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Breitling Transocean Chronograph
The Breitling TransOcean is the third watch to incorporate the brilliant in-house Calibre 01 movement.
The first two timepieces that were driven by this movement were the B01 and the Navitimer 01. Both of these models are available in Stainless Steel and in Rose Gold.
As can be seen from the above images the designs were taken from existing models, the Chronomat and Navitimer respectively, and given slight design tweaks. These were two existing flagship models for Breitling and it made perfect sense to announce the arrival of their brand new in-house movement with these two models. However, even the most die hard Breitling fan cannot argue against the fact that the B01 and Navitimer 01 are ostensibly tool watches and, as a result are fairly busy looking and could not truly pass as dress watches.
The TransOcean has been brought out to fill that gap. Breitling have sourced the name and the inspiration for the TransOcean from one of their vintage models. The original TransOcean was brought out in 1958.
Picture borrowed from Breitling Source:
This shock-resistant, antimagnetic, high precision and water tight timepiece was the epitome of refinement and soon became very popular. The TransOcean was brought out to accompany the boom in Transatlantic commercial travel. This was an era when the continents were brought so much closer for the first time. The advertising slogan stated “Men who have faith in the mighty liners of the sky will trust the TransOcean, for behind every Breitling wrist watch lies the experience of aviation passion”.
Breitling have incorporated a tri-compax chronograph, a date display and a tachymetre display on the dial of this re-edition. Even still, the first impressions on seeing the TransOcean is that it is undoubtedly a classical looking dress piece. Functional and elegant.
It is no easy feat to achieve this. It requires meticulous attention to detail and clever use of materials. All dimensions become critical, including the case diameter, case thickness, the dial, the lugs and the bezel. As you can see harmony is achieved between these major elements in the TransOcean.
The TransOcean is effortlessly cool. This 43mm diameter watch is to be admired by the lucky owner only. At ten paces away it looks fairly generic and non-descript. At 10 inches away all of the subtle design details work as one, the high end materials come to life and the TransOcean becomes one of the most beautiful watches Breitling has ever produced.
One of the main reasons for this is the silvered dial which changes character as soon as lighting conditions change.
This subtle change is nigh on impossible to convey with pictures but these attempts below go a little way to highlighting the differences in the dial colour given minor changes of viewing angle. This gives the watch a certain fluidity and ever changing aesthetic that creates an almost constant desire to gaze upon the dial.
As the dial changes colour slightly an optical illusion is created as the subdials also seem to change hue. In actual fact they are simply becoming more or less pronounced against the lighter or darker shades of silver of the main dial. They can look anything from a very classy silver to a very warm cream colour, which works wonderfully against the main silvered dial.
Upon closer inspection the other well thought out design elements can be seen. These include the applied 18K gold Flying B, which is a reflection of Breitlings original logo………….
……….the date window which has been given a vintage font………
…….the Tachymetre scale, that has also been given its own befitting font………
………..the elegantly thin contrasting polished and brushed finished hands with discrete but functional amounts of Superluminova……………
……and the high quality engraving on the side of the case that denotes the limited edition status of this timepiece and makes every single example unique.
As lights fade the luminosity of the dial becomes evident. There is not the usual liberal application of Superluminova that we may expect these days but there really doesn’t need to be. The time can easily be read for many hours once all light is extinguished.
So, that’s the rewarding front aspect of the TransOcean Limited Edition dealt with. Just as impressive and covetable is the exhibition caseback that allows the incredible vantage of the brand new in-house Calibre 01 movement, with it’s COSC certification, 70 hour power reserve high frequency 28,800 vph, 47 jewels and column wheel chronograph.
Breitling Calibre 01
This would be a work of art if it wasn’t so functional.
Continuing on the functionality theme: The water resistance of the TransOcean is a very usable 100m. This is a welcome step up from the 30m water resistance of the Navitimer range. With the mesh bracelet this watch could be used in all sub-aquatic conditions, other than deep sea diving, without any cause for concern for the well being of the glorious Calibre 01 movement beating within.
However, my personal preference for the TransOcean would be on the brown crocodile strap. You lose the option to take the watch under water but you gain aesthetically, in my opinion. The Ocean Racer mesh bracelet is undoubtedly very desirable and is reflective of the era of the original TransOcean. However, it is a busy looking bracelet so, therefore, I don’t think it sits as comfortably with the incredibly understated dial as a high end leather strap. The brown crocodile strap adds it’s own level of warmth to the overall package. Here are a few pictures to highlight this point:
As well as this silver dialled Stainless Steel TransOcean there is a black dialled version in Stainless Steel and a stunning Rose Gold version with either a black or silver dial available:
I have to congratulate Breitling in their decision to re-invent this classic timepiece. They have brought it bang up to date with the addition of their proprietary Calibre 01 movement and the wonderful use of high end materials. The watch manages that rare combination of looking vintage and contemporary at the same time. The TransOcean rewards the wearer in so many ways. Classical looking dress watches are usually undersized simple affairs with no complications. Breitling have managed to create a tool watch and a dress watch at the same time. Upon turning the watch over the TransOcean takes on a whole new character as we are reminded that Breitling are now a true manufacture. Quite simply this is the most beautiful watch that Breitling makes.
My sincerest gratitude goes to Andrew Michaels Jewellers for lending me all of the watches featured here for the photographs.
All words and pictures by Richard Atkins (unless otherwise stated). Please ask if you wish to reproduce any of the material in this article.
About the author
Rick has been an avid watch fanatic for as long as he can remember. He has always been fascinated by horology and was the first pupil in his class to be able to tell the time at the age of 5. He bought his first high end watch 16 years ago and the lunacy has continued unabated ever since. He has been a long time contributor to many global watch forums. He does not have any brand loyalty. In fact he currently owns 7 watches all from different brands. Rick has a comprehensive knowledge of the inner workings of mechanical watches and is a member of the BHI. Rick has been supplying articles for Andrew Michaels Jewellers’ blog page since the end of 2010. He is now working at the Andrew Michaels’ shop in what he refers to as his dream vocation.
Andrew Michaels Jewellers are a family run business and have been selling high end watches and jewellery for over 25 years. They are the largest stockist of Breitling in the country and are used to showcase Breitling at Airshows, etc, throughout the year. Andrew Michaels Jewellers also stock Chopard, Bell and Ross, Tag Heuer, Seiko (including Spring Drive, Ananta and the ability to source Grand Seiko), Montblanc and Graham. They are very much respected by each of these brands and can easily get hold of supposedly ‘boutique only’ timepieces.
They also hold an impressive stock of second hand timepieces. Furthermore, their own in-house goldsmith and jeweller, has the ability to create bespoke high end jewellery.