Splurge vs. Steal: Breitling Transocean vs. Bell & Ross Heritage

Exploring Two Exceptional Pilot Watches

For watch enthusiasts who love to travel, nothing is more luxurious than having a handsome pilot’s watch on your wrist. It not only comes in handy but also makes the journey feel even more special. Pilot’s watches can come at a range of price points. Just because your grail model is out of reach doesn’t mean there’s not an admirable alternative in your budget.

Take, for instance, the Breitling Transocean and the Bell & Ross Heritage. Breitling is a brand that’s highly coveted among members of the watch community, particularly among fans of pilot’s watches. They’re beloved for their aviation-inspired models featuring oversized, purpose-built designs. Plus, Breitling is particularly well-known for their ultra-precise chronometers, like the Transocean. While the Bell & Ross name might not hold as much clout, they have an equally rich heritage of pilot’s watches. The brand’s early designers worked in tandem with aircraft control specialists to develop timekeeping instruments optimized for pilots. Over the years, Bell & Ross has become famous for their now-iconic square cases. However, they’ve also created some exceptional models featuring more traditional round cases, like the Heritage. The major difference between the pilot’s watches produced by these two brands is the price tag. Here, we’ll dive deeper into these watches and help you choose the best model for you.

The Splurge: The Breitling Transocean Chronograph

The design of the Breitling Transocean Chronograph harks back to a simpler time. It draws inspiration from pilot’s watches of the 1950s and 60s when intercontinental travel was new, exclusive, and exciting. From the typeface on the dial to the iconic Breitling “B” logo, the model has a distinctly retro look and feel. It features a tri-compax arrangement of smoothly recessed subdials – two chronograph and one small seconds. Additionally, there’s a date window tucked among the chronograph registers between the four and five-o’clock positions and a tachymeter scale. Inside, the model gets a modern upgrade in the form of the Caliber B01 self-winding mechanical movement. It has a fully integrated column-wheel chronograph and boasts a power reserve of 70 hours. You can see the movement in all its glory through the exhibition caseback.

The Steal: The Bell & Ross Heritage

With the Heritage, Bell & Ross also draws from pilot’s watches past. Like Breitling with the Transocean, Bell & Ross approaches the Heritage with the utmost attention to detail, beginning with the dial. The hands and hour markers get an aged look with an artificial patina effect and the crystal is domed. Elements like this make it hard to distinguish the model from a true vintage. Similar to the Transocean, we see the date window nestled between the four and five-o’clock positions. However, with the Heritage, there are only two subdials and no tachymeter scale. Still, the biggest difference between the Transocean and the Heritage is the movement. The Transocean comes equipped with one of Breitling’s in-house calibers. On the other hand, the Heritage houses the ETA 2824 self-winding mechanical movement with only a 36-hour power reserve. 


Choosing the Best Model for You

If you’re looking for a pilot’s watch with historically significant retro elements, you can’t go wrong with either model. The Transocean and the Heritage are both truly authentic vintage-inspired watches. The two key differences to consider are the movement and subsequently the price tag. If you want an in-house caliber and longer power reserve, you should save up and hold out for the Transocean. However, if these features aren’t deal breakers, the Heritage is an awesome alternative.

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Caitlyn is the founder of Grey Ghost, a New York City-based boutique content marketing agency with a passion for artists, entrepreneurs, small businesses, and startups. She believes in quality over quantity, creative thinking, and, above all, using language as powerful tool to build lasting connections.

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