With its two superimposed central chronograph hands, of which one can be stopped, by pushing the push-piece being integrated in the crown, so as to measure an intermediate (split) time, before “catching up” (= rattraper in French), by again pushing the push-piece being integrated in the crown, with the first one still sweeping onwards, the split-seconds chronograph is considered one of the most sophisticated watchmaking mechanisms to create.
With this development Breitling underlines once again its competence in developping in-house calibres. Split-seconds chronographs are manufactured in small series. Watchmakers have to perform a lengthy process of adjustment and rating by correcting the clearance of the split-seconds wheel and pinion, adapting the tension of the springs, adjusting the degree of penetration of the clamps ...
Jean-Paul Girardin, the brands CEO, explained me the difficulties: "Alexander, as you know the major challenge for the developers of a split-seconds chronograph movement relates to the level of energy. The constant stopping and starting of the split-seconds hand results in variable energy requirements that can prove detrimental to chronometric precision and reduce a watch’s power reserve. One of the means of resolving this issue consists in equipping the movement with an isolating system serving to disconnect the split-seconds hand when it is stopped. This was the approach chosen by Breitling. However, my engineers and watchmakers revisited the construction of the split-seconds mechanism in order to achieve a more reliable and effective solution. They therefore developed two innovations for which patents have been filed. The first breakthrough relates to the isolating system. The component driving the split-seconds lever normally takes the form of a cylindrical pin: an organ that is complex to produce below a certain diameter. We have replaced this pin by a stamped part enabling it to achieve a more precisely defined shape, as well as enhanced sturdiness. Thanks to this isolating system, the use of the split-seconds hand has no impact on the precision of the timing, nor on the power reserve. The second innovation concerns the mechanism for stopping the split-seconds hand. Watchmakers traditionally use a wheel - either smooth or with extremely fine toothing - that is clamped in place. This system is complicated to produce and can lead to a certain degree of inaccuracy. Inspired by cycle brakes equipped with rubber pads, Breitling’s engineers had the idea of surrounding the wheel with an O-ring seal that would be compressed by the clamp. This results in extremely precise stopping and a system that is simpler to produce and thus more reliable."
The new selfwinding split-seconds chronograph Calibre B03 uses the basis of the Breitling Calibre 01. The latter, as you all know, is an intelligent platform that has already enabled the addition of other useful functions such as second zone-time indication or the worldtime displays featuring unprecedented user friendliness.
The B03 therefore picks up all the advantages of the Calibre 01, including a 70-hour power reserve as well as an innovative modular-type architecture.
The split-seconds mechanism comprises just 28 (Yes, twenty eight!!!!) parts
Regrouping most of these components in a module fitted between the mainplate and the calendar mechanism not only simplifies production and assembly, but also maintenance – since the watchmaker can remove the module as a single block for any servicing or repairs.
Like all Breitling movements, the Manufacture Breitling Calibre B03 is chronometer-certified by the COSC (The Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute).
The Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante will be sold in a 45 mm case in steel as well as a 250-piece red gold limited edition (equipped with a transparent caseback).
I personally would go for the steel version with this good looking and for the watch exclusive bronze-colored dial - so cool!
Movement: Manufacture Breitling Calibre B03, officially chronometer-certified by the COSC, self-winding, 28,800 A/h (= 4 Hz / 1/8th of a second), 46 jewels, More than 70-hour power reserve. Split-seconds chronograph, 30-minute and 12-hour totalizers. Calendar.
Case: steel or 18 carat red gold (250-piece limited series, transparent sapphire crystal caseback). Resistance 3 bars. Rotating bezel with circular slide rule. Cambered sapphire crystal, glareproofed on both sides. Diameter: 45 mm.
Dial: Panamerican bronze.
Straps/Bracelet: leather, crocodile, rubber Navitimer/Navitimer (steel only)
starting in Gold 25.770 Euro including 20 % VAT
starting in Steel 10.140 Euro including 20 % VAT