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Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph Watch Review

Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph 42 is versatile, remarkably well finished to the point that it punches above its weight, and a welcome addition to an underserved category of dressy chronographs. I spent quite a bit of time with the blue dial variant and it was as natural a fit when I was wearing a Fred Perry polo and a pair of Birddogs as it was when I attended a wedding in a tan Gucci suit. If you’re a person who depends on your watch for a personality, then this likely isn’t the watch for you. Rather, the Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph 42 is the final touch that underscores a subtle point.

The Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph 42 brings exceptional finishing, thoughtful proportions, handsomely versatile design, and an in-house movement to the table for a price of $8,500. That’s a lot of value, and Breitling has continually exceeded my expectations for the past two years.

Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

My admiration for Georges Kern-era Breitling is no secret, at this point, but I was a little anxious at the initial release of the Premier Collection. The photos made the watch look a little too safe and conservative, and while that remained largely true in the weeks I’ve worn the watch, I have found myself not using either of those descriptors as a pejorative. The history of modern chronographs from Breitling is a long and elaborate one, with a lot of strong personalities involved. Between the Chronomat and Navitimer alone, let alone others, there is a lot of expectation that comes along with being a chronograph from Breitling.

Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph 42 Design & Case

The Premier B01 Chronograph 42 was an exercise in the importance of restraint in design, understanding proportions, and finish quality. The result is one of the most balanced pieces Breitling has ever made. The Premier B01 Chronograph falls within the “vintage-inspired” Premier collection, but I actually don’t really feel beholden to that general parlance. Rather, it’s a watch I’d see on Don Draper’s wrist — the closest I can get to nailing down its identity. I think it is intentionally designed and marketed to underscore the personality and style of the wearer, rather than try to add personality and style to the wearer.

Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

It’s all about case finish, design, and proportions with an impressive in-house movement from Breitling. The model I chose to wear is the blue dial with blue alligator strap, though there are several varieties like the panda dial, gray and black, and that green-dialed Bentley edition that I love so much.

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Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Measuring 42mm-wide and 13.65mm-thick with a lug-to-lug measurement that is a hair shy of 50mm (I believe technically closer to 49.95mm), the case is water resistant to an impressive 100M. When organizing my thoughts on this watch, I remembered what our David Bredan said about the bezel and case profile when the watch was first released. He wrote then:

Subtle, integrated pushers and the smart, multi-step steel bezel make for an unobtrusive chronograph. The Premier hides its heft and thickness extremely well, thanks to that low case profile and the polished bezel that narrows quickly and in multiple steps. It is only now, that I’m looking at this photo above that I realize how intricate and unique that design is. This is precisely the sort of stuff that one should absolutely expect from watches that cost not $4k but double that – manufacturing and finishing this bezel must be a pain compared an ordinary one. The lugs are cut off at a steep angle; Guy worked his magic at cutting these down to a length that makes the case wearable for those with smaller sized wrists.

Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Having spent so much time with the Premier B01 Chronograph, I can attest to all of this being not just accurate but what makes the watch so appealing. None of these finishes and design decisions are unique in contemporary watches, but few peers in this price ~$8,500 category attempt, let alone accomplish.

Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

It’s the little things that make a cohesive final product stand out, and the crown on this watch is one of those things. The crown has distinctly large and deep knurling that I could immediately tell was made for modern-sized fingers. So many watches force me to have to almost pinch the crown when using it, making me feel like I’m setting a child’s toy. Not here, though. Also, the crown is thankfully not screw-down and is simple enough to operate. One pull of the crown sets the date and another pull sets the time. The date aperture and hands are responsive and don’t suffer from the oversensitivity and jumpiness that too many others do.

I was not surprised to later learn that Breitling created this crown specifically for the Premier B01 Chronograph — it absolutely shows. Again, it’s a level of thoughtfulness and attention to detail that you don’t often see from brands of this size.

Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Seeing two color tones (blue and gray, in this case) on a Breitling dial is an indication that it houses one of the brand’s in-house movements. Visible through the exhibition caseback is the Breitling Manufacture Calibre 01 movement, also known as the B01 for short. Introduced just about a decade ago now, the COSC-certified B01 was Breitling’s first in-house chronograph movement and is now considered the gold standard for contemporary chronograph movements both among its price bracket as well as a bracket above.

Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph Movement

Featuring a column wheel and vertical clutch, the B01 chronograph operates smoothly and is designed to last (Breitling offered a five-year warranty way before many peers did). As trite as it may sound, pushing the rectangular pushers is so satisfying on a tactile level. Seriously, if you find yourself passing by a Breitling boutique and have some time on your hands, go and check it out in person. It’s nothing new or innovative, but the feel of the pusher and the engaging of the column wheel here really is a masterclass in what a modern chronograph should offer.

Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Beyond the chronograph functions, the B01 also has a hacking seconds mechanism as well as quick-set date. Made of 346 components including 47 jewels, the B01 operates at 28,800 vph (4Hz) and has a 70-hour power reserve. It’s an ideal chronograph movement that ranks up there among the best in the industry.

Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The Competition

The landscape of true competitors of the Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph 42 isn’t very broad, but there are certainly some notable peers. The Omega Speedmaster ’57 (around $9,000) comes to mind with its 41.5mm-wide case, two-chronograph sub-dial layout, and classic looks. However, the Caliber 9300 movement is a bit dated at this point and doesn’t approach the B01. However, the Speedmaster Racing Master Chronometer ($8,450) while sportier, is outfitted with the Master Chronometer Caliber 9900 which is METAS-certified and is a much closer competitor to the B01.

Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The IWC Portugieser Chronograph Classic and Yacht Club Chronograph (both $12,100 in steel) are definitely competitors to the Premier B01 Chronograph. The Portugieser Chronograph Classic is sized at 42mm-wide and 14.2mm-thick, while the Yacht Club Chronograph is a bit bigger at 43.5mm-wide and 14.2mm-thick. Both use the in-house caliber 89361 which is a flyback chronograph with a 68-hour power reserve. I’m a huge fan of both of these watches and have a soft spot for the Yacht Club Chronograph, but the $3,600 premium over the Breitling puts the Premier on top.

Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The Zenith Chronomaster El Primero in steel is actually a pretty good value at $6,700, and there have been quite a few varieties in recent history. Obviously, the El Primero movement is one of the all-time greats, and the watch is attractive in the 42mm-wide steel case. It’s sportier than the Breitling, but not in an over- the-top way. That said, I think the finishes on pricier El Primero watches come closer to rivaling those on the Breitling.

Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Breitling has steadily been adding to this collection (such as this limited edition Wheels & Waves version), though this blue-dial version and the fantastic Bentley British Racing green-dial models are probably my favorite. The Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph 42 on the leather strap is priced at $8,400, with the steel bracelet option inching the price up to $8,700. You can learn more about the Premier collection here and more about the brand at breitling.com

Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Necessary Data
>Brand: Breitling
>Model: Premier B01 Chronograph 42
>Price: $8,400
>Size: 42mm-wide/13.65mm-thick, just under 50mm lug-to-lug
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Someone who enjoys chronographs but needs a watch that fits in at a variety of settings. Really, anyone who wants a top-notch finished chronograph with a no-compromise modern movement.
>Best characteristic of watch: The case finishing and movement.
>Worst characteristic of watch: My instinct is to say “none” but if I have to, I wouldn’t reject a thinner case.

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Comments

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  • Excellent photos for a great watch.

    • Bilal Khan

      Much appreciated

  • Craig A Clark

    The only thing I dislike about this watch is that I can’t afford one, everything is is gorgeous.

    • Harley D boy

      my thoughts too , oh lovely photos thanks

  • Swiss_Cheese

    Disregarding the price and the fact that 42mm is stretching the friendship slightly, it’s one of the best looking offerings from Breitling. If it was 39mm, on a bracelet and around $5k, 90% of my wish-list would move down one space. Also, while 13.5mm-ish is by no means ‘thin’ in my books, a three hand/date/chrono is no mean feat in the $5k-10k market considering some chronographs push the 15mm without the date *Cough* BP FF *Cough*…

    • Simonh

      It’s just that when you come to buy it you cannot disregard the price!

