Grand Tyme Master
- Jul 17, 2014
Hands-On: Breitling Chronomat Automatic GMT 40 Watch
November 4, 2022 by David Bredan
The new Breitling Chronomat Automatic GMT 40 watch, or Chronomat GMT for short, is tasked with filling the remaining gap in its namesake collection: All the popular sizes had been covered from petite 32mm all the way to brutish 44mm, but 40mm, the sweet-spot for many, had spent the last two years since the collection’s complete overhaul untouched. The new Chronomat GMT 40 combines five distinct dial colors with a calculated package of form and function to make the Chronomat collection complete.
It all makes sense when you look at it from a birds-eye view: The Chronomat that Breitling intends to be its “all-purpose, elegant sports watch” was begging for a new model that would meet the latest trends when it comes to a newfound appreciation for smaller watches, watches that offered real-world functionality with less bulk. Chronographs are cool, and chronographs with rotatable timing bezels, like that on the Chronomat 42 and Chronomat 44, are arguably cooler, still. But those watches can’t be other than thick and heavy: They combine close to 400-part movements with 200 meters of water resistance and the aforementioned rotating bezel.
Leading brands have identified a growing group of customers looking for watches between 39 and 41 millimeters in diameter who desire actual utility and versatile aesthetics from their next watch purchase. Identifying said market wasn’t that difficult: “Follow the leader” has been the name of the game for many brands, and the leader is Rolex, selling literally tons of watches every year that measure between 36mm and 40mm. The Breitling of old would have followed up the 42mm and 44mm Chronomats with a 46mm beast of a watch, just for the heck of it — and modern fans of the brand would’ve loved it for that. So as not to alienate them, the Breitling of today has launched a beefed-up version called the Super Chronomat 44, but it’s also cleverly identified the gaping hole in its lineup and patched it with this very watch, the Chronomat GMT 40.
The new Chronomat GMT 40 measures 40mm in diameter and just 11.77mm in thickness, making for a great daily wear. Despite its smaller dimensions, it has maintained the 200m water resistance rating of its larger alternatives, so it has not sacrificed anything from the all-rounder appeal of the Chronomat 42 and 44. The lug-to-lug measurement is just 47.4mm, falling considerably below the 50mm mark, which serves as an upper limit of wearability for those with narrower wrists. The crown guard is very neatly finished and integrated into the profile of the case, with gently curved and polished edges that lead to the somewhat oversized crown. Fans of the Chronomat will notice that the 15 and 45 runner tabs of the bezel are no longer secured by screws and swappable with each other — to turn a timer bezel into a countdown timer, as is possible on some other current and historic Chronomat models. The tabs and their tiny screws set into the periphery of the bezel are a neat and authentic Chronomat touch — in this instance, they seem to have been removed in favor of a thinner bezel and a cleaner look.
The Rouleaux bracelet is also present and is as gorgeous as it is on the larger models. Few, if any, other watches in the sub-$6,000 segment can claim to offer this level of refinement in a steel bracelet. All the links have beveled and polished edges, and the fit and finish between every link are such that it would still remain acceptable if fitted to a watch three times the price. Sadly, the construction of the bracelet eliminates the possibility of including a micro-adjust to the butterfly clasp. The only small remedy is that the individual links are so narrow that they allow for a decent fit to be found for most wrist sizes.
The solid steel caseback hides a COSC-certified chronometer movement that Breitling calls a Caliber 32, which is an ETA 2893-2. This automatic movement is just 4.1mm-thick, which certainly helps with achieving the 11.77mm overall thickness of the Chronomat GMT 40. Keep in mind that not only the rotating bezel and 200m water resistance but also the four highly stacked hands (with the inclusion of the heavy GMT hand) add to the thickness of the case. It runs at a modern 4 Hertz operating frequency, but its power reserve is a short 42 hours. The latter is unlikely to increase until Breitling continues its switch to producing more self-winding, non-chronograph movements in-house. At least the Breitling Caliber 32’s automatic system winds in both directions of its rotation, which should help recharge the power reserve faster.
Five dial colors are available at the moment for the Breitling Chronomat GMT 40: black, blue, green, white, and anthracite. Even the colorful ones, such as the blue or the green, are rather subdued in their saturation and can show up quite dark unless viewed under direct sunlight. Whether the color schemes work is down to individual taste, of course, but it could be argued that the red GMT hand and red GMT text are not the best matches for all these variations. All the hands, hour markers, as well as the pip on the bezel feature Super-LumiNova for enhanced low-light legibility, ticking another requirement off from the “daily wearer checklist.”
On the wrist, the Breitling Chronomat GMT 40 wears great, in no small part thanks to the flexibility and smoothness of the Rouleaux bracelet and its narrow links, as well as the moderate thickness of the 40mm case itself. Crafted from stainless steel and even fitted with a solid steel caseback, the Chronomat GMT 40 is a watch of considerable heft, and currently no leather or fabric strap alternative is available from the brand to help ease the weight, even though the green one would probably look ace on a dark brown leather strap.
In conclusion, the new Breitling Chronomat GMT 40 was designed to be a great all-purpose watch for daily wear — and spec-wise, it seems to have delivered everything required to support that. Whether the color combinations are on point for office wear, or if the new line would have benefitted from a bit more pizzazz, is for everyone to decide on their own. The new Breitling Chronomat GMT 40 is priced at $5,600 USD. You can learn more at the brand’s website.