Considering Breitling's myriad vintage-inspired watch releases, you wouldn't be remiss for thinking the Swiss brand had forgone the idea of a modern, purpose-built wristwatch, but you'd be (sort of) wrong.
The new Endurance Pro is an ultra-lightweight, quartz-powered chronograph designed specifically with athletes in mind. The result of a conversation between Breitling CEO Georges Kearn and Triathlon Squad member Jan Frodeno, it's made for hard use. Says Kearn: "We started brainstorming about the perfect sporty lifestyle watch and that conversation led to the development of the Endurance Pro. With this watch, we adapted our Super-Quartz technology to the needs of people like Jan who play as hard as they work."
What is "Super-Quartz technology," you may ask? It's a thermo-compensated (temperature-compensated) movement "ten times more accurate than conventional quartz." Cool! The tech actually isn't brand new — it powers Breitling's Professional range of watches, and has proven itself with athletes many times over.
Interestingly, in designing the Endurance Pro, Breitling took inspiration from one of its own creations — a unique version of the Sprint from the 1970s that featured, believe it or not, a lightweight resin case. This feature, combined with a pulsation scale for measuring heart rate, made it an ideal choice for athletes.
Breitling chose to replicate this combination of features on the new Endurance Pro by producing the watch's case in Breitlight, an ultra lightweight material developed in-house by the company in 2016. Breitlight is 3.3 times lighter than titanium and 5.8 times lighter than stainless steel — it's also hypoallergenic, non-magnetic, and thermally stable, as well as highly scratch- and corrosion-resistant.
So we have a lightweight, 44mm case with 300m of water resistance; an ultra-accurate, COSC-certified Breitling Caliber 82 quartz movement; a pulsation scale...what else you got, Breitling? A bunch more, it turns out. The Endurance Pro also features a bi-directional compass bezel, a matching Diver Pro rubber strap (Outerknown ECONYL yarn NATO straps are available for purchase separately), and, of course, a chronograph, rendered here with running seconds, 1/10th second and 30-minute counters.
Are athletes truly going to be checking their pulse on an analog-dial watch when smartwatches are available that do this automatically? Are they going to be performing manual directional calculations using the compass bezel in the age of Google Maps? Is there any good reason in hell that a watch meant to be worn by both men and women need be 44mm in diameter, especially in 2020 when we were finally coming down from this collective, ultra-large diameter stupor that we'd been in for 25 years? I would say "nay" to all. But I vastly appreciate the idea of a purpose-built watch, something that's meant to fulfill a specific job and isn't simply a modern rehashing of a vintage watch, long out of circulation. (Much as I love and indeed prefer those vintage watches.)
The Endurance Pro is available in five colors for $3,000, which, though certainly not within "impulse buy" territory, is a price that at the very least doesn't make one recoil with horror. This could conceivably be the type of watch you save up your hard-earned, high school job money for, or that you receive as a graduation gift, or that you nab with that bonus money. (A quartz movement no doubt helps keep the price where it is.)
My father has a black PVD-coated, quartz-powered Breitling Colt that he bought in NYC in the '80s on the recommendation of a close friend, an ex-Green Beret who recently passed away from COVID. He's worn that watch jumping out of plenty of perfectly good aircraft, as well as on plenty of scuba dives. He still has it, and it still keeps perfect time. It was expensive at the time, but still within the realm of attainability, and it was a worthwhile purchase. If the Endurance Pro turns out to be a modern Colt in the sense of its ruggedness and utility, I'd say it's worth the price of admission. So long as you have the wrist for it.