Sunday Morning Showdown: Tudor Vs. Breitling
In this Sunday morning column, two of our writers go head-to-head in an epic showdown for the ages. Strong opinions and hysterical hyperbole are welcome (so feel free to join in with the fun in the comments section below). And don’t forget to let us know which watches you’d like to see torn to shreds/effusively exalted next week. We’ll try and feature as many of our readers’ choices as we can. After last week’s battle of sophistication vs. opulence, the Omega Aqua Terra beat the Rolex Yacht-Master in the end. This week the Breitling Chronomat 42 B01 battles the Tudor Black Bay Chrono S&G for a showdown of the B01 movement.
Last week looked like it was going to be a tight battle until the finish line. But in the end, the Omega Aqua Terra beat the Rolex Yacht-Master quite comfortably. To enjoy the sweet taste of victory our English gentlemen Ben and fellow Brit Eddie Redmayne sailed into the sunset with a satisfactory smile on their faces. In the meantime, it was back to the second-hand car dealership for Jorg and the Yacht-Master. But both our assailants are back for more. This week’s question…what would you consider a sensible choice?
Breitling Caliber B01
This week’s battle is all about two watches that have the same engine under the hood — the manufacture Breitling B01 movement. The big question? Would you spend €8,100 of your hard-earned cash on the new Breitling Chronomat? Or would you rather spend a little less by choosing the Tudor Black Bay Chrono S&G? You even get the choice of either the steel and gold-capped bracelet for €6,500 on the Tudor. Or for even less, a leather or nylon strap for just under €5,500.
Back in 2017, when Tudor announced the Heritage Black Bay Chrono, the brand dubbed its caliber MT5813 as “in-house” — a mistake at the time. In reality, the movement turned out to be sourced from Breitling for its developed and manufactured chronograph Caliber B01. Thankfully today, readers are a little less het up on the use of the term “in-house”, but we still have some work to do.
Tudor supply Breitling with its Caliber MT5612, and Breitling supply Tudor with its Caliber B01.
It was the result of a surprising partnership between Breitling and Tudor that saw two movements shared from each brand. Up until now, we have witnessed Breitling’s B01 make its way into the Black Bay Chrono. In return, Tudor’s Caliber MT5612 is used in the Breitling SuperOcean Heritage II and the often-overlooked Aviator Super 8. Word on the (boutique) street is that Tudor cannot develop its Caliber MT5612 quick enough to meet the demands of the SOHII.
From Breitling B01 to Tudor MT5813
Breitling’s Calibre B01 is a self-winding chronograph powerhouse that features a column-wheel mechanism and vertical clutch. Before slotting the movement into its Black Bay Chrono, Tudor supplies Breitling with a few replacement components — a tungsten winding rotor, a variable inertia balance wheel, a silicon balance spring, and the axis. Breitling then modifies the movement by replacing the B01’s 30-minute sub-dial with the Black Bay Chrono’s 45-minute chronograph register.
Ben: 45-minutes to time each half of a football match?
The movement is then “decorated” in the typically industrial Tudor style. The combination of sandblasting, brushing, and laser engraving adds up to a more straightforward finishing than Breitling’s more finessed style for its movements. It’s part of the reason why the Black Bay Chrono is more attainable than the Chronomat. In a final step, all the calibers, regardless of brand, are shipped to and tested at COSC for chronometer certification. Once certified, Tudor classifies it as the Tudor Caliber MT5813, hence Tudor’s belief the movement should be regarded as in-house.
Breitling Chronomat Vs. Tudor Black Bay Chrono S&G
With all the technicalities out of the way, it’s time to introduce our contenders. In the left corner, we have the Tudor Black Bay Chrono in steel and gold. Yes, you read that correctly — two-tone for the win! Where the steel Black Bay Chrono can come across as basic and for some a bit dull, the two-tone version of the Black Bay Chrono adds a great deal of zing with its vintage John Player Special aesthetic. During the Baselword 2019 introduction, it quickly became a Fratello team favorite out of all the Tudor releases that year.
Ben: I was probably the lone wolf for liking the P01 in 2019, but we all know how that ended.
On our right is the new Breitling Chronomat 42 B01 introduced only just a few short months ago in April this year. Much praise was showered on the new Chronomat from press and enthusiasts alike. After receiving the Georges Kern treatment, the new Chronomat takes the volume down from a loud 11 to more acceptable levels. The new Chronomat trades in the previous chunky 44mm case for a very wearable 42mm alternative. In another smart move, we see the return of the legendary Rouleaux bracelet. This unique and stylish bracelet is a clever link to the 1984 Chronomat. The new and improved aesthetics should be able to win over old and new fans of the Chronomat easily.
But enough with the formalities, time to kick into gear.
Jorg Weppelink — Tudor Black Bay Chrono S&G
Last week saw Ben equalizing our series of showdowns to 2-2. The Yacht-Master’s style over substance personality couldn’t beat the Aqua Terra’s tranquil character. But I’m not giving up that easily. While Ben was off on his sailing trip with monsieur Redmayne, it was time for me to devise a plan to claim back the lead in the series. And what better way than to use the power of ratio — or price to be more specific.
Ben: We see your comments, dear readers, on the price disparity of our Showdown duos. Understand that we fight for our choice of watch and demonstrate the value despite the price difference. It may make our challenge tougher, but victory on the pricier option makes it even sweeter.
Admittedly, buying a watch is never a question of just how much money you are willing to spend. Emotion is very much part of it. But how many times have you had the discussion where one of the answers was: “I like the watch, but not for that kind of money”. That’s exactly my story with the new Chronomat. I love the “Kern-ification” of the new Chronomat. As always, the man and his team have left no stone unturned to come up with a compelling story and combined it with a smart design.
