This acquisition arrived recently. The Breitling A74380 Colt II "SuperQuartz" HAQ / HEQ. I love it!
Some initial impressions:
· The watch fits me really well. I’m not normally a fan of big, bulky watches whatsoever. Compact and concise is more my cup of tea. So, look at the heavily downward curved lugs that really make the watch wrap around your wrist. As a result, while this 41.1 x 13.3 mm watch would certainly not be called compact, it actually wears very nicely. It’s almost ideal for a diver, for me. By the way, the dial measures 31mm across: smaller than a Nomos Orion!! (Many of the pics that follow are from the seller’s ad, by the way):
· The case and bracelet are all-brushed, except for the high-polished sides of the case, the crown, and the inner ring & the side of the otherwise brushed bezel. Very nice contrast to the finishes. Balanced, and not blingy – prominent on the wrist, but controlled. The fit and finish is excellent. The brushing is very finely grained and precisely applied. Better than the Aerospace – which is probably due to the difference of working in steel (the Colt) versus working in titanium (the Aero). Steel just lends itself to better surface finishing and to making the contrast of brushed & polished surfaces look good. The screw-down crown is beefy and smooth. The piece really feels high-end, moreso that the Aerospace does, and the Colt feels like it merits the label “professional” watch. Probably some of that is due to the higher weight of steel feeling more present on the wrist versus titanium. Anyway – I like it, a lot. Job well done, Breitling.
· The dial is more interestingly intricate than I expected. The whole dial is covered by a concentric set of grooves that really only become visible when tilting the watch in the light. The numerals are backed by a thicker set of these grooves, and the numerals stand proud of the grooves. I’m usually more of a “markers” guy than a “numerals” guy, but these numbers look good on those grooves, and they’re printed in a highly effective lume with kind of a gray shadow effect behind them. Looks both aesthetically pleasing, and very legible as well.
· You can see the “concentric ring” effect better in this picture that I found on the web of a blue-dialed version. The black dial I have is matte, however:
· This watch has a fair amount of height from the dial to the crystal, and there’s a good looking angled chapter ring that fills the gap nicely. Overall, there is a lot of printing on this dial. But it seems to work well and look cohesive. I especially like the railroad-track markings for the minutes.
· The hands are rather plain – straight bars with pointed ends. Filled with lume. I wonder if more of a plongeur style hand might have been considered, but on second thought, these look good and are thankfully restrained -- not gaudy, oversized, or overstyled. The sober hands help tone down the relatively busy dial.
· The ornate, applied, Breitling wings emblem, the red triangle tipped seconds hand, and the red “COLT” inscription, all give the watch a welcome touch of jaunty verve. However, I wish they would have used a black date dial w/white numbers, versus the white w/black that the watch actually has. Also, I suggest that visually, the seconds hand has an excessively long “tail”.
· Very nice caseback in a high-polish finish with embossed Breitling logo and engraved detailing:
· The HEQ / HAQ thermocompensated “SuperQuartz” movement is supposed to be accurate to within 15 seconds per year and has an 8-year battery life. Those are impressive specs, and we’ll see how well it performs in real life. (As a point of comparison, my Grand Seiko SBGX061 HAQ is pretty much spot-on: it gains about 1 to 2 seconds between DST changeovers.) I’m glad that the seconds hand of the Breitling hits the markers perfectly accurately as it ticks around the dial. It moves with precision, versus the “bouncy” or jiggly tick of some cheap quartz watches. Not quite as syrupy / stately as the luscious tick of the Grand Seiko Quartz, but still – good!
· The bracelet is hefty, beefy steel, well constructed, and feels really satisfying to wear. I think the slash-angle links look really good on the wrist. It’s a 20mm untapered bracelet. And the clasp is nicely made and closes securely with a solid click – better again than my Aerospace – that particular clasp depends on the safety fliplock for its security. This one’s good.
Overall, this is a strong, hearty and solid watch with legitimate high-performance claims, a definite wrist presence, and a pleasing design that is new and different to me. It’s exceeded what I was hoping for, mostly because I like its looks, I love High-Accuracy-Quartz, and its size is proving very nicely wearable for someone who does not prefer large, bold watches. I’m happy with it!
BTW -- Production of this model was discontinued by Breitling late in 2011. My example was purchased new from a U.S. AD in February of 2013. Personally, I think the A74380 is the best looking Colt that Breitling ever made. It is more subtle and understated than most Breitling models currently in production. For example, I like the look of mine a lot better than the new 44mm SuperQuartz model Breitling has replaced it with – they call it the “Colt 44”:
Thanks for reading!