Review of a Breitling Jupiter Pilot Quartz Chronograph Watch

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First Impressions   (click on any image to enlarge it)

Jupiter Pilot front By my standards, this is a fairly big watch.  It is 42 mm wide, excluding the buttons, 46 mm lug-to-lug and 11 mm deep.  It weighs a moderate 50 g (2-3/4 oz).  The watch came with two Breitling blue leather straps with 10 year's worth of wear on them.  The octagonal shape of the case is quite unique and takes a little getting used to.

 The dial is a dark blue-gray color which meets my taste for dark colors, usually black, for tool watches.  The screen printing for the scales is finely done, more so than for many watches with a more Easterly origin.  There are no less than four buttons and a crown, one button is hidden flush with the case at 3.  The face is somewhat cluttered, this being typical of analog chronograph watches with several scales. A purist might also consider the dial layout to be asymmetrical due to the long hour marker at 8 opposing the short marker at 4.

Jupiter Pilot back The screw-in back has a substantial look with a large logo and stuff at center - with the rest, in French, around the periphery.  The center portion has the appearance of an inset medallion with polished characters on a satin-finish background.  Also visible at right is the "hidden button", more of which later.  I was relieved to find that the back accepts a standard removal tool, unlike those of some watch manufacturers who don't like people poking around in "their property"!

Jupiter Pilot side

The side view reminds me somewhat of an aircraft carrier with it's over-balanced appearance.  This look devolves from the uncompromisingly flat-topped case with only a hint of downward orientation for the lugs and from the almost 2 mm protrusion of the back from the underside of the case.


Jupiter Pilot front There are three subdials at 2,6 and 9:

@2) dual function, shows:
  • 2/100th secs for the first 3 minutes of timing
  • minutes to go during count-down
@6) Minutes during timing

@10) Hours during timing

Then, working inward from the bezel, there are four scales:  Two on the rotating bezel - a compass rose and the slide-rule A scale; two on the dial - the slide-rule B scale and a 0-100 scale.  Like most "E6B" slide-rule watches, the B scale has '60' positioned at the top, unlike the real E6B flight computer, which has '10' at the top. The dial is completed by a small date window at 4, the Breitling stuff at 12, and the word 'reveil' which is French for 'alarm'.  Earlier models had 'Quartz' in the same location - perhaps Breitling thought that was a little too obvious, what with the seconds hand clanking around the dial at once per second as quartz's do.

The hour markers are nicely sized and alternate in length except at 8, presumably so that we know which way up it is in the dark (there's no other way to tell!).  The hands are slim, as is the norm for chronographs, and have a nice 'ladder' design to support the luminous paint.  I was pleased to find that the lume is tritium paint - still glowing fairly well in this 1995 watch.

Modes and Functions

The movement is what Breitling calls a Cal. 59 - ebauche Miyota Cal. 3S10.

Basically, this watch works in two modes, selected by the button @8.   Pushing this button alternates between normal mode and timing (chrono) mode.  In normal mode, unlike most mechanical chronographs, the sweep seconds hand works all the time.  Push the button, and the seconds hand zooms round the dial to the zero (top) and waits, ready to start timing.  Push again, and the sweep seconds "catches up" to where it should be in normal time!

While in normal mode, the countdown timer can be used.  it displays on the sub-dial @2 - the button @10 is used to preset the timer from a max of 50 to a minimum of 1 minute.  The hand goes forward at 1-minute intervals and the time-to-go is indicated on the inner scale of the subdial; when there are 50 seconds left to go, the hand advances in 1-second intervals until done and the watch beeps for 10 seconds.

While in timing mode, the button @2 starts and stops the timing, and the button @10 resets the hands.  While timing, the sweep seconds hand displays elapsed seconds just like a mechanical chrono.

The watch also has a single alarm function, which is activated by pulling out the hidden button @3.  When this button is out, the alarm time can be checked or set by manipulating the crown @4.

The foregoing only describes the basics of using this watch.  However, if you're still awake, you'll find full instructions here.

The Scales

Jupiter Pilot front The Compass Rose looks pretty, but I can't conceive of a regular use for it.  About the only way it would work, unless you're actually flying a plane, is to point the hour hand at the sun and position S between the hour hand and 12.  At that time, the compass would be accurate to within, say, 5-20 degs.

The slide-rule scales are reasonably legible and the bezel rotates very smoothly indeed.  There is, however, a lack of useful marks on the scales, compared to other "flight computer" watches - only enough to convert between nautical miles, statute miles and kilometers.  The mark for kilometers (just right of "MPH") is not even labelled.  There is also a mystery mark at 36 between "NAUT" and "STAT".  It's use is to convert between hours and minutes, or minutes and seconds - or anything else with a factor of 60.  Other watches do provide more, for example: weight conversions, volume conversions and fuel & oil volume/weight conversions are typical.  Folks interested in learning a little more about using a slide-rule watch bezel can go here - but sorry, I don't know which model of watch this link refers to.

Interestingly, the innermost scale is marked 0-100 instead of the more usual 1 to 10 in hours:minutes format.  I'm not sure what it's intended use is.  It could provide a direct conversion between decimal fractions and minutes or seconds using the inner slide-rule scale.

A real flight computer Here's my real E6B flight computer for comparison.  It has 10 at the top, not 60.  The marker at 60 is labeled SPEED OR GPH acknowledging that it is used for several time-related calculations, not just MPH as found on most sliderule watches.  There is an inner scale showing 1 to 10 hours:minutes allowing a direct conversion from decimal hour results in that range.  The Jupiter Pilot does not have this scale.  The markers for distance conversions are on the outer scale, the Jupiter Pilot has them on the inner.  The marker at 36 is labelled SECS, that of the Jupiter Pilot is not.  The E6B has many other aviation related markers and scales, none of which are found on the Jupiter Pilot.

This lack of aviation markings on the Jupiter Pilot is not really a bad thing.  The scales are uncluttered and are thereby made useful for the more common uses of our sliderule watches: figuring a tip, currency conversion, comparing prices of different packages in the store and so forth.


Jupiter Pilot wrist shot How does it wear?  As you can see, the flat-top look translates into a watch that rides high on my wrist.  My view is that it will take a little getting used to, especially on my 55 mm wide wrist.  Still, after owning this up-market watch for a while, my feeling is that it's a keeper - to be enjoyed and worn often.
Thanks for looking!