Breitling Chronoworks Performance lab

The automobile world has its engine-tuners, responsible for adjusting motors so as to achieve superior performance. With the Breitling Chronoworks department, the watch industry now also has its exceptional engine experts, in charge of developing and testing technical breakthroughs that can subsequently be introduced on series-produced models. Turning their attention to the Manufacture Breitling Caliber 01, the Chronoworks specialists have already incorporated five major innovations serving to increase its power reserve from 70 to 100 hours. The fruit of its efforts is showcased in a Superocean Héritage Chronoworks limited series, featuring a standout look and equally outstanding accomplishments. 

Breitling is a chronograph specialist that has already played a crucial role in the technical development of this type of instrument, thanks to inventions such as the first independent pushpiece at 2 o'clock (1915), the second independent pushpiece (1934) and the self-winding chronograph (1969). The firm is one of the rare watch companies to own its own mechanical chronograph movements, entirely developed and produced in the ultramodern Breitling Chronométrie complex in La Chaux-de-Fonds. To develop these Manufacture calibers, Breitling has gathered under its roof the finest engineers and watch movement constructors. The result is a range of smart, high-performance 'engines' equipped with useful and user-friendly functions, all chronometer certified by the COSC (Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute), the ultimate token of reliability and precision.  

The test bench for tomorrow's technologies
Performance is an outright obsession for Breitling. As the privileged partner of aviation, a field where security and reliability are of vital importance, the firm constantly strives to improve the quality of its movements. It is in this spirit that the Chronoworks department was created, driven by a determination to keep moving ahead and pushing boundaries in the service of professionals. Regrouping the finest specialists working in one of the best-equipped labs in the entire watch industry, this cutting-edge unit is dedicated to seeking out innovative solutions that will serve to enhance movement performance and to testing avant-garde concepts suitable for introduction into standard production. A think tank and a test bench for tomorrow's technologies - very much like the kind of innovations tested in Formula 1 and subsequently incorporated into series-made cars. 

A reworked Breitling Caliber 01
Passionately devoted to their mission, the Chronoworks experts entirely reviewed the brand's star 'engine', Manufacture Breitling Caliber 01, a selfwinding chronograph movement featuring a modern structure, column-wheel construction, a vertical coupling-clutch and an over 70-hour power reserve. The aim was to increase its efficiency wherever possible. The engineers and watchmakers re-examined all the movement organs, seeking to pinpoint the slightest loss of energy, the tiniest pointless friction, the smallest "excess" weight increasing inertia. They went on to develop five technical advancements (relating to the choice of materials, the geometry of the parts, etc.) serving to reduce friction as well as dynamic efforts at all stages: all with a view to achieving enhanced "energy efficiency".  

Ceramic baseplate and gear-train bridges
The first optimization involved the movement chassis (baseplate and gear-train bridges). To reduce friction due to the pivoting of the arbors, these components were made from a high-tech ceramic (hexagonal boron nitride) already used as a solid adjuvant in high-performance engine lubricants, but applied here for the first time to mechanical horology. Thanks to an extremely low friction coefficient, the arbors can pivot directly in the baseplate and bridge holes without any wear or energy loss - and also without any lubricant, thereby eliminating 11 out of 47 jewels.  

Silicon wheels
Contrary to what one might think, a watch movement is actually at a halt 95% of the time and each "restart" results in a certain loss of energy. To counteract this inertia, the caliber has been fitted with three wheels (center wheel, third wheel, fourth wheel) in silicon, a material twice as light as normal and that thus makes it easier to set in motion again. As for the geometry of these wheels, made using deep-reactive iron etching (DRIE), it has been revised to make the structure more rigid and to thus avoid any distortion of the spokes. 

Silicon escapement
Attention also focused on the "distribution" organ, the escapement - the part of the movement where most of the energy losses take place. The Swiss lever escapement was maintained, but with a wheel and lever made of silicon serving to reduce weight and thus inertia, as well as eliminating the need for pallet jewels - thereby enhancing precision in terms of shapes. To ensure more efficient transmission of the energy from the barrel, the geometry of the two components was revisited (the profile of the teeth and pallets). The banking free angular limitation of the lever also contributes to increasing reliability. The overall result is a 42% gain in efficiency for this vital organ, thereby ensuring optimal security, an essential aspect of performance.

