Gut Reaction Reviews – Introducing the Breitling Premier Heritage Collection Rebirth With The New Breitling Premier B09 Chronograph 40
Editor’s note: Like you, we are also excited for the releases from the Watches & Wonders 2021. Before we get to dive deep into the releases and go hands-on with as many of these as the two of us here can, here’s our preview and the Gut Reaction Review (Grr…) of the new Breitling Premier B09 Chronograph 40. For our other detailed hands-on reviews, please head to our dedicated reviews section here.
Until recently life was relatively simple. Omega meant limited editions, planes meant international travel, Patek meant Nautilus 5711, masks meant surgical theatres, and Breitling ruled the skies. Now I can’t find my bearing: Omega’s 2021 Seamaster 300 are all regular production releases, planes mean being grounded, Patek has discontinued the 5711, masks are everywhere; and while Breitling still rules the skies with the Navitimer, it went ahead and changed the status quo.
Meet the new Breitling Premier B09 Chronograph 40. It re-defines simplistic, timeless watches.
My first reaction on seeing the images of the new Breitling Premier B09 Chronograph 40 released as part of the bigger Breitling Premier Heritage Collection re-launch was that IWC called, and wants its watches back. The reaction came as no surprise to me either, given Georges Kern has had an extensive career at IWC. And just when I was going to dismiss these as just another release, the rather unique pistachio green dial of the stainless steel version caught my eye.
Impressed by the colour at first, I decided to look further into them. I had remembered that Breitling did have a historical reference that may have borne the same design aesthetics as the new Premier B09 Chronograph 40 and that perhaps the IWC similarity is per-chance. And I am glad I dug deeper, because these new watches stand tall and independent on the foundations laid by some pretