2017年5月

In launching the Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante Replica (the French term adopted by the industry for split-seconds chronographs, derived from rattraper, meaning “to catch up”, as one seconds hand catches up with the other), Breitling has joined a very elite club.

So few brands currently have a split-seconds in their collections (the likes of IWC, Zenith and Glashutte Original have all made them in recent years, but they’re not available any more). Mostly, they are the preserve of haute de gamme replica watchmakers: Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin and A. Lange & Sohne all currently offer at least one rattrapante reference, often combined with other complications.
Breitling-Navitimer-Rattrapante-in-steel.jpg
Blancpain offers a split-seconds flyback (the L-Evolution R Chronograph, which is also a flyback) and Panerai sells the Luminor 1950 Rattrapante 8 Days. If you’re very lucky you might get your hands on a Habring Doppelchrono (Richard Habring developed the movement for IWC) , but that’s about it. And with the exception of the Habring, which is produced in tiny numbers, none of them can match the Breitling for price: £9,910 in steel.
Breitling-Navitimer-Rattrapante-steel-dial.jpg
It is a welcome addition for a brand so historically associated with pilot’s chronographs, and doubly so because we have seen relatively little of note under the Breitling Navitimer Replica banner in recent years save for limited editions, dial changes and size changes. Based on Breitling’s in-house B01 calibre, the movement (B03) houses two patent-pending innovations that Breitling claims have a considerable effect on the reliability of the split-seconds mechanism.

To quickly re-cap on what a split-seconds can do, and why it’s no piece of cake to create: the chronograph is equipped with two seconds hands. Start it running as usual and both set off together; upon a press of the split seconds pusher at 3 o’clock, however, one will stop, marking an elapsed time (say, a lap), while one continues timing the total running time. Press the same pusher again (once you’ve recorded this lap measurement, for instance), and the split-seconds hand instantly catches up to the first one, ready to repeat the whole procedure all over again.

It’s an accomplished mechanism that needs to be able to handle more energy going through it (and more often) than a typical chronograph, and involves finer tolerances too. In complexity, it’s only beaten by some pretty rare beasts – A. Lange & Sohne’s double-split, for instance, or Audemars Piguet’s sensational Laptimer.

Breitling has fitted the B03 with an isolating mechanism for the split-seconds hand, aimed at reducing the effect of operating the chronograph on the power reserve and reliability of the replica watch. Furthermore, it has replaced key components within the isolator to effectively neutralise such detrimental effects on the running of the replica watch.

Cars and replica watches have a lot in common, so it is little wonder that tie-ins between the two worlds are so popular.Cheap Replica Watches watchmakers and automakers have collaborated for quite a while now. Rolex is active in Formula 1, Chopard has its connections with the famous Mille Miglia, and the partnership between Hublot and Ferrari is now into its sixth year with no signs of slowing down - to name a few. The union that we are interested in today is between Bulgari and Maserati, and the replica watch in question is the very sublime Bulgari Octo Maserati Chronograph. As far as automotive-themed replica watches go, it is easily one of the better-executed and more considered ones. Let’s have a closer look at it now.

Bulgari-Octo-Maserati-Chronograph-aBlogtoWatch-04.jpg
Before we dive into the Bulgari Octo Maserati Chronograph Replica, it is important to know the replica watch on which it is based, and that’s the Octo Velocissimo Chronograph (reviewed here). Bulgari’s (and original designer of the Octo replica watch Gerald Genta's) obsession with the octagon should be widely known by now, and its Octo collection has grown over the past couple of years to include numerous ground-breaking and record-breaking models such as the Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater (hands-on) and Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Skeleton (hands-on).
Bulgari-Octo-Maserati-Chronograph-aBlogtoWatch-02.jpg

The Octo collection, and by extension, the Octo Velocissimo Chronograph have a wonderfully angular case design. It is a play on the octagon and it is really an impressively complex case, featuring numerous surfaces with different treatments. According to Bulgari, the Octo case features over 100 surfaces, making it far more intricate than your typical high-end luxury Swiss replica watch case.

