It’s finally here!
Or, actually it’s been here for a bit, but finally getting to the review, after waiting to get the bracelet sized.
Let’s get straight to the reveal, shall we?
I even bought a “nice looking” budget winder (owned one of these already, a Heiden, but they upgraded it since then), making for a very pleasant house for the new arrival, for about a hundred bucks or so. The Breitling box itself will remain on display, in its own little temple area, haha, for as long as it takes me to stop pinching myself that I own a Breitling (not estimated to be any time soon!).
Purchase was the first snag, even trying to locate one. Found one on Chrono24 after weeks of effort to locate a vendor who could actually get a hold of one (seems these are a tad popular in some circles, I guess), but the payment system wouldn’t work due to some system glitch, so I had to start over. Finally found an AD in the USA who was able to connect with Breitling to order one from them directly, but it was the model on the leather strap, and, again, it meant more waiting for it to arrive, but at least it was finally on the way!
I ordered the Professional III bracelet separately, and finally located a place to install and size it (I need to invest in tools for screw fastened bracelets, now that I have a few watches of that sort), due to my usual jeweler for such needs expanding to a new location, which won’t be open until late summer.
The local Breitling service centers were a bit snooty – one would not do it the same day, because I didn’t buy it from them, which just wasn’t convenient for my schedule, to trek to them twice, and the other location didn’t even reply to my inquiry for assistance so, not much of the royal treatment, lol, for having gone the AD route. But, the electronic warranty card is nifty, and if, service is required, at least it’s covered. Odd that gray market vendors are more responsive though. But, on to the watch!
So, this is a culmination, of sorts, of 15 plus years of being enamored with watches, and slowly moving up in exploratory purchasing, from starting with the “fake wing” brand, of Invicta, to a grail brand I’ve long admired, the real wings of Breitling (although, mouth agape, they are ditching the wings, so I feel very fortunate to have secured this model with the logo I’ve so long admired). As I’ve shared here and there, it was a Breitling model (long since no longer made now) that really caught my eye, before even getting into watches heavily, so the brand has always been on my radar, in a grail kind of way, but, once into the hobby, starting with affordables, it took a while to consider justifying a high end affordable/entry-level-leaving affordable territory purchase, especially given the lack of knowledge when first getting into the hobby.
But, rather convenient that I love Breitling, and the fact that, when researching “nicer” brands to get into, at entry level, it is a brand that offers a lot for the relatively accessible price point, seemed a safe bet to sell if I didn't like it, is without doubt a brand of renown, and, by getting the strap version, and then the bracelet, I spent the same as just getting the bracelet model only, and wound up with two options for wear.
Plus, while waiting for a few weeks to get the bracelet sizing, I experimented with some NATO’s to vary the look a little. The pins are set quite close to the case, so the “seat belt” type NATO’s are a tight squeeze, but I wound up with several NATO options I liked, and have found that this watch is incredibly versatile for a range of occasions. I didn’t get a pic of the Bond style NATO, but that one looked really good, although both the black and red, as well as black and yellow, were quite complimentary, I thought. Also had a black/orange/white and a regimental green/black/red that both worked (no pics of those, my apologies).
Back when I was first asking opinions here, this was not the model I was even considering, but the Breitling chronograph model I’d been looking at was a bit on the thick side, and the quartz, although Superquartz, was still quartz, and I did want an auto. The more I stared at this one, online, the more it felt right, and, several weeks into wearing it now, I’m extremely pleased and very much loving every aspect of it.
So, specs – Perfect for my preference, Breitling makes a more generous case size, so this is the 44mm Colt Automatic, 53mm lug to lug, 22mm lug width, 11.53 mm thick, which, for me, is a wonderfully perfect fit. Feels made for my wrist and, as comfortable as it was with the supple, well-made Breitling leather (great quality strap, wow!) and the NATO’s, this Professional III bracelet, with its signature slash cut links, is silky and flexible and a joy to wear. The watch has a bit of weight at 96.49 grams (0.2 of a pound) but carries on the wrist quite light.
The end result is the desired wrist presence with no bulky aftertaste.
Nothing hugely special in the movement, not in house or anything, but a modified ETA 2824-2 re-worked with various swapped parts by Breitling to COSC specs, and dubbed the Breitling 17 Caliber. 28,800 bph for a smooth sweep, 38 hour power reserve. Accuracy is holding within COSC specs, but that’s not much different than most of my autos, haha, including my Seikos and other ETA autos (including my Certina DS Action Diver, with the standard 2824-2).
Signature Breitling styling of raised markers at four positions on the 120 click bezel gives excellent grip, and there isn’t a smidge of back play. The bezel itself, affixed with eight screws and adorned with deeply engraved indicator markings is sloped downward toward the case and bears a remarkable satin, brushed-like finish. I can stare at it, endlessly, watching it play in how light interacts with the surface, like a living thing almost and, against the deep black face, the beauty is remarkable for a watch clearly built to be a working tool. The four raised markings are polished, giving extra highlights, with the inner engraved numerals in satin, stating their positions of 15, 30 and 45, and then the top 60/00 mark is inset with a luminous pip and further differentiated with a downward arrow.
