The Breitling Callisto Chrono

History, versions and information about the Breitling Callisto Chrono wristwatch

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Introduction

The Breitling Callisto Chrono is a medium sized mechanical chronograph, designed for men or women, powered by a traditional Breitling Caliber 11 manual-wind movement. The Callisto Chrono shares several design features with the Chronomat, like the unidirectional rotating bezel, the rider tabs, and the onion-shaped pushers.


Trio of Breitling Callisto Chrono (photo credit: BreiCo)

The Callisto Chrono was produced to approximately 25,000 pieces from 1987/1988 to 1992; it was presumably replaced by the Chrono Cockpit x30011, in the Chronoliner lineup, which looks a lot like its predecessor, except for the automatic movement. (This one should not be mistaken with the newer Chrono Cockpit x13357 model, introduced in 2005.)

Other resembling watches include the Cockpit Auto (around 1995), and the Sextant chronograph, which was a contemporary of the Chrono Cockpit, but with a Quartz movement. The Sextant, as well as the second version of the Chrono Cockpit (x30012), both have a date window at 4 o'clock.

Versions of the Callisto Chrono

Aside from color variations, and case material, the watch came in several versions.

Versions 80520, 80520.1

The first version of the model. The case is brushed. The dial has painted batons, and shows 12 at 12 o'clock. The dial says BREITLING—not BREITLING 1884. Available both in stainless steel, or two-tone with gold rider tabs. The screw-in back opens thanks to 6 trenches.

Version 80520N


Breitling 80520N Callisto Chrono

Same as above, but Breitling started to use paint inside the engraved indents of the bezel.

Breitling probably released a special series of the 80520 N, noted Série spéciale on the case-back, with a 18k solid yellow gold bezel. All the gold bezels of the Callisto Chrono models have no paint in the minute indents.

Version 80520D

The case is polished, and the dial sports applied hour markers. There is no 12 any more; now there is a hour marker on top of the dial. Again, the dial still says BREITLING.

Version 11045

This version has a polished case and a brushed bezel. It uses the updated numbering scheme: A11045 (stainless steel), B11045 (yellow gold rider tabs), and D11045 (yellow gold bezel). There was also a transition period with the 80520D model, with double reference numbers (with both old and new ones), in or around 1990.

The dials first say BREITLING, then BREITLING 1884. The case-back engravings of the A11045 are: MANUFACTURÉ EN SUISSE - ÉTANCHE 30M - ACIER. Some dials start displaying SWISS MADE instead of T SWISS MADE T, meaning that the transition from Tritium to Luminova is on.


B11045/80520D Callisto Chrono (photo credit: JXB)

This version was also made as a D11045 “Patrouille de France” limited edition of 100 pieces, commemorating the 40th anniversary of the French Air Force aerobatics team, in 1993.

Version 11046

Similar to the 11045 version, except that the back says MANUFACTURÉ EN SUISSE CHRONOGRAPHE 30M.

Version 11047

This version has its case entirely polished. The only D11047/B11047 that I have seen were special edition models with display back. The case back says Série spéciale Chrono Callisto D11047 and opens with the newer 15-radii tool. No paint is used in the bezel indents. The dial has 1/5 seconds marks, instead of 1/4. The name also changed from ”Callisto Chrono“ to ”Chrono Callisto“.

Case and dial of the Callisto Chrono

The design of the case reminds that of the Chronomat series. It is a 36mm chronograph, which makes it a compact chronograph (whereas Breitling watches are usually quite bulky). This is probably the smallest mechanical chronograph ever made by Breitling. The dial is protected by a flat crystal. There are 4 screws to hold the rider tabs. Dimensions are 36.5 × 12.4 mm (though this may vary slightly from one version to another).


Breitling 80520N Callisto Chrono

The watch has a 18 mm interhorn. It came with a leather strap or a bullet bracelet. The Callisto Chrono could optionally be fitted a 12-hour additional smaller clock (in the same fashion as the UTC module for the Fighter bracelet and other Breitling bracelets).

See more Callisto Chrono pictures in the photo gallery.

The Caliber 11 movement

The Breitling version

The movement is what makes this watch so special. The Callisto Chrono is powered by a Breitling Caliber 11 movement, which is a manual wind chronograph. It is the 12-hour version of the more well-known Caliber 12 movement, which was used in the Breitling Cosmonaute II.

These movements are based on the Lemania 1873. The Callisto Chrono uses the regular movement, whereas the Cosmonaute sports a 24-hour geared 1873 (so that the hour hand makes a full cycle in 24 hours). Those movements were used by Breitling from the 1980s, until they became unavailable in 2002.


