In this watch test feature our writer Jens Koch and photographer Nik Schölzel pit modern versions of two iconic 1970s chronographs — the TAG Heuer Monaco and the Cheap Breitling Replica Chono-Matic — against each other in a challenge of retro sports watches.
The generation that came of age in the 1970s loves to revisit its memories of that time. And because the youths of those days have become the heavy-hitting customers of today, many things that were popular then are experiencing a rebirth. The success of the new muscle cars and the return of the Lava Lamp are proof. In the 1970s, Cheap Breitling — like men’s ties — were large and colorful. Experimentation with shapes and dimensions was the norm, and we see this trend emerging again today. It’s no wonder that we’re seeing models from the “Me Decade” reissued in a more or less revised form. As different as our two test watches appear at the outset, they do have a common origin that begins in 1969. That’s when the first automatic Breitling Replica Watches chronograph movement, called Caliber 11, was introduced, launching a new age. The ébauche manufacturer Büren Watch supplied an automatic movement with a microrotor for which Dubois Dépraz provided a chronograph module. Two watch companies, Breitling and Heuer, provided financing and aided in developing the technology. It was fitting that these firms were the main beneficiaries of Caliber 11. The first watches with this movement — the predecessors of our test Cheap Breitling Replica — appeared that same year.
In other facets of their outward appearance, however, both brands’ watches remained true to their predecessors. TAG Heuer retained its rectangular contours with gently curved flanks. At first glance the Cheap Breitling case appears to be an oval, but it is actually an octagon. Even the sizes of these two watches correspond almost exactly to the original versions that were introduced 39 years ago. This is particularly surprising for Breitling, since even by today’s standards the diameter of 49 millimeters is enormous, exceeding the earlier model by only one millimeter.
Both watches present top-of-the-line finishes on their cases. Breitling’s efforts include the rotating slide rule and rubberized bezel. Surfaces are carefully polished, the caseback is engraved and both sides of the sapphire crystal are nonreflective. The oversized crystal makes the Breitling Replica Watches appear even larger. The Monaco’s curved crystal is made of acrylic, as before, which means it’s quite susceptible to scratching — but a sapphire crystal would have been an extremely expensive addition. TAG Heuer must secure the caseback with screws due to the shape of the case, but the seal would have been tighter if more than four screws had been used. Breitling uses a structurally superior screwed caseback, but specifies the same water-resistance as TAG Heuer, so neither is suitable for swimming.