Tuesday, February 3, 2009

First Blog is the Deepest

OK, so the concept here is a new watch profiled, every week. An interesting exercise. But where to start. There are so many watches, and the first post had better be good. Do I pick the watch I like the most? The most complex? The one I like the most from my collection? My most recent acquisition? Or the one I'd like to buy if I had the cash?

So many different ways of doing this. And yet, the answer came to me as I was, well, checking the time.

I'm going to start this "watch of the week" site with a comment on the watch I'm wearing today: A Breitling Aerospace "Repetition Minutes"

Breitling has been designing watches, primarily for marine or aviation use, since 1884. They are well known, and a bit of a "poseur" watch if you don't have a flying license. Great branding, but not all that common. The most common and well known Breitling is the Navitimer, which has a circular slide rule as a rotating bezel - so people who know how to use a slide rule can do essential flight calculations at the drop of a hat - pounds of fuel to litres, anyone?

The Breitling “flying B” is a scripted B incorporated into an anchor, having wings. This way, the Breitlings appeal to both flight professionals and sailors, though they're really more known as a flight watch. Richard Branson's solo flight around the world in a hot air baloon was sponsored by Breitling, and you don't get tougher (or more "poseur") than that... Imagine a big silver hot air balloon with BREITLING in huge letters and you'll understand what I mean.

The Breitling aerospace is one of my favorite watches, and a perfect example of an “ana-digi” watch. I've got a bit of a weakness for ana-digi watches, as you'll learn over time if you follow this site. By perfect example: it's thin, lightweight (because it is made of titanium), water resistant, and simple to use. It has an easy to read analog dial with two apertures containing digital readouts. The digital readouts can be used to display time, date, a second time zone, a countdown timer, an alarm, or a chronograph. Or, the digital readouts can be left blank. All functions are operated through the crown: rotate to change the readout from one feature to the next; press to start the chronograph, timer, or toggle the alarm; pull out to set; hold down to reset.

The watch is a “repeater” (hence the “repetition minutes” in its name) - though this isn’t as complicated a feature as it would be on a mechanical watch. Pushing down the crown in "time", "date", or "blank" mode and the watch will count off hours, quarter hours, and minutes, using three different ‘chimes’. This allows you to tell the time without looking at the watch.

The watch is a COSC certified swiss chronometer. This is a bit of a gimmick, I think, for digital watches - they're all pretty accurate. Apparently, the COSC has a different accuracy tolerance for digital watches, so these are "really, really accurate", but I've never really noticed any digital watch gaining or losing more than a second or two a month. I guess when you make expensive watches that take batteries, you need to justify it somehow - a COSC certification is one way of doing that.

The watch features an all titanium watch body and band. The band is a premium band, with a double clasp, screw-type pins, and a wetsuit extension. I really like the look of the band - something about the brushed titanium looks really good. I think it has something to do with the bevelling around each rectangular piece. Nice integration with the face, too. Only one little annoyance - it's not the most comfortable band on the planet. The curvature on the double clasp is a bit wrong for my wrist, which makes that part of the band dig into my wrist. also, the "double clasp" part tends to dig in as well. Maybe I need to adjust the links so that more are on one side?

The watch features a gray dial that is exactly the same color as the body and band (other dials, such as blue and black, were also available for this watch, but I really like the monochromatic look). The dial features green luminescent hour markings with arabic numerals at 12, 3, 6 and 9. Hands are matching with green luminescence. The two digital apertures feature greenish LCDs on a black background. The top aperture indicates the mode (CHR=chronograph; T2 = second time zone, etc.) where the bottom aperture indicates 3 sets of two numbers from 0-9. The hands are gorgeous, simple, also titanium colored (though a little lighter than the face). I love how the minute hand extends beyond the middle of the watch, but the hour hand doesn't. the tapering on the hands make for very precise reading of the minute. Hands move once every thirty seconds, or 120 times an hour.

The dial is surrounded with the characteristic Breitling rotating bezel engraved from 0-59, with inserts at 0, 15, 30 and 45, and a luminescent dot in the insert at 0. The bezel, and inserts, are all titanium (the watch was also available with gold inserts). Rotation is bidirectional. There are screws on the side of the bezel, every 5 minutes. Part of me likes the look of this (since it's very different than any other watch), but something simpler might have been nicer. The inserts on the bezel, especially the one at 12, have a tendancy to catch thin pieces of clothing, and I worry that one day I'm going to bend it or break it. Hasn't happened yet, though.

Dial is covered in a sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating. Mine has a tiny imperfection or scratch in the anti-reflective coating, close to the 6. I'm not sure how it got there - it was there when I bought the watch (I bought it used). I'm pretty hard on my watches, and the sapphire hasn't got a single other scratch on it, so the last owner must have banged it pretty hard to get this scratch.

Original crown, of course, marked with Breitling “B”. Not the flying wings or anchor, but just the scripted B.

Interestingly, the back of the watch contains metric conversion information purportedly useful for pilots. for example, it tells me that 2.54 cm = 1 inch, 1 cm = 0.39 inches. I guess this is a holdover from the Navitimers - I'm not sure how useful it is on this watch, since the watch doesn't have a slide rule.

Strangely, the back is a pop-off (I would expect a screw back on a watch of this quality). Probably because of the titanium - not sure how easy it is to machine a titanium screw back. Watch is considered waterproof to 50 m.

I love this watch. It's a "no excuses" watch. I can wear it anywhere - it's never "too good" (the titanium finish and the digital dials downplay it to a certain extent - no bling here); it's never "not enough" (it's a Breitling. Completely respectable in just about every circle). I can wear it in the shower, it'll wake me up in the morning (though the alarm isn't all that loud - maybe the titanium doesn't resonate as well as stainless steel?). I like the redundancy of a chronograph function and a rotating bezel. Just love this watch.

No comments:

Post a Comment