  • SuperStrapper

    It’s very nice, but I’m still holding out for a new Cosmonaute. I just know it’s coming…

    • Bilal Khan

      From your mouth to Kern’s ears

      • SuperStrapper

        Let me know when he’s listening so I can fully design it. I promise to buy one.

    • TheZondaS

      I also think that, just like Agent Smith’s doings in Matrix, a new Cosmonaute is inevitable. Especially since Kern’s always talking about what Breitling used to be and how great it was.

  • hatster

    I saw the launch write-up on here so popped into the NY Breitling shop to see it in person. It is just a lovely bit of kit. It is influenced by the current ‘vintage’ play that many are going after but is contemporary enough to keep those happy who see the ‘vintage-inspired’ tag as nothing more than irritating. The white face with the black sub-dials is possibly my current favourite new watch available at the moment. And don’t be put off by the size, I have small wrists and would have bought it on the spot if I had the money. Not everyone’s cup of tea but it is mine. With added cake!

  • Independent_George

    I prefer Breitlings to be “toolier” than “dressier”, so the Premier line is not my choice for a Breitling, but this is a nice watch.

  • TheChuphta

    I like it. I know it’s an unusual line to draw, but am I alone in being into watches but thinking male fashion is insufferable nonsense? The idea of being a guy and having a closet stuffed with clothes and special little shoes is so silly to me; it’s right up there with men’s haircuts that cost over $25.

    • Bilal Khan

      …but what else would you put in a closet?

      • TheChuphta

        The things no adult man should really care for anyone else to see: old trophies and tax returns.

    • ray h.

      You are in a mens jewelry shop like a abtw and say what you said ! lol People take shoes and sweaters and such just a serious as you take the jewelry part of it. Not me ,but yes a great many.

  • George Yang

    I do not understand the line from David, “This is precisely the sort of stuff that one should absolutely expect from watches that cost not $4k but double that – ”

    Doesn’t this watch cost $8,500? So how is that a compliment then?

    • ray h.

      It’s not.

    • He is saying that it has a good level of finish that you would expect for the price. He isn’t saying that this watch under or over delivers, but rather hits the mark. His implication is that OTHER watches are under delivering.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    ” The B01 Chronograph 42 was an exercise in the importance of restraint in design “. I guess this is about as restrained as Breitling gets. I’m afraid I just have a general dislike for Breitling. Sure they are really nice, well put together but in the main they are a little busy for me what with that tacky metre and numbers on the bezel. Also I don’t like a deep date window. Having the sub dials the same colour of the dial would help. Call me fickle, but I can’t help it.
    Can we have a lume shot with a hands on please.

  • That’s a fine-looking watch, but an we all please agree to ban the trope “punches above it’s weight?”

  • Max Attack

    love it

  • SPQR

    Having examined the Breitling Premier Chronograph B01 I agree that the case is very well finished and has a pleasing retro feel. But I would definitely get this watch on the bracelet which “finishes it off” really well. It is heavier of course but feels totally solid. There are a lot of polished surfaces on the top of the case but not so much on the side so the bracelet (which is polished) helps to give a little more visual interest. Get the dealer to throw in the leather strap as well and you get a very versatile and classy watch. Two things with the review though – Omega Cal.9900 is essentially the same movement as the Cal.9300 but with more extensive use of non-magnetic components (and additional METAS certification). Functionally and visually the Cal.9300 and Cal.9900 are the same so to state the Cal.9300 is “a bit dated” but the Cal.9900 is not does not make any logical sense. This is particularly so as the Breitling B01 movement predates the Omega Cal.9300 so it is itself at least as “dated” if not more so than the Cal.9300. Second, the Omega Cal.9300/9900 offer a 12 hour chronograph whereas the Breitling Premier B01 is only a 30 minute chronograph. That is a big issue if you actually need to time anything. The Omega Racing Master Chronometer is also (in the UK) significantly cheaper on a bracket than the Breitling Premier B01 on a strap. The case finishing and quality of the Omega is better than the Breitling but it only offers 50 M of water resistance and is not as “dressy” as the Breitling Premier B01. My own preference is to get both a Speedmaster and a Premier. Which is what I did. Finally the Speedmaster ‘57 Co-axial has been effectively deleted by Omega so is not really a competitor.

    • Bilal Khan

      Thanks for the comment elucidating those points about the comp set, don’t disagree with you largely.

      • SPQR

        I would add that the Omega Cal.9300/9900 is far better finished than the Breitling B01. Not just my opinion as the same point was made in the Watchtime Magazine review of the Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon and the Breitling Chronomat GMT Black Steel which uses the B04 based on the B01. Also worth noting is the Omega Cal.9300/9900 uses a balance bridge and a free spring balance whereas the B01 uses a balance cock and an eccentric screw adjustment. This allows a finer regulation and greater isochronism on the Omega movement. Though to be fair both systems can be regulated to give excellent timekeeping.

    • SuperStrapper

      I like this comment. I’m personally not so bothered about the 30 minute limitation in the chronograph readout here. And to be clear, it’s not a limitation of the movement, which measures 12 hours elsewhere. The 3rd dial was omitted here for style reasons and there’s nothing wrong with that (in my books anyway). I absolutely agree to get the bracelet, Breitling bracelets are superb. Interesting you find the omega finishing notably better; I think both are really excellent in that regard and that Breitling has an excellent record in very nicely finished steel watches.
      This movement would be significantly elevated in appearance with properly polished and heat blued screws.

  • Dufresne

    I like it, and the finishing seems very good. I am not an “anti-date complication guy” at all. In fact, I require a date on my watches. However, at this price point, or any price point, I would like to have seen a nicer (more intricate? beveled? something) cutout for the date window. That wouldn’t prevent me from buying one of these if I were in the market though. Overall, very solid.

    • Bilal Khan

      Yeah, that’s definitely a salient point here and in the broader industry. I’ve heard reps from brands I won’t name say “well, the Nautilus doesn’t have a matching date window” as if that isn’t a glaring exception. Glad Breitling and some others have upped their game here and, to your point, keep it going.

  • PR

    It’s really nice in person and the other colors are even better than the blue shown here. It’s a tough decision between this and Navitimer with panda dials. I think the Navi wears better but the dial on the premier is lovely.

    • Bilal Khan

      Yeah, the panda dial model is a stunner for sure.

  • I simply can’t find any faults in this watch. I love it.

  • ray h.

    Is this collectible or just a watch? Will the value go up very soon ? Is there a waiting list ? If none of these things then let me know when you have one like that. (the current market).

  • Eric Gordon

    Ditto to comments by SPQR. I don’t get how companies can charge this much money for a chronograph that only measures 30 minutes. That’s ridiculous, and of no practical use to anyone measuring time. It’s why I got rid of my IWC Portuguese Chrono in favor of an Omega ’57. The Omega is an attractive 2-register display, that despite having a “dated” 9300 movement, manages to squeeze in 60 hr power reserve, 100M water resistance, and a 12 hour column wheel chronograph in a very attractive case and overall design. Far more advanced than the Breitling, and many other so called “gentlemen’s” chronographs. No competition. The review reads like a Breitling paid ad, not a serious critique.

    • Bilal Khan

      Both those watches are in “The Competition” so I think the section does a good job at identifying the general landscape in this range especially considering you’ve owned them both at one point or another.

  • SuperStrapper

    If you slapped me awake at 3am and showed me just this strap, I’d say Breitling. The high pad, oddly inset stitching lines and big stitches are all Breitling strap features that have survived a long time. Not a fan. And this curved but not integrated end is not a look I’ve ever liked, a look that bremont leaned on quite a bit a while ago. To be clear, the quality of Breitling straps is great, I just don’t like the look. Their bracelets are amazing.
    If it were mine I’d made a grey gator/exotic strap for it that was sueded, not glossy, and pad it evenly across the width. Stitch it in the dial’s blue. This would bring the look all together nicely.
    I like this ‘moody panda’ appearance, but as usual I’m turned off by the red highlights.

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