The Breitling Colt: The Unassuming Sports Watch

By Paul Hornblow, Owner of Watches of Wales









It’s easy to get entrenched in the world of luxury watches and believe that the only ones you should buy must either have a crown, a Greek letter or a name that starts with P and ends with atek Philippe. This attitude really does a disservice to the person as a collector as there are so many names to choose from. If you wanted to stay with a big-name brand and all the safety that comes with that, you’d do well to check out Breitling.

Often thought of as playing catch-up to Rolex and Omega, Breitling has a fascinating history wrapped up in the development of aviation, and nearly all of its watches reflect this. Whether it’s the Navitimer, the Classic-AVI or the Avenger, the influence of Breitling’s aeronautical past is displayed to the world in most of its current collection. As aviation generally grew out of a need to attack other nations from long ranges, Breitling’s have been the tools for the skilled pilots of air forces for decades.

The Breitling Colt, is just one of these examples. It began life in the 1980’s as a watch for the armed forces. This was during the aftermath of the quartz crisis, where makers of mechanical watches had to suddenly compete with quartz watches that were cheaper and far more accurate. Many names went bust, while others barely made it and returned to their key markets: armed forces.

While the Colt was aimed at air forces, it also gained a following with civilians. It became a hit throughout the eighties, nineties and noughties with quartz, automatic and chronograph models being offered to name just a few.









What you see here is an automatic Colt made in 2018. This was the last generation of the Colt. In 2020, it was scrapped by Breitling’s CEO Georges Kern, who has been working to bring the company back to strength after a few years of going in all sorts of directions.

This re-interpretation of the classic Colt design brought the notched bezel with raised quarter-hour markers, a Breitling hallmark. A lume pip is also provided at 12 o’clock. This stainless-steel bezel with engraved markings and chunky add-ons helps to solidify the sporty appearance of this watch, not that that was really necessary as the steel case measures 44mm in diameter, so it’s pretty hard to ignore. There’s also 200m of water resistance to the case, so despite Breitling’s history with aeroplanes, it’s adept at making watches fit for scuba diving.

As with all sports watches, the Colt was most popular with a black dial, although we find this version with the “Stratus silver” dial to be just as, if not more, compelling. The dial is very technical in appearance, with an abundance of markings printed onto it. A big ’12’ written in Arabic stands out from the lumed stick markers, making it easy to orient the watch at night while luminous hands allow you to read the time. Next to the hour markers are 24-hour markers so you can effectively use this to track whether it’s morning or afternoon. However, you should note that this is not the same as a GMT watch, although a Colt GMT has been offered.

Some versions use a stainless steel multi-link bracelet, although, rubber was also an option at the time, as was a tasteful leather strap. Again, we like the bracelet more. The satin finish on top of the links works well, while the sides have been fully polished to match the sides of the case.

This particular model is Breitling’s Calibre B17, a reworked ETA 2824-2 calibre. While an ETA calibre might not make your hairs stand on end at first, it is a reliable workhorse of a movement that should be easy enough to have serviced for many years to come, even if Breitling isn’t the one servicing it.

The B17 comes with a 42-hour power reserve which is more or less the norm even today. It also has a 4Hz beat rate, meaning the balance wheel oscillates eight times a second making it very accurate. Coupled with this accuracy and longevity is the practicality. The self-winding nature of this movement means you don’t need to wind it up; just wear it and go. And, because there are no batteries inside, as it’s a mechanical movement, there are no worries about replacing the battery every two years. However, there is a service interval, which for most Breitlings is about every five to six years.

So, the Colt was a sporty watch designed for professionals but taken up by ordinary watch fans that has a big case, clear dial, and water resistance enough to make it a full-on diving watch to match any Tudor.

In some ways, it’s a shame that the Colt collection is no longer with us. The chunky good looks of the watch make it an attractive purchase, especially at its low price. However, if you’re mourning the loss of the Colt, you should fear not, as the Avenger model range looks similar to the Colt and is still in production.

View the full range of Breitling’s at;