As a brand, Breitling is arguably best known for its fairly purpose-built tool watches such as the Navitimer and Superocean; however, there is also an entirely more refined side to Breitling’s catalog. Originally conceived during the height of World War II by Willy Breitling and officially launched in 1943, the Premier collection marked a significant departure from the various utilitarian timepieces that were primarily used by pilots and engineers during the era. Brought to life by Willy Breitling, who was the President of the brand at that time, the Breitling Premier collection offered an elegant and refined design that still retained all of the same functionality that had made the brand’s tool watches famous among aviators and other professionals who required a wristwatch with precision timing capabilities. The latest new release from Breitling is the Premier B21 Chronograph Tourbillon 42 series, which consists of a trio of ultra-premium chronographs with precious metal cases, and each of the three models pays tribute to a different one of Breitling’s founding fathers.
Named after the company’s original founder, the Léon Breitling model features a solid 18k red-gold case fitted with a silver dial and brown alligator strap that features a matching red-gold fold-over clasp. Meanwhile, the Gaston Breitling version, which is named after Léon’s son, who served as the company’s President after him, swaps out the red-gold case for one made from 18k white gold and pairs it with an anthracite dial and a black alligator strap fitted with a clasp made from white gold. Lastly, the version named after Willy Breitling, who was Gaston’s son and the one responsible for bringing the Premier collection to life, receives a solid platinum case with an admiral blue dial and the same black alligator strap that appears on the Gaston Breitling edition.
Despite their differences, all three of the new Breitling Premier B21 Chronograph Tourbillon 42 watches feature the same overall case design with its round profile and signature rectangular chronograph pushers flanking the winding crown at the 3 o’clock location. The cases themselves measure 42mm in diameter by 15.25mm thick, with 22mm lugs and an overall lug-to-lug distance of 50.03mm. Protecting the dials are cambered Sapphire crystals with an anti-glare treatment on both inner and outer surfaces, while the reverse side of the watches are fitted with screw-down exhibition style casebacks, which are fitted with large domed sapphire crystal display windows that offer a view of the inner workings of the self-winding movement that powers the trio of watches.
Similar to the cases, all three of the new Breitling Premier B21 Chronograph Tourbillon 42 watches feature the same dial design, despite appearing in different colors. With a single 60-minute counter sitting at the 6 o’clock location and a tourbillon prominently displayed opposite it at 12 o’clock, the dial of the Premier B21 Chronograph Tourbillon 42 offers a perfectly symmetrical layout, which further plays into its refined overall aesthetic. Indicating the time are polished Arabic numeral hour markers (a signature trait of the Premier collection) and a set of syringe-shaped hands that appear in a metal tone that matches the case. A tachymeter scale is subtly printed along the dial’s periphery, while both the hour and minute hand receive Super-LumiNova inserts for added legibility in low-light conditions.
Powering all three versions of the Breitling Premier B21 Chronograph Tourbillon 42 is the brand’s Caliber B21 automatic movement, which is produced in collaboration with the famous Swiss movement manufacturer La Joux-Perret. Running at a frequency of 28,800vph (4 Hz) and offering users a power reserve of approximately 55 hours, the Breitling Cal. B21 features a column wheel-controlled design with a horizontal clutch, and in addition to being a COSC-certified chronometer, the Cal. B21 features both its skeletonized oscillating weight and tourbillon crafted from contrasting solid gold.
As a trio of watches that pays tribute to the three most important individuals from the company’s history, the Breitling Premier B21 Chronograph Tourbillon 42 is positioned as an ultra-premium option within the brand’s catalog, and with solid gold or platinum cases and a tourbillon-equipped chronograph movement, the new models certainly live up to that title. Both of the 18k gold versions (Léon and Gaston) are accompanied by an official retail price of $57,000 USD, while the Willy Breitling edition and its solid platinum case is priced at $67,000 USD. Additionally, despite their exclusive nature and luxurious case materials, none of the three Breitling Premier B21 Chronograph Tourbillon 42 watches will be produced as limited editions, where production will be capped at a specific number. That being said, considering that all three of these tourbillon-equipped watches cost more than twice the price of most other solid gold Premier chronographs, it can only be assumed that production of these new models will be rather limited simply due to their ultra-premium positioning within Breitling’s overall lineup. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.