Value continues to be the game for the watch industry, and Breitling delivered it in spades at Baselworld 2017. On the movement front, the brand revealed an arrangement with Tudor that has the two manufactures supplying movements to each other – Breitling will acquire Tudor’s MT5612 calibre and skip the research and development for a modern, reliable three-hand movement, while simultaneously selling its B01 chronograph calibre to Tudor, which undoubtedly improves its production economies of scale. This new strategy was backed with the release of several competitively-priced timepieces at the fair, including the Colt Skyracer, which arguably has the strongest value proposition among its novelties.
Traditionally, the Colt collection has consisted of the most affordable (and consequently the most basic) tool watches within Breitling’s line-up. The Skyracer, however, bucks this trend by being very aggressively priced at S$2,850, even for the Colt family, yet surprisingly advanced on a technical level. The standout feature here is its case, which uses Breitlight, Breitling’s proprietary carbon composite that debuted in the Avenger Hurricane chronograph just last year. The material’s mottled black-and-grey appearance doesn’t just impart a no-nonsense, technical look to the watch, but also comes with several benefits such as weight savings – Breitlight is 3.3 times lighter than titanium and 5.8 times lighter than steel, which makes the Colt Skyracer far lighter than its chunky 45mm case suggests. In fact, the tactility of the watch must be experienced personally to be appreciated; it feels preternaturally light, and its (lack of) mass makes for an extremely comfortable presence on the wrist, size notwithstanding.
The movement housed within the Colt Skyracer’s case is equally adept, and a familiar one – Breitling’s Caliber 74 SuperQuartz movement, which is COSC-certified and used in several other Colt watches. Based on ETA’s top-of-the-line Flatline 955.652 quartz calibre, this movement is thermocompensated (hence Breitling’s SuperQuartz label), so it can account for and correct rate deviations caused by temperature variations. In fact, the movement is capable of keeping time to 10 seconds a year; ETA’s technical document actually prescribes regulating it to 0.8 seconds a month.
Aficionados who are acquainted with Breitling’s products will find the Colt Skyracer’s design to be a familiar one. The timepiece projects an overtly military vibe, with a heavy premium on legibility and usability. The former is achieved with a stark white-on-black colour scheme with red accents, alongside bold markings on the dial and bezel, as well as large sword hands that mark the time. Ease of use, meanwhile, stems from the large knurled crown and tabbed unidirectional rotating bezel, which are easily manipulated. As a finishing touch, the Colt Skyracer’s strap doubles as a ruler – it can be easily removed without tools, and comes embossed with markings to measure lengths in both centimetres and inches.