April 6, 2021
by Zach Pina
Remember Travolta? Remember Beckham? Remember the weirdly sexist undertones of a brand that for the longest while couldn’t quite seem to pin down who it was trying to make watches for and how to talk to them? In case you still do, it might finally be time to go ahead and forget this awkward period of now-ancient history in the grand scheme of Breitling‘s meteoric return to relevance. As Breitling CEO Georges Kern continues to put distance between his brand direction and that of his predecessors from the Schneider Era, he’s this time leaning on the brand’s own original founding managers for inspiration to yield a trio of new references: a traditional handwound chronograph, a ‘rattrapante’ or split second chronograph, and a complete calendar chronograph, that together comprise the newly christened Premier Heritage Collection.
The original Breitling Premier collection was more or less Kern’s flag in the sand when he assumed a leadership role at the brand back in 2017. Purpose-built around in-house calibres and leveraging original designs with more complex, premium finishing, the Premier was positioned as a more grown-up Breitling and a return to form – a capstone collection of sorts at the top of the brand’s then-newly consolidated offerings. ABTW Managing Editor Bilal Khan called the inaugural Premier “a thoughtful, detail-rich chronograph that exceeded expectations” in his long-term 2019 review right here. This new heritage-inspired spin-off collection appears to continue to adhere to that same formula, albeit with a more classical, mid-century twist that echoes the handsome original Premier watches introduced by Willy Breitling in the 1940s.
Here, we have colorful, beautifully rendered dials (typography nerds will have a lot to appreciate) with applied arabic numerals and a much more traditional approach to chronograph movement execution – perhaps just as Willy Breitling himself would have once wanted it. And yes, that’s indeed a complete calendar in the mix. Indeed, it’s a strikingly intelligent offering and a far cry from the Breitling that many might have once known, but as the brand continues to mature and peel back the many layers of its back catalog, we learn something that Breitling scholars have known all along: before the advent of the jet age, and before sport diving became mainstream, the brand enjoyed a rich period of very elegant, classical chronographs around the middle of the last century that fully embraced watchmaking’s more traditional values.
Regardless of design intent, the modern Breitling watch tends to be more of a sporty expression, so to bring the two value systems of two entirely different eras together, we’ve got slightly upsized cases (40mm for the standard handwound chronograph, and 42mm for the split second & complete calendar variants) and 100 meters of water resistance for each. The latter feature is a particularly interesting development – just how many complete calendar chronographs can you name that have more than a paltry 30 or 50 meters of water resistance? This particular combination of complications is already a relatively rare one (Jaeger-LeCoultre, Parmigiani, Blancpain, and IWC each have something that comes close), but wrapped up here in a beautiful salmon dial and finished with enough water resistance to make this a proper everyday wearer makes this particular reference one hell of an interesting proposition.
While the automatic calibre B25-powered Premier Datora 42 complete calendar (refresher: that’s hour, minute, second, day, date, month, and moonphase) might get most of the spotlight this week, the sneaky show-stealer might be the entry-level Premier B09 Chronograph 40 which pays tribute to the Léon Breitling’s earliest chronographs which pioneered the implementation of a tachymeter scale for measuring speed. A deceptively simple affair clad in a truly gorgeous “Pistachio” green dial, this reference is powered by Breitling’s manufacture B09 handwound chronograph movement, which we’ve seen rolled out in a smattering of offerings thus far, including the 1959 Navitimer re-issue and the AVI ref. 765 re-issue.
The third option in the trio – the B15 Duograph 42 uses Breitling’s B15 manufacture calibre, which is interesting as it’s essentially the B03 split-second chronograph movement, albeit in handwound form. This enables designers to produce a functionally similar watch in a considerably more wearable 42mm package. Like the other two new options in the collection, you’ll have both stainless steel, and precious red gold options to choose from – each with their own unique dial color and color-matched strap.
Models: Premier B09 Chronograph 40 (ref. AB0930D31L1P1 in stainless steel, ref. RB0930371G1P1 in red gold), Premier B15 Duograph 42 (ref. AB1510171C1P1 in stainless steel, ref. RB1510251B1P1 in red gold), Premier B25 Datora 42 (ref. AB2510201K1P1 in stainless steel, ref. RB2510371G1P1 in red gold)
Dimensions: 40 & 42mm
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Case Material: Stainless steel or 18k red gold
Movement: Breitling Calibre B09 (handwound column wheel-actuated chronograph), Breitling Calibre B15 (handwound column wheel-actuated split second chronograph), Breitling Calibre B25 (automatic chronograph with complete calendar)
Power Reserve: 70 hours for B09 and B15 calibres, 48 hours for B25
Strap/Bracelet: Matching alligator with folding clasp
Price & Availability: Premier B09 Chronograph 40: $8,400 ($20,200 in 18k red gold), Premier B15 Duograph 42: $10,250 ($22,850 in 18k red gold), Premier B25 Datora 42: $12,950 ($25,650 in red gold)
Between the six new references, pricing starts at $8,400 for the steel handwound Premier B09 (ref. AB0930D31L1P1) in the vibrant shade of “Pistachio Green,” and covers the full range between before ultimately topping out at $25,650 for the flagship Premier B25 Datora 42 in 18k red gold (ref. RB2510371G1P1). For more information on the new collection, you’re going to want to hustle over to breitling.com.