Breitling has unveiled an in-house split-seconds chronograph movement, which will debut in the new Navitimer Rattrapante at Baselworld 2017. Fittingly, Breitling has chosen the Navitimer, its most emblematic model, to introduce this new movement, Breitling Caliber B03.

The new Navitimer Rattrapante is available in two references, in steel or gold with a case measuring 45mm and featuring an exclusive bronze-colored dial. The three white chrongraph sub-dials create a strong contrast with the bronze dial which features the Navitimer’s characteristically busy layout.

The Navitimer Rattrapante in steel.

To emphasize the split-seconds complication, Breitling has used a clever little design detail on the two split-seconds chronograph hands. On a regular chronograph model, Breitling uses its B logo with the anchor symbol as a counterweight on the chronograph hand.

In the rattrapante model, the B logo is now divided between the two seconds hands: the B on the red chronograph hand and the anchor on the split-seconds hand. This means the two elements are separated when the split-seconds hand is stopped, before reforming the brand signature when the hands are again overlaid.

The gold version is a limited edition.

The split-seconds pusher, housed in the 3 o’clock crown, serves to stop and restart the split-seconds function. For the uninitiated, a rattrapante or split-seconds chronograph has two two superimposed central chronograph hands, of which one can be stopped to measure an intermediate (split) time, before “catching up” (rattraper in French) with the first one that is still in motion.

It’s a complicated movement to create and requires watchmakers to perform a lengthy process of adjustment and rating (correcting the clearance of the split-seconds wheel and pinion, adapting the tension of the springs, adjusting the degree of penetration of the clamps, etc.).

An interesting new innovation in the Caliber B03 is the presence of an isolating system serving to disconnect the split-seconds hand when it is stopped. The constant stopping and starting of the rattrapante hands is traditionally a drain on the power reserve of the watch, something that most developers of these movements struggle with.

Caliber B03 was developed by Breitling.

Breitling’s engineers have developed two innovations that are pending patents in the creation of this movement. The first breakthrough relates to the aforementioned isolating system. The component driving the split-seconds lever normally takes the form of a cylindrical pin: an organ that is complex to produce below a certain diameter.

Breitling has replaced this pin by a stamped part enabling it to achieve a more precisely defined shape, as well as enhanced sturdiness. Thanks to this isolating system, the use of the split-seconds hand has no impact on the precision of the timing, nor on the power reserve.

The second innovation concerns the mechanism for stopping the split-seconds hand. Watchmakers traditionally use a wheel (either smooth or with extremely fine toothing) that is clamped in place. This system is complicated to produce and can lead to a certain degree of inaccuracy.

Inspired by cycle brakes equipped with rubber pads, Breitling’s engineers had the idea of surrounding the wheel with an O-ring seal that would be compressed by the clamp. This results in extremely precise stopping and a system that is simpler to produce and thus more reliable.

Caliber B03 has a 70-hour power reserve (guaranteeing enhanced rating regularity) as well as a modular-type architecture. The split-seconds mechanism comprises just 28 parts. Like all Breitling movements, this is a COSC-certified movement. The Breitling Rattrapante is priced at $11,090 in a steel case, and at $32,895 in gold.