Breitling Caliber 11

It is an integrated chronograph, with 21,600 vibrations per hour (3 Hz), and 17 or 18 jewels (the Callisto Chrono always had 17 jewels, though some Caliber 12 movements had either 17 or 18). Dimensions are 27 mm in diameter, 6.9 mm in height; power reserve is 38 hours. It is anti-shock (Incabloc), anti-magnetic, and can be fine-tuned with a micrometric screw.

One of the particularities of this movement is the use of a “delrin” brake, which is a piece of hard synthetic material designed for stopping the chronograph wheel. It is durable and self-lubricating, and therefore probably better suited for the job than its metal counterpart, and cheaper to manufacture as well. The delrin brake is also used by other prestigious brands such as Omega (although their display-back versions have the brake replaced by a piece of metal), Universal Genève, and Sinn.

History of the Lemania 1873 movement

The Lemania caliber 1873 was created in 1968 by Lemania Watch Co. & A. Lugrin Co.. It was originally made for the famous Omega Speedmaster chronograph (also known as the “Moon Watch”).

The most notable ancestor of the 1873 is the 27 CHRO C12 (aka Omega caliber 321, aka Lemania 2310), launched in 1942, apparently by Albert Piguet, who worked there at this time.

Quoting Chuck Maddox:

The [Omega caliber] 321 is based on a design development project titled “27 CHRO C12” (27 mm diameter, chronograph, with extra 12-hour register) took place in the 1940s by Albert Piguet and Jacques Reymond as a joint development project between Omega and Lemania.

This Omega caliber 321 was used in Omega Speedmasters until 1968, after which it was replaced by the Omega caliber 1863 (or 1861 or 861, which are similar). The 321 was the first movement to be worn on the Moon, in 1969.

The Omega caliber 861, developed by Lemania from 1965, has a direct lineage to the caliber 321, though it relied on a simpler construction, without a column wheel, nor Breguet overcoil, nor weights screwed in its balance wheel. The 861 was renamed to “Lemania 1873” after the separation from SSIH in 1981.

The 1873 was originally a mass produced movement; now it has a more exclusive status, and is equally more costly. It is highly regarded because it is reliable, compact, cleverly built, and beautiful. This movement (as well as many variations on it) is still used nowadays.

Brands using this movement, aside from Omega, included Breitling, Chronoswiss, Baume & Mercier… Alas, around 2002, the Swatch Group limited the availability of Lemania movements to companies inside its group. The 1873, in particular, was restricted only to Omega (for instance Tag Heuer, inside LVMH, had to change their Carrera model in 2000; Breitling had to use the Caliber 22 instead of the Caliber 12). It is now impossible to have a watch equipped with a Lemania movement outside from the Swatch group.

Brief history of Lemania

Lugrin SA, established in 1884 and created by Alfred Lugrin, was a workshop specialized in complicated movements (like chronographs and repetition movements). It was based in Le Sentier, Switzerland, in the Vallée de Joux and not far from Lake Léman. The story says that he was taught the watchmaking knowledge by the son of a farmer. Lugrin earned medals for the quality of his work in 1906 (Milan fair) and 1914 (Bern fair). In 1930 the firm becomes Lemania Watch Co. on the impulse of the young watchmaker Marius Meylan, seemingly in recognition of the Leman caliber.

It later became part of SSIH (Société suisse pour l’industrie horlogère), the merging with Omega and Tissot, in 1932, during a time of crisis for the watch industry. Lemania's chronograph specialty enabled Omega to become the official timer of the Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles, the same year. SSIH quickly grew to over 50 companies.

Later, in 1981, Lemania is separated from the SSIH group and renamed “Nouvelle Lemania”.

In 1983, SSIH merged with USUAG (Allgemeine Schweizerische Uhrenindustrie AG, which includes Longines, Rado and other parts manufacturers). The newly formed group was named SMH (Société de Microélectronique et d'Horlogerie) in 1986.
Two years later, SMH was renamed to “Swatch Group”, in recognition of the efforts of the small Swatch to save the Swiss watch industry.

In 1992 Nouvelle Lemania goes to Investcorp and the Breguet group (Groupe Horloger Breguet, a.k.a. GHB). Finally, in 1999 Breguet becomes part of the Swatch Group, and so does Lemania.
Inside the new group, Lemania, chronographs and complication movements, became “Manufacture de Haute Horlogerie Breguet”. Lemania's official name is “Montres Breguet” today, though the name on the door of the workshop still says “Lemania”, probably due to this rich history. The Breguet Type XX is an example of a modern Breguet using a Lemania movement.

Breitling watches with Lemania movements

Only a handful Breitling watches used the Caliber 11 or its variants.

In popular culture

A Callisto Chrono is worn by actor Richard Dean Anderson (among other watches) in television series MacGyver.


MacGyver and his Breitling (could not find a better picture!)

Thanks to Jean-Xavier B., WatchFred and KarlWS for their help and information!

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