There’s a new Breitling, and I bet I already know what your first question is: what is the diameter of this new Chronoliner? At 46mm, some might find this watch rather imposing, and it undoubtedly is, but we need to remember where the Chronoliner comes from to make sense of this. It is the successor to the vintage references 765 AVI, 765 Co-Pilot, and 7650 Co-Pilot, which measured well above 40mm some 50+ years ago, as they were first and foremost intended as tool watches for pilots. And in a cockpit, a larger diameter often allows for an increased legibility. Breitling was always careful to offer short lugs in order to avoid the watches feeling like a pizza on the wrist (although some 47mm vintage Breitlings are actually nicknamed the "Pizza," but this is a story for another time).
The design cues of the vintage AVI/Co-Pilot chronographs are there on this new model, from the luminous markers in the minute sub-register to the very specific handset. The rotating bezel constitutes the one main difference, not only because it is made of blue ceramic, which comes with a better resistance to scratches, but also because it shows 24 hours for setting another timezone instead of the original 12 hours for tracking an event. This is all because the Chronoliner brings something new to the table – a GMT complication with a 24-hour hand (the slim red-tipped one), with a direct read-out on that outer scale. As such, this already allows you to track two separate timezones, the local one on the main handset, and the "home" one on this additional hand. The bezel then ends up offering a third timezone, say the time of your next remote destination if you are a fearless pilot, real or imaginary.
The name of this new Breitling tells you all the rest you need to know: B04 stand for the in-house caliber with the GMT complication, while the Boutique Edition both explains where you can find this Chronoliner and why it is in deep blue. Breitling calls this "Aurora blue" in a nice nod to the aviation world, and this color is frequently used in special releases of the classics, such as the Navitimer, the Cosmonaute, and the Chronomat. While the date window on the Chronoliner will surely have its fair share of detractors, one cannot fail to recognize its neat integration into the dial, as it comes in a matching blue. And again, in terms of convenience, a date makes total sense, especially when you know that it is connected to the local time as to avoid any misunderstanding (anyone who has a ever woken up one day too early/late for a flight would agree).
The automatic B04 movement is a variation of the caliber B01, which was launched in 2009 after years of development and is still manufactured to this day by Breitling (you recently heard that Tudor chose a modified version of it for the Black Bay Chronograph too). Like the B01, the B04 shows the column-wheel mechanism, which purists prefer to simpler cam-operated chronographs, and it offers a respectable 70-hour power reserve. Like the entire Breitling production since 1999, the Chronoliner is chronometer-certified by the COSC, so accuracy is not a concern here.
The Chronoliner B04 Boutique Edition will be available only in the 50 or so Breitling boutiques across the world, and it is limited to 100 pieces. It comes on the blue rubber strap pictured, with a 24mm lug width that balances the 46mm diameter. The caseback is described as sporting a "vintage-look pin-up" but no renderings were provided and we’re yet to see one of these in the metal.
The Chronoliner B04 Boutique Edition retails for $9,150. For more information, visit Breitling online.