Variable-inertia balance
Balance-wheel oscillations are generally adjusted by modifying the active length of the balance-spring using pins, an operation that can disturb chronometry (precision timekeeping). The Chronoworks specialists have opted for a variable-inertia balance adjustable via four tiny gold weights situated around the rim. To free this organ from temperature sensitivities and maintain the same rating precision in every circumstances, they have chosen to combine a nickel felly (ring) with a cross (spoke) made of brass, using the metal's expansion/contraction to modify the inertia. When the temperature rises, the cross expands and "pulls" the felly towards the center, thus reducing inertia. This system reinterprets the principle of bimetallic balance-wheels by leveraging state-of-the-art production technologies (LIGA). 

Elastic toothing
Another key nerve center in a vertical coupling-clutch chronograph mechanism is this tiny organ responsible for connecting the base movement and the wheel bearing the sweep-seconds hand (chronograph wheel and pinion). This set of one arbor and two wheels (2 mm in diameter) generally displays a certain play that can lead to jerking, that is eliminated by using a "friction spring" - that causes a 15% energy loss. Rather than compensating for this play by braking, the Chronoworks specialists opted to equip the two wheels with elastic toothing molding the shape of the opposite teeth, by means of a nickel phosphorous structure. The result is an end to energy losses, as well as identical autonomy whether or not the chronograph function is activated.  

A 100-hour power reserve
By reducing the friction and the inertia of mobile components, while ensuring optimal running of the base movement and the chronograph, these five measures jointly led to a significant increase in the energy efficiency of Breitling Caliber 01. This made it possible to equip it with a slimmer - and thus longer - spring, in turn increasing the power reserve from 70 to 100 hours: a 45% gain. This progress not only provides greater convenience for the user, who can leave his watch off the wrist for four days without then needing to rewind it; it also contributes to improving precision. The higher the power reserve, the less the force of the spring dwindles during the first 24 hours, thereby guaranteeing enhanced regularity of the movement rate. This technical breakthrough, entirely in tune with the spirit of "instruments for professionals", confirms more forcefully than ever the status of Breitling Caliber 01 as the ultimate reference in terms of performance and functionality.  

A highly exclusive limited series
To enable connoisseurs and those with a taste for exclusive privileges to enjoy the benefits of these technical advancements from Chronoworks, some of which will later be available on standard models, Breitling is launching a 100-piece limited edition. The firm has chosen for this purpose one of its stellar models, the Superocean Héritage, interpreted in an all-black version with a brand-new matt ceramic case ensuring an original, powerful and contemporary look. The dial is adorned with pointed hour-markers recalling the 1957 Superocean, created for diving enthusiasts and thrill-seekers. A transparent caseback provides a chance to admire the Chronoworks movement with its revisited mechanism and its black oscillating weight. In another exclusive touch, the watch is equipped with a woven rubber strap inspired by the original woven steel bracelet. Thanks to the Chronoworks department and its technical advancements united for the first time in the Superocean Héritage Chronoworks model, Breitling is once again asserting itself as an exceptional "engine expert". The master of performance.  


  • Manufacture Breitling Caliber 01 Chronoworks.
  • Officially chronometer-certified by the COSC.
  • Selfwinding.
  • High-frequency (28,800 vibrations per hour).
  • 36 jewels.
  • 100-hour power reserve.
  • 1/4th of a second chronograph.
  • 30minute and 12-hour totalizers.
  • Calendar.


  • Black ceramic (100-piece limited series).
  • Water-resistant to 100 m/330 ft.
  • Screw-locked crown.
  • Unidirectional ratcheted rotating bezel.
  • Cambered sapphire crystal.
  • Glareproofed on both sides.
  • Transparent sapphire caseback.


  • 46 mm.


  • Volcano black.


  • Rubber Aero Classic.  



Autoshows Calendar

Upcoming Articles

  • Global Drive: 2018 Rolls Royce Phantom
  • Global Drive: 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk
  • Global Drive: 2018 Jaguar XJR575
  • Editors' Choice: Range Rover Velar
  • Editors' Choice: Lexus LC500h
  • Editors' Choice: Peugeot 3008
  • Editors' Choice: Cadillac CT6
  • Special Feature: Renault Zoe Electric