Stories from the past
But it’s hard to ignore the Chronomat’s reputation as a chunky trophy watch for disreputable characters. The sort of buyer that may have other weapons at their disposal along with the block of steel on their wrist. Unlike you Ben, I am not someone that always had the Chronomat on a list of “future purchases”. On the contrary, for a long time, the Chronomat was the shining example of everything tacky and wrong with luxury watches, and Breitling specifically. And the bad taste that it left in my mouth does not wash away that easily, especially for the sum of 8k Euros.
Lotus’ Black & Gold livery captured the hearts of many that watched Formula 1.
Where the Chronomat awakens bad memories, the Black Bay Chrono S&G brings a smile to my face. Ever since I was a young boy the black and gold aesthetic of the Lotus Formula 1 cars had a magical attraction. And not just for me. From 1972 to 1986, and a couple of years in the 2010s, Lotus’ Black & Gold livery captured the hearts of many that watched Formula 1. The proof of that was delivered once more last month when the gold Rolex Daytona John Player Special ref. 6264 was auctioned for a stunning £1.2million.
Ben: I share your passion for the JPS-liveried Lotus F1, Jorg. Primarily the 1978 championship-winning Lotus 79 driven by Mario Andretti. Watching them drop the side skirts for the “ground effect” was game-changing.
More than just looks
See, I knew you would be with me in this. Now for people like me, that don’t have Rolex auction cash lying around, the Tudor Black Bay Chrono S&G is the perfect watch. The Black Bay Chrono S&G combines that gorgeous black and gold aesthetic with a perfectly sized 41mm steel case, without being too over the top. And both the Rolex and this Tudor happen to share the same foundation. That will tell you something about both roots and the level of quality. It’s exactly why Tudor has become so successful over the last decade amongst watch enthusiasts.
The Black Bay Chrono S&G can compete with a lot of the current chronographs out there.
See, this is not just a pleasant homage to days gone by. Tudor combines vintage-inspired design with modern-day watchmaking. The Black Bay Chrono S&G is a very serious watch that can compete with a lot of the current chronographs out there including the Chronomat. It combines amazing looks with a classy movement, COSC-certification, great finishing, all for a reasonable price. It’s a package that is hard to top. And while that is a pretty rational argument, the emotional power is equally strong. It doesn’t happen often that a watch takes me back to the fun Sunday afternoons watching Formula 1 with my dad and my brother. It’s a pretty powerful personal connection to the watch to have. But I’d like to hear your thoughts on that Ben.
Ben Hodges — Breitling Chronomat 42 B01
You were smart to bring the S&G Chrono to fight this week, Jorg. Rather than the mind-numbingly dull all-steel version. Somehow the size and spacing of the sub-dials on the S&G are so much more proportional, just by varying the colors. You also bring up the vintage Rolex Daytona, with which the S&G shares a similar aesthetic. The Tudor is a great way actually to own and frequently wear the classic design without risk of damaging the watch and your wallet.
Air shows and rider tabs.
Well, when it came to damaging my wallet, I did spend €8,100 of my cash on the Breitling Chronomat. Whether it was hard-earned or not is a question for another day. But I assure you it was the full-whack amount — no discounts, even for us journos. My reasons were very personal: From frequenting air-shows and watching the Breitling bi-planes fly over the Eastbourne coast. To my Aerospace that had a continuation of the rider tab aesthetic that is endemic of Breitling and started with the Chronomat.
Home is where the heart is
The Chronomat from 2009 was also the very first Breitling to include the B01 movement. An impressive ticker that had always been on my must-have list. Couple the modern-day Chronomat with a perfect 42mm diameter and a nod to the Frecce Tricolori from 1983, and you have me hook, line and sinker. All of these reasons were given in my hands-on review of the Chronomat, so forgive me if I repeat myself. But it’s precisely as Jorg said, the purchase was entirely driven by emotion.
Why did Tudor not put the B01 in the Heritage Chrono?
Compare that to the Tudor, and I have no emotion towards it. The Black Bay Chrono S&G does not necessarily need a lineage to be a good watch. But I still cannot help but feel that Tudor put the B01 into the wrong watch. The twin-register chronograph layout and date at 6 o’clock was begging to be used in the Heritage Chrono. For either the Monte Carlo or Home Plate editions, the B01 would have elevated the seemingly forgotten range. Seriously, why are Tudor burying us with Black Bay after Black Bay, and not spreading the love to other ranges?
Jorg: The B01 movement was introduced in 2009 and how long has it taken Breitling to update their collections with the B01 movement? If they are done yet?
Ben: If we have to argue the price on paper, then to your point, the stakes are in favor of the Tudor Black Bay Chrono S&G. But we do not print the watches on paper and wear them on our wrists. How a watch feels with the metal contacting the skin can quite quickly eschew the sticker price.
Jorg: Somehow I get the feeling you forgot about the deep-rooted emotions I expressed to you about both the Chronomat and the Black Bay Chrono S&G.
Ben: The Breitling ultimately feels cooler, more original and historic when strapping on the wrist. And Breitling may farm the movement out to Tudor, but home is where the heart is. No more is this movement at home than within the Chronomat where it began.
In the end, this week’s showdown has become quite an emotional affair for both of us. So I think it’s best that we let our readers decide which watch featuring the Breitling B01 movement is the better option. Would you rather spend your money on a Breitling Chronomat or on the Tudor Black Bay Chrono S&G? Let us know your answer by voting for your favorite watch below. And feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!