Evaluation of Breitling (Wings)
Posted by John Raba on March 15, 1998 at 5:40:28:
Well, I purchased a ss/18k gold Breitling (Wings). I thought I would provide my review of this watch.
The overall appearance of the watch is one solid mass. This is not a flimsy or small watch. It weighs in at approximately 63 grams. It is not at all uncomfortable on the wrist. When you buy these watches the watch band is sold and priced separately. You can get them with steel or leather bands. I opted for black leather. The case back has a recessed Breitling logo (with the wings and the Breitling name as well as 1884) stamped on it. Around this circular stamping is “Manufacture En Suisse Automatic Etanche 100 M (and then two serial numbers). The case back is screw down and is very solid. It actually looks like a bulkhead from a ship. It is not flat but curves outward. The watch is water resistant to 100M . The finish of the case is a highly polished stainless steel. I don’t know the actual dimensions of the watch but gauging by another watch I have it does not appear to be as large as 40mm in diameter. It is, however easily as thick as my Hamilton Chrono.
The bezel can only be moved counter clockwise and is accented at 12, 3, 6 and 9 with 18k gold markers. In between these raised gold markers are etched into the top of the bezel markers for each minute. The bezel is tight but not overly so. Around the outside of the bezel at each hour are screw heads (not flat) in 18k gold. These appear functional and not just cosmetic. The crown is likewise in 18k. and is somewhat shrouded by the case for protection. It is screw down.
The dial is my favorite part of the watch. I am not a good enough a writer to describe the texture and look of the dial well enough. I will touch on the highlights only. The dial appears deeply recessed into the watch. It is non reflective. In its center is a pattern that looks like a tightly woven spider web that is etched into the dial itself. It starts in the very center and extends out in a circular pattern stopping just short of where the hour markers begin. This leaves the exterior of the dial smooth. Here the hour markers are placed accordingly. (Sorry, that is as good as I can describe it) The dial is silver but has a creamy look to it. Inside the dial apparently are the indicators for a compass. At the 12 is “N” for north and so on. Just inside of this (the flat part of the dial itself) are number at 12, 6 and 9. Also present are the degrees (1- 360) one would also find on a compass. The date window is at 3. It is ample in size and easy to read. The hour numbers are gold as are the hour markers (1,2,4,5,7,8,10, and 11). The dial has the Breitling logo, “Breitling” and 1884 just under the 12 and “wings” just above the 6. All in all a very impressive package. The watch face is busy enough to keep you interested but not too much so. The dial, case back (but not crown), strap (and buckle) and movement (on the rotor) are all signed.
It is flush with the bezel and is out of the way and seamless so as to not get scratched up easily. It is scratch proof and coated for anti glare on both sides. I am not certain as to its composition. The anti glare really works.
When you buy a Breitling you must buy the watch band as extra. They apparently have many different kinds and colors. You can have either leather or stainless steel in my model. I chose black leather. What can I say. The band cost $100. It is thick, substantial and signed. Toward the lugs it actually has on the strap the width of the lugs (18). It was comfortable right away. I have not been one to like metal bands. If you have a big wrist you may have a problem finding a band that will fit well. It would be a bit like having your feet extend off the bed for very tall people. This was nearly the case with me and I don’t have an exceptionally big wrist.
So as to not void any warranties suffice it to say that I know the watch has an eta 2892, 21 jeweled automatic movement. The balance wheel is smaller than what is used in the 2824 by eta. It looks overall very different from that movement. It was my impression they were relatives. Any family similarity is not readily apparent. The balance wheel is gold colored. I don’t know what it is made of or what they do to the balance spring or gear train that may be different from other watches with 2892 or the standard movement. Some of the screws are ruby colored and they dressed up the visible part of the movement.. Just inside the case is a metal ring of some kind. I am not sure if this is used to secure the movement or is anti magnetic. Timing adjustments are made by turning a screw either to the negative or positive. This is easily done after you hack stop the movement. In all it looks as if they significantly modified this movement from the standard 2892 you get from eta. Exactly what modifications were made is unknown to me. I have no doubts this movement will operate within accuracy specifications well beyond my time.
Out of the box I was not impressed. It gained about 10-12 seconds per day. After two simple adjustments it is now consistently 2 seconds a day fast. Further tinkering would easily improve on this but is not necessary. In addition, it does not appear to be easily susceptible to positional changes. Likewise, whether I have it on or not does not seem to significantly matter. I am not sure why. So far I have only had it in the dial up position when not wearing it. I am an accuracy nut so I am very well pleased.
Retail was about $1,900 or so. I picked it up for $1500 (including tax) from a retail store where I live. They are apparently attempting to be competitive to prices on the internet. It is perhaps a little more than that. I, however, was happy to pay the difference since I had never held one of these babies before. I suppose I will now look forward to getting some chocolate or a hat or something.
In terms of quality I am very impressed and pleased with this Breitling. It is as solid and durable looking as any Rolex. Nothing on this watch looks cheap or anything but top tier. The fit and finish is fantastic. I am not personally bothered by the fact that the movement is eta. I only care about its durability and accuracy. These two issues have apparently been taken care of by Breitling in house. At $1,500 I don’t think that is an issue anyway. I did not buy this watch because of resale value. In point of fact I don’t care. I bought it because it met my needs. I was looking for a non chronograph automatic sports watch (that is almost an oxymoron when dealing with mechanical watches) with a leather band and a bit of pizzazz. For those looking for a “classic” sport watch you will be better suited buying an IWC Mark XII or a stainless steel Rolex explorer perhaps. If I had one complaint, however, it would be the otherwise total lack of information Breitling gives you when you buy a watch. Most of what I learned was by visual inspection or through the net. Secondly, I would also think Breitling could easily make this watch it a bit thinner. That would improve the watch. It is a sturdy handsome watch nonetheless. Not perfect. But certainly more than satisfactory given the walk out price.