Breitling B-1

After six years with my Seiko Orange Monster, the time was finally right to get into Swiss watch ownership. The Breitling Emergency was still the watch I coveted the most, my “grail watch” if you will, but it was still beyond my budget. My original plan was to get a Breitling Aerospace but after trying one on in a dealers in London, was less than impressed by it’s slimness and dainty weight. So the dealer bought out a B-1 and I was smitten.

Breitling B-1, blue rubber strap


I got this watch as a gift to myself upon gaining captaincy on the Cessna C208 Caravan that I’d been flying as a copilot for the previous year. The timing just seemed right although it did take me a few days to build up the courage to spend such a large amount of money on a watch (10 times what the Seiko had cost me). However, I don’t regret it for a moment!


The case is made from solid stainless steel and polished to a very high shine. This, combined with the metallic blue face, really gives the watch an expensive look and feel. The dial is a masterpiece of design, blending so many different elements together but yet still being incredibly easy to read the time from at a quick glance. I love the weight of this watch which was what put me off the Aerospace due to it’s lack of it.

The crystal, like all modern Breitlings, has an anti-reflective coating on both sides making is neigh on impossible to see in most lights. This is especially useful in a bright cockpit with sunlight and reflections streaking all over the place.

Breitling B-1 turbine case-back

Perhaps one of the most striking elements of the B-1’s construction is the case-back. It’s made up of 20 individual blades of stainless steel, each anchored in the centre and the outside ring, shaped into a miniature turbine. And it’s not just a cosmetic feature either, as behind the turbine blades is a hollow echo chamber designed to amplify the watch’s alarm. It’s also very comfortable to wear; you don’t feel that turbine at all.

The 50m water resistance was a slight concern and even the dealers who sold me the watch were a little concerned when I mentioned where I live and work. However, I contacted Breitling in Switzerland to enquire and they assured me the provided the seals were serviced during battery changes, there’d be no problems. Happily, after two years out here, the watch is indeed fine having been drowned a few times in tropical downpours to no ill effect.

Breitling B-1 perfectly in sync with a Garmin G1000 GPS system


Unlike the Aerospace and Emergency, the B-1 has two additional push buttons which allow for a much easier to use interface to access the watch’s many features. Like all ani-digi Breitlings, you rotate the crown to scroll between the features which include (in order):

  • Time with blank LCDs
  • Time with lower LCD replicating the analogue hands
  • Alarm 1 setting page
  • Time with the current day displayed on top LCD and DD/MM/YY on lower screen (customisable language and order of day, month and year)
  • Chronograph (stopwatch)
  • Countdown timer
  • Time with a second timezone on lower LCD
  • Alarm 2 setting page
  • Time with UTC on lower LCD
  • Features screen to set alarm/button push tones
Breitling B-1 lume and backlight

In addition to all these features you can push the button on the end of the crown to turn on the back light for the LCD screens which, in-case you were wondering, are fully night-vision goggle compliant. There’s also the E6B flight computer which is accessed by rotating the bezel in either direction. However, I’ve not used one of these since my commercial pilot exams and frankly if you need to start using one of these in the cockpit, something has gone a bit wrong!

Breitling B-1 on blue leather strap in box

Final word

I love this watch. I was planning to sell it after I got the Emergency, especially as it has taken a bit of a back seat and I never wear it flying any more. But with the blue leather strap it has now become my dress/evening watch. The SuperQuartz movement keeps prefect time which is ideal as it never needs setting when I grab it from the box for an evening out. It oozes quality and continually gets admiring comments when out and about. Will I ever sell it? Doubtful!

Breitling B-1 wrist shot
Matt Dearden

Matt Dearden

English born professional pilot, writer, blogger and columnist. Currently flying the Pilatus PC-6 Turbo Porter in Papua, Indonesia.

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5 Responses

  1. And there I was thinking I might get the “old” one!

  2. Jon Grace says:

    Cracking watch mate. I love Breitlings far and above any other watch. I own an Emergency myself with the same blue face you have on your B1. I just wish the Emergency had the same backlight as the B1, but thet being said, you can’t take anything away from it. As a watch it is amazing, and as a pilots instrument, you won’t find much better.

    • Matt Dearden Matt Dearden says:

      Totally agree with you there Jon. If they could have just added in that back-lighting, the Emergency would have been the perfect watch. I still totally love it though and love the Breitling brand above all others.

  3. Jeff Rosolio says:

    I have a blue B-1 myself and absolutely love the technology, fit, finish and feel of it on my wrist. While few people see the back of the watch, I truly enjoy the unique turbine design every time I take it on and off. The size and weight of the watch is perfect. Some newer Breitlings make me think they are more intent on designing manhole covers than watches. Once you get past 44mm you’ve lost me. Now that the B-1 is out of production, it’s uniqueness makes it that much more appealing to me and watch aficionados who spy it on my wrist. I have sold off a few of my Breitlings, but this one…Never! You do have me considering a blue leather band now, just for a switch up.

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