March 21, 2019
It seems as if cross-industry partnerships and co-branding in the watch world is something that more and more big names are starting to do. Just a few days ago, I was tasked with reporting on the partnership between TAG Heuer and Aston Martin with the launch of a new supercar that — surprise, surprise — comes with a free watch (assuming you can pay almost 300k for the privilege). While that one was a hyper-modern matchup, today, we’ve got something with an old-school feel coming at us on two wheels with the Breitling Premier B01 Norton Edition.
Or at least, that’s the shorter, more manageable name by which we’ll refer to this watch. You’ve got to admit you’d get tired of me calling it the “Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph 42 Norton Edition” for the entirety of the article (though that is its official name). In terms of what the watch offers, I’m going to point you to David’s excellent hands-on review of the standard Premier B01 Chronograph that we did back in October. While I’m not particularly drawn to chronographs, I think what Breitling has done here looks quite nice.
By that, I mean that the Breitling Premier B01 Norton Edition had stripped away all of the pilot-oriented stuff (the slide rule, etc) that tends to make an overly complicated and difficult-to-read mess of a dial. With this watch, as David points out, there’s a solid vintage feel to the piece. This translates into a much cleaner dial, and the reverse-panda look here is crisp. Breitling also managed to snug the date window into the dial with an abbreviated index. That breaks where we’ve got the numerals into easy quadrants, and it continues the well-balanced look to the dial.
Speaking of looks — while the dial of the Breitling Premier B01 Norton Edition does not claim any Norton partnership, you can look at this and see the Norton black and gold shining through. When I got into motorcycles, my dad was right there with me, reliving his time on two wheels. He has a soft spot for the Norton marque, and I guess that rubbed off a bit. While I was pretty happy with my v-twin bike, I was seriously tempted by the old-school looks of the bikes that came out in the early 2000s, giving us the scramblers and cafe racers in production form. And wouldn’t you know it, along with the co-branded watch, there is, indeed, a bike.
To pair perfectly with your Breitling Premier B01 Norton Edition, the chef has prepared for you one of 77 examples of the Norton Commando 961 Café Racer MKII Breitling Limited-Edition Motorcycle. While the lines of the bike certainly evoke the feeling of bombing down some twisties, the fact that Norton put a 961cc engine (an in-house design) into the frame means that the bike can back up what the steel is saying, provided the rider is up to the challenge. The bike carries a few different spots of Breitling branding on it with a vintage Breitling “B” showing up on the clutch box and saddle, as well as some Bretiling-designed speedometer and tachometer dials. Surprisingly, no clock mounted in there. I guess that’s what the watch is for.
For those wondering, the Breitling Premier B01 Norton Edition does carry more of a tie to Norton than the classic color scheme on the dial. You’ve got a Norton nameplate mounted on the side of the dial, and the bike itself is etched onto the caseback crystal (along with the logo). I don’t know that I care for the additional plate on the side of case, but I suppose we can think of it as an additional skid plate for the watch (though not on that side of the case unless you’re a right-wrist person) should things not stay shiny-side-up. With the Breitling Premier B01 Norton Edition, I’d normally advocate for the bracelet version (as straps are easy to pick up later), and you could certainly do that.
That said, I feel that the sueded leather strap they’re offering on the Breitling Premier B01 Norton Edition has a much better look, making it feel, well, older and better fit to the steel-and-leather aesthetic of the bike. While this isn’t something I’ll likely see on my wrist (or in my garage), I think I know what to get for my dad should some lottery winnings come my way. Now, to go buy a ticket. For more information, visit breitling.com.
Tech Specs from Breitling