For years, Breitling has been known for profoundly masculine tool watches featuring dials packed with so much information that only a close squint could allow one to discern the details. But look back at the brand’s early days and you may be surprised to learn that it had a collection that focused on elegance and simplicity: the Premier. Now, more than 70 years later, those days are making a comeback in a completely refreshed line.
The new Breitling Premier collection introduces five distinct models in four references: time only, day and date, and two versions of chronographs. What ties them all together is a new streamlined design loosely based on the collection from 1943. The watches feature applied baton indexes and hands, a sloping flange for the minute track, cambered sapphire crystals, and polished and brushed lugs. They are also offered on a new bracelet that uses slimmer versions of Breitling’s trademark slanted links.
The Calibre B01 was Breitling’s first in-house movement and one that remains beloved by chronograph enthusiasts even after a decade. So it stands to reason that the flagship model of the new collection is the Premier B01 Chronograph 42. It is the only watch in the range with an exhibition caseback, so wearers can admire the COSC-certified, column wheel and vertical clutch-equipped movement in action – for 70 hours straight if they so wish. The movement’s finishing, while done by machine, is extensive.
The 42mm stainless steel chronograph is available with either a dark blue or silver dial, both with contrasting black subdials at 3 and 9 o’clock – a feature that distinguishes Breitling watches that house manufacture movements. The latter “panda” model is also the only reference without a radially brushed dial, showing off instead a finely grained surface.
The Premier B01 Chronograph was also chosen to celebrate the watchmaker’s long-standing partnership with Bentley Motors, as seen in the special edition Bentley British Racing Green model with its striking green dial and matching leather strap.
A little more dial busyness can be found on the Breitling Premier Chronograph 42. Identical in size to the Premier B01, the immediate difference in this Breitling Calibre 13 (Valjoux 7750)-powered chronograph is the addition of a seconds subdial at 9 o’clock and white tachymeter scale. The subdials share the colour of the watch face – blue or black – which helps with legibility. It is offered with an alligator or nubuck leather strap, or stainless steel bracelet.
Continuing in the less-is-more theme is the Premier Automatic Day & Date 40. Its form and function are as straightforward as its name. The day and date are displayed through framed windows at 12 and 6 o’clock respectively. Because of a slightly smaller case size of 40mm and rose gold hands (unique in the Premier collection), the Premier Automatic Day & Date 40 models make natural dress watches. Power comes from the Calibre 45 (ETA 2824), a self-winding chronometer movement with 38 hours of reserve power. It has either a silver or black dial.
And for those who would like nothing but the time, the Premier Automatic 40 comes the closest to the collection’s 1940s roots. With only a seconds subdial at 6 o’clock, it leaves the eye free to admire the subtle details, like the new vintage-inspired, wingless “B” logo at 12 o’clock, the grooves on the sides of the case and the metallic blue, silver or anthracite dial.
Swerving towards just the right amount of restrained style, the Breitling Premier offers something its wildly popular Navitimer and Superocean families don’t. “This is the first modern Breitling collection dedicated to everyday elegance,” says Georges Kern, who has been steadily updating the brand’s strategy since he joined the company in 2017. “With outstanding quality and performance, these watches bear our DNA, but they have been created with a focus on style that beautifully complements their purpose.”
To view more watches from the Breitling Premier collection, click here.
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