Breitling Transocean Unitime Review – AB0510
Transocean Chronograph Unitime
Given their irrelevant nature, due to being incredibly cost ineffective, high end watches should be viewed as something so much more than telling the time. They should resonate within the soul of the wearer and stimulate positive emotions. Much like a chosen companion.
Breitling’s new Transocean Chronograph Unitime is such a timepiece. It offers all the usual attributes of a loved one.
They are, at first, beautiful to look at (subjective, of course), causing lustful behaviour. They then become tactile (steady now). Following on from these initial feelings they should become easy to live with, loyal, flexible, useful and reliable. Not so much “through sickness and health” but more so through relaxation and work. Myriad scenarios and situations will arise in day-to-day life and the better companions will remain dependable regardless.
The Breitling Transocean Chronograph Unitime proffers beautiful aesthetics and easy-to-use, real-world functionality in a robust, yet elegant, water tight case. This makes the Unitime a true all-rounder that could leave the wearer needing no other timepiece. Think of a scenario and the Unitime will suit. This really could be your “only watch”. Fortunately, you do not marry your watch, which is ideal for a “perpetual flipper” like me. It’s more like a 7 month itch that I suffer from with regard to watches. However, if there were such a thing as “death do us part” in horology circles then the Transocean Chronograph Unitime would result in a dramatic reduction in timepiece divorces.
With this in mind I do think it is a little remiss of Breitling to not advertise the Unitime with a rubber strap. This would truly make it the utilitarian sports watch some may demand of it. It’s very easy to switch from Crocodile to Air Racer Mesh to Diver Pro II rubber. Although not a catalogue option I would recommend asking for it on rubber if, like me, you think it looks superb and adds even more real world usability.
The Unitime is not a new name in the Breitling catalogue. The original has a striking resemblance to the new model and was first introduced around about 1950. The obvious difference is the inclusion of the chronograph on the new model. The new version has been stretched by 20% in girth from 37mm to 46mm.
So called GMT timepieces are commonplace nowadays. They allow a different timezone from your home time to be presented by a secondary hour hand which circumnavigates the dial every 24 hours. There are other alternatives whereby an aperture in the dial, very much like a date indicator, highlights another hour. There are two versions of the GMT hand interface watches. The first and most common allows the GMT hand to be adjusted incrementally without interrupting the time keeping. Therefore, to indicate the correct time in a new time zone on the normal hour hand the time keeping has to be interrupted. The second version allows the normal hour hand to be moved incrementally without interrupting the time. In this instance the GMT hand will not move. These are also referred to as Home Time watches. The former is the most common but is the least useful to the traveller in my opinion as it requires the watch to be stopped to reset the normal time to the time zone to which you have just arrived at. There seems little point in having a Chronometer rated movement in these instances.
There is, finally, a third method of presenting the time in different timezones for the traveller, or for someone who simply needs to know what time it is in other countries. These are called World Timers. The Transocean Chronograph Unitime lies under this fairly exclusive banner. An even more exclusive club is the in-house chronograph World Timer.
As can be seen below, 24 cities are highlighted at the periphery of the dial. Each one represents a major timezone across the globe.
Most World Timers rely on a button, or buttons, to be pressed on the side of the watch case to increment or decrement the hour to represent another timezone. This can make the case look aesthetically congested, especially if a chronograph is also included. True to Breitling’s spirit of innovation they have designed a patented system that allows the timezones to be selected, either backwards or forwards, through the crown. This really is an elegant solution which is a pleasure to use. Neither the normal time, nor chronograph time recording, are impeded during this action.
When the crown is pulled out to the first position the timezone can be altered to one of the pre-designated cities that represent the 24 major timezones across the globe. The hour hand move in unison allowing the correct time to be displayed for the city (timezone) highlighted at the top of the dial. I am slightly perplexed why Breitling would choose to use Paris as the representing city for Central European Time. Surely Geneva would have been more appropriate for a Swiss watch company.
The date is also automatically changed backwards or forwards to correctly represent the chosen timezone.