Bulgari-Octo-Maserati-Chronograph-aBlogtoWatch-03.jpg
Velocissimo is Italian for “fast,” and it gets its name from the movement within. It is powered by the BVL 328, which is based on Zenith’s fast-beating El Primero chronograph movement. The El Primero, if you recall, beats at a heady 5Hz, or 10 beats per second. But despite the complex Octo case and exotic 5Hz movement within, the Bulgari Octo Velocissimo Chronograph has always felt a little cold and sterile to me. The case is available in numerous materials, but the dial is only available in black, or in the case of the rose gold model, chocolate brown. I would describe the Bulgari Octo Velocissimo Chronograph as elegant, but certainly not exciting, at least not as exciting as it could have been with some tweaks. The Bulgari Octo Maserati Chronograph replica watch changes that.

Launched in 2014, the Bulgari Octo Maserati Chronograph is a special limited-edition piece designed to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Maserati. Like the Octo Velocissimo Chronograph on which it is based, the Bulgari Octo Maserati Chronograph comes in a 41mm-wide case. The case material is stainless steel. It retains the intricate and complex design of Bulgari’s Octo cases, but the bezel in this model features a tachymeter scale, which is appropriate for a replica watch with automotive connections. It also makes me wonder why the non-limited edition Octo Velocissimo Chronograph replica watches do not have tachymeter scales on their bezels. I get it that tachymeter scales are mostly decorative these days and that very few people actually make use of them, but it just makes the replica watch look more “right.”

The Richard Mille RM032 Replcia has two particularly unusual features among Richard Mille’s collections. First, it’s round, a notable exception for the brand, which generally favours the tonneau shape. And second: it’s a dive replica watch. It is one of a trio, the other members of which are the breathtakingly complex – and expensive – RM025 tourbillon chronograph, and the simpler RM028. The RM032, a perfect synthesis of the company’s technical expertise, comes somewhere between the two. Diving replica watches are by their nature highly technical, as they have to fulfil a number of functional criteria, and Richard Mille Men's Replica treats them as a rigorous technical exercise.
richard-mille-rm032-or-rose.jpg
The case must be waterproof – a 300-metre depth rating is usual. The case of the RM032, in titanium, black DLC-treated titanium or gold (pink or white gold – but these aren’t strictly dive replica watches) measures 50 mm across for a depth of 17.8 mm. The RM032 is truly a beast. There’s no risk of it being crushed by water pressure, but it could have been prone to other problems. The size of the replica watch might have given it a tendency to slip on the wrist, making it vulnerable to catching on unexpected outcrops of rock, coral reefs or shipwrecks. But the shape of the lugs and the curved caseback ensure a snug fit on wrists of all sizes, like a limpet on its rock.
richard-mille-rm032-titane.jpg

Water resistance is generally a major issue in the vicinity of the crown, a natural opening into the replica watch that has to be secured. The risk is multiplied by three in the case of a diving chronograph with two pushers, like the RM032. Richard Mille has therefore added some special safety features. Rather than the usual four or five firm turns of the crown, the RM032 can be hermetically sealed by performing a half-turn of an additional ring at the base of the crown. An engraved red or green indicator shows what position the crown is in – red means the crown has been deactivated and the pushers immobilised.
richard-mille-rm032-couronne.jpg

The bezel of a dive replica watch should be capable of rotating in just one direction, and it must be lockable. Richard Mille decided to take the logic somewhat further than the traditional ratchet. You have to depress the pusher at 12 o’clock with one finger and the 6 o’clock pusher with another finger and squeeze hard to make it turn. If you want to change your diving time you need to be both dextrous and determined. The bezel has engraved markers every five minutes, with the last fifteen minutes in red. It is angled inwards, which protects the surface as well as directing all attention to the replica watch face.

Luminescence isn’t usually a standout feature of Richard Mille replica watches, which are designed to shine in the daytime, not at night, but the RM032 has Superluminova on the index dots and hands, an important requirement for divers venturing into murky waters, or diving in the dark.

So much for the diving specs. In every other respect, the RM032 is a Richard Mille, which means it goes well beyond the usual norms and traditions. It’s not just a simple three-hand replica watch with date, like 99% of divers; it also has a flyback chronograph. The big chronograph seconds hand with its yellow tip skims the minute track around the outside of the dial, and there is also an annual calendar with big date. If you don’t want to keep the chronograph running, there is a “running indicator” comprising a white disc that creates a six-spoked black-and-white animation as it rotates, to show that the replica watch is running correctly. In fact, it’s one of the most readable elements on this replica watch. With its cutout dial, multiple hands, skeletonised components, visible screws and inscriptions, this Richard Mille demands as much attention as it no doubt attracts.