the Avantage, but not because of accuracy. They both house Breitling SuperQuartz movements, and so are about as accurate of a watch as you can buy. Basically, you will be replacing the battery before you will need to reset your watch (in 4 years you will be at most 1 minute off). More pics:
The entire Aerospace line is proven when it comes to reliability. Being quartz, it is significantly tougher than a mechanical watch, as it fares better against all the elements (temperature, shock, time). Both these models are water resistant to 100m, which will suffice for all but professional divers. I don’t hesitate to shower or swim with this watch and it states in the Breitling manual that it is suited for these activities. The Aerospace has a brilliant simplicity to its design that enables it to control all of its functions with the crown. This means there are no additional buttons which would require additional case penetrations, and the fewer buttons and holes in a case the better from a reliability stand point. Both watches excel in this category. One last note – with the Avantage you can easily unscrew the case back and replace the battery yourself, which is a nice advantage over a mechanical watch that requires periodic servicing. One word of caution – if you find yourself in the water a lot you will want Breitling to replace the seals on your Aerospace because they do degrade over time.
These watches have similar aesthetics. The Avantage leans a more towards the jewelry aspect of watches with the polished hands and numerals on the dial, while the E75362 leans more towards the tool aspect. I prefer the latter, but it’s an entirely subjective assessment. I will say that the dial on the E75362 seems higher quality, with slightly more fine text and graphics, perfectly applied and mounded lume and a beautiful velvety finish to the black face that shifts from black to charcoal gray depending on the light and seems to absorb reflections making it extremely legible in all lighting conditions. The Avantage is inferior in this respect as the dial appears to be a somewhat shiny plastic that reflects light more than I care for. Add in the polished hands and numerals, and the Avantage just isn’t as legible. At night the Avantage has the advantage when it comes to the digital display (it is backlit and the E75362 is not) but not when it comes to lume, with the E75362’s dial far more readable due to its heavy application of lume. Because I only need to check the time at night, I’ll take the better lume over the backlight function. One more note, the Avantage is bigger at 42mm (over the E75362 at 40mm) and so depending on your watch size preference, there is a noticeable difference. Both watches look great on the wrist. A note on the lume of the E75362 – I’ve owned the best when it comes to lume with the Stowa Prodiver, the Omega 2254 and the Seiko Marinemaster. This E75362 is actually better than all of these. It is just as bright and more immediately readable due to its Arabic numerals. I really did not expect this!
Attention to detail:
I actually think Breitling has moved backwards a bit with the Avantage when it comes to attention to detail. This is especially true when it comes to their bezels, which in the case of the Aerospace is sort of a defining characteristic. Look at these comparative pictures of the bezel:
As you can see the E75362 has actual rider tabs that are separately constructed and attached. Additionally, the screws are rounded in order to serve the double function of increasing ones grip on the bezel as well as just holding the bezel to the case. The Avantage’s screws are flatter and sunken into the bezel, and it has faux rider tabs that are not cut to the tolerances that I would have expected. All the corners and lines on the E75362 just seem sharper and better executed to me. Also, the titanium finish on the E75362 appears to be more of a satin finish, while the Avantage seems almost bead blasted and a bit duller. Don’t get me wrong, they are both exemplary watches, just the E75362 seems better finished. And again, the bezel is definitely better and I can only assume Breitling moved towards the Avantage style bezel to save on production costs.
The way the Aerospace functions is intuitive and brilliant. I was wary when I first read about its all purpose crown, but after using it for a few minutes I was impressed with how easy it is. It’s a design feat and superior (in my opinion) to all the multi-buttoned quartzes out there (I’ve owned quite a few). It is certainly easier to master as you don’t have to memorize what buttons to push when in order use its chronograph, dual time, countdown timer, alarm and various date and time displays. Also, the digital display has a nice sharp contrast (on both watches, though it is slightly sharper on the E75362). The bezel is handy as well. I prefer the E75362’s bidirectional bezel over the unidirectional bezel of the Avantage. I understand the original purpose of the unidirectional bezel (to keep divers from thinking less time has elapsed – if it moves it will only move the direction of more time elapsing), but I’m not a professional diver and I like being able to move the bezel either direction. Just a preference. In short the Aerospace really is a simple yet multi-functional watch. I love this about it.
Conclusion: I really do think the E75362 is the sweet spot of the Aerospace line. Produced from 2001 – 2004, I think Breitling perfected the Aerospace with this model and has lost a little bit with the more recent models. However, the Avantage does have some advantages that may fit your needs better, and I by no means would steer you away from that model. Really both are excellent watches and you can’t go wrong. Kudos to Breitling on a fine line of watches. I'll end with more pictures, always far better than text: