One century ago, Breitling created the first independent chronograph pushpiece. To celebrate this milestone invention that was to change the face of the chronograph, the brand is introducing a limited series of its Transocean model, with an exclusive new Manufacture Breitling caliber and an unusual design reinterpreting the famous 1915 pushpiece.
Pocket chronographs had only one pushpiece, housed in the crown and successively handling the start, stop and zero-reset functions. In 1915 Breitling – a specialist in technical watches – was one of the very first brands to offer a wrist chronograph. But when relocating it from the waistcoat pocket to the wrist, the firm introduced an innovation that did not go unnoticed. The founder’s son, Gaston Breitling, came up with the ingenious idea of ensuring a clearer separation of functions by creating a pushpiece independent of the crown to control the three chronograph operations. Keen to ensure smooth, ergonomic handling, he chose to place the pushpiece at 2 O’Clock, where the thumb or forefinger naturally rests whether the watch is on the wrist or held in the palm of the hand.
In 1923, Breitling perfected this system by separating the stop/start functions, governed by the pushpiece at 2 o’clock, from the crown-activated zero-resetting system. This patented innovation would enable users to add up several successive times without needing to reset the hands to zero – whether timing a sports competition, a scientific process or a flight time. Finally, in 1934, Breitling took the final step in shaping the modern face of the chronograph by creating the second independent pushpiece exclusively intended for zero-resetting. This patented invention was soon adopted by all its competitors.
Now you have read the history behind this re-edition let’s look at the piece itself.
The stainless steel case is designed in true Transocean style and is 43mm in diameter with smoothly curved lugs. The dial on the piece is a lustrous two tone silvery white with darkened centre and sub-dials with an excellent vintage look and feel to it. The two sub-dials are a darker shade than the rest of the dial, more cream than white which seems to make the dial feel layered and are placed in the conventional places of seconds at 3 O’Clock and minutes at 9 O’Clock with a date window at 6 O’Clock. Large Arabic numbers adorn the dial edge with a faded vintage orange look to them, a similar effect was used on the new Omega Seamster Master Co-Axial. The baton type hands are luminescent coated with lovely shading to give the impression of vintage ageing. Finishing off the dial is a historical Breitling signature chronograph feature. It’s started and stopped with a mono-pusher located at the now infamous position of 2 O’Clock, however it’s been slightly elongated to smoothly integrate it into the case side.
Turning the piece over Breitling have added an exhibition caseback enabling you to admire the unusual construction of the superb new manufactured hand-wound movement, the Breitling calibre B14. It’s equipped with an ingenious two-tiered double column-wheel system arranged over two levels activated by the chronograph pusher, and officially chronometer-certified and beating at 28,800 VPH.
Finishing off the piece you have a choice of strap/bracelet as the 1915 comes with two, one is vintage inspired brown leather with white stitching and the other and my personal favourite a steel shark mesh which I think works with the warmth of the silvery white dial. This piece is limited to 1,915 pieces.
I do like the Transocean series from Breitling, especially on shark mesh straps and this is another winner for me. Breitling could have gone down the route others do with very limited issue but chose to release the same amount of the year it commemorates. I’m sure Gaston Breitling would be very happy with the piece that celebrates the milestone invention that changed the face of chronographs for ever with its vintage looks and new movement this is one collectors piece for all. For more info, please visit breitling.com
John Galt – Contributing Editor
John Galt caught the horology bug back in 2010 on his first visit to a London watch show and has snowballed since; John has become an avid writer and blogger of timepieces of all kinds, from everyday timepieces to modern Luxury Haute Horology, his favorite brands being HYT and Greubel Forsey that push the bounders of modern watch-making. John keeps a keen interest in the UK watch scene with their many emerging brands and timepiece’s. John Galt currently contributes watch related articles for online publications in the UK and USA. You can follow John on Twitter @johng73Read his articles here.