The inner ring of the bezel is also satin, while outer case elements are polished. The satin elements of the case match the satin finish of the Professional III bracelet, while the polished elements compliment the bracelet’s polished sides. Clasp and closure areas of the bracelet are adorned with Breitling branding, and the locking screw down crown of the watch, easily accessed but protected with beveled crown guards, bears the Breitling “B.”
I chose volcanic black (as Breitling deems the color) for the dial and it was a good choice. I wasn’t sure of the very specific blue they offer, and wanted something versatile, and felt the black and silver complimented each other, which they do. There is an inner decimeter scale, which slopes down to an outer “railroad” track ring with minute indicators, followed then by applied, silver outlined lumed bar indices, a bold numeral 12 at the noon position in silver, not lumed, and an inner chapter ring of military time designation, from 13 to 24, as a nod to the military heritage of the brand.
With the gold Breitling labeling, and white markings and lettering all beautifully centered on the extremely black dial, legibility and balance is remarkable, for my taste. The simple, pointed stick hands, outlined in silver and lumed, along with the red arrow-tipped polished silver second hand, all combine for extremely easy reading of the time.
Much to my surprise, lume is quite generous, and glows assuredly until morning.
A squared date window, outlined in white, resides at the 3 position, a favorite spot for me, and what I desired in a symmetrically pleasing appearance has been delivered, and made me quite glad I did not opt for the originally intended chronograph version. This is just busy enough to be interesting, but plain enough to be refined, even elegant in its own way.
So, I love the watch!
The deeper review is one of watch buying philosophy, perhaps. Do I think it’s worth it?
I’m one to argue specs all day long, and defend affordable buys to the hilt, often asking why spend more, when you can get something similar, for less? Not to sell this Breitling short, but this is a glorified ETA 2824-2, housed in stainless, usual protections for shock and durability, lumed, legible dial, with an AR coated (inside and out) sapphire crystal on a pleasing bracelet.
Can this not be bought, in somewhat similar spec, for far less? Yes. It can.
But….it’s a Breitling! Does that matter? Yes, it does. To me. And, so I get it now, spending a bit more.
Reading the Breitling marketing may sound like hype: a rigorously controlled production environment with specific temperature and humidity ranges, akin to a medical lab in fastidiousness, with super filtrated air, swapped out every six hours, and, for the bracelet, which is “sawn, drilled and profile-turned from four-meter long bars using computerized numerically controlled machines, which are then patiently hand-polished - the only guarantee of a high-quality finish - before being hand-assembled and then polished again, with links and pins fusion-welded (without adding any material) at a temperature of 3400° C, thus guaranteeing exceptional durability,” and the watch itself, which, as a Breitling chronometer undergoes no less than 1,000 controls during the production process, and on it goes….
Does all that make a difference? Yes, it does, for me. I understand now, perhaps only even in a rudimentary way at an entry level model here, what can go into a brand, and what is behind it, and, while elements of that may seem intangible, the end result on the wrist is palpable. It simply exudes quality. Is it “infinitely better” as some would say, upper brands versus more ordinary? I wouldn’t go that far, perhaps, but the thinking makes sense now, where it did not before (my apologies to Mav) and it far surpasses anything in my affordables collection, and it’s been an eye opener.
I was told a long time ago, to delay the instant gratification of affordables and save for something more grand. I eventually started doing that, years ago, and I’m glad it led me to this purchase. It is just my journey, and maybe no one else will share it, but, for me, I feel like I’ve learned something with this buy, and it has increased my satisfaction in watch ownership, as a passion and hobby.
I don’t look down on any of my beginner watches, because I wouldn’t be where I am without them, including Invicta, and, if someone has a budget to consider (which I do, to varying degrees at times) I will still advocate for amazing watches for far less cost that are hugely gratifying to own, in their own right.
But, the slightly rarefied air of the Breitling factory has reached me and, when I now read of someone going off the deep end in praise of upper brands or watches I know not of, for which they have found elements of watch Nirvana, I can now smile, and say, “Yes, I understand,” even if it’s only a little bit.
I will continue to buy slower in this later phase of watch hobbying, but I do have my sites set on new milestones now, and, even if those summits seem far away, the journey to reach them now feels worth it. I have bought bigger, and am the richer for it (despite my pocketbook perhaps not agreeing, entirely, haha).
Not that I still won’t indulge in something that truly catches my eye, along the way (I’m currently waiting on a new microbranded diver to show up, in July, amazing specs for the price!) but I feel a firmer sense of direction now.
My watch buying has grown up a tad, perhaps, and I feel good about it.
Thanks for reading, and thanks to all of the many folks on here who have inspired me, educated me, tolerated me, and even argued with me, in my time here.
And the journey continues…