Incidentally, the cities are available in several different languages.
Breitling are famous for their chronographs and their pilots watches. For me, these two company philosophies are perfectly represented in synchronicity within the Unitime. The timezone can be changed with consummate ease without, firstly, interrupting the accuracy of the chronometer rated movement and, secondly, interrupting any important timing from the chronograph. For example, the progress of a flight.
To portray the Unitime as a World Timer Breitling have decorated the dial with a wonderful blue and silver depiction of the globe. This shows an aerial view of Canada, Greenland, North America, Mexico and South America. This is understandable given the main markets for a watch of this size and the fact that, even though only four countries are highlighted there are 8 different timezones from Honolulu to Greenland (represented by South Georgia on the dial).
The Unitime is also available in a silver dial version. It is also beautiful to behold but I prefer the black version. It reminds me of one of the most famous photographs in history: The Earth taken within the complete blackness of space during the Apollo 11 mission whilst they were on the Moon.
Silver dialled version
The case is highly polished. Apologies for the dull protective tape on the case of this example but it is shop stock which I have been generously leant for this review. There is also a subtle step detail where the case side transitions to the lugs. The pushers are perfunctory and it perfect keeping with the utilitarian nature of the Unitime.
I really appreciate the lack of script on the dial. There is a gold B logo and “Breitling 1884” in the classic font. This is perfectly adequate for a dial that is already carrying so much information. Those in the know already appreciate that this is a World Timer Chronograph with a Chronometre rated movement and 100m water resistance. We don’t really need this perpetuating.
The luminosity is applied to allow the reading of the time only. The superluminova applied gives a very strong glow from very little charge and lasts throughout the night.
Despite, it 46mm diameter the ergonomics have clearly been well thought out and the Unitime was surpringly comfortable on my smaller than average 6.5” wrists. This is equally true when utilising the wonderful Air Classic mesh bracelet, the rubber strap or the high end crocodile strap.
The Breitling Transocean Chronograph Unitime is robust and sporty and yet classy and dressy. It is a little oversized for the latter but I still think you get away with it with evening wear. You could most definitely combine the Unitime with beach wear. You will already have the perfect time no matter which beach you are on in the world. You need not worry about water ingress, due to the 100m water resistance, and you could time how long you have been out in the sun, on the chronograph, so as to prevent sun burn. There’s no point in having the classiest watch in the establishment if you’re walking to the night club later that day like a duck with haemorrhoids.
The Unitime would also be the ideal partner with a work suit. There are many, many reasons (excuses) to use the chronograph within the workplace. Plus, with a quick spin of the crown, you could make sure that you’re not about to wake your important client from across the seas when you need to Skype them.
The Transocean Unitime is by no means perfect. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it: Why do Breitling not offer sapphire glass exhibition casebacks on their timepieces with in-house movement? Especially those with less than 300m water resistance. The use of the classic logo and transocean script are not lost on me but I’ve seen images of the B05 movement and it is as gorgeous to look at as it is impressively specified and produced.
The date can only be changed by winding the hours round the dial, which can get a little tedious. However, you’ll only have to do this once because you’ll never want to leave the Unitime off your wrist any longer than the 72 hour power reserve.
The Transocean line of watches is a re-interpretation of a very dressy, very classy styled 1960s timepiece. In this regard the 46mm diameter does take some comprehending. I might be a bit bitter because I have small wrists but I still think 43-44mm would have been more suitable. Hopefully, Breitling will copy their current protocols with this watch in creating a reduced diameter version in the near future.
The price may, at first, seem to be high. However, this is only because stainless steel catalogue Breitlings are not normally this expensive, with the Bentleys being an exception. I do feel, however, that the Transocean Chronograph Unitime is great value for money. I challenge you to find another chronograph, world time watch with an in house movement featuring such useful, innovative, easy to use and clever complications for less than £8000.
I love the Transocean Unitime Chronograph and I think it is THE Breitling to own…….wherever you are and whatever you’re doing. Any time, any place. 2gether 4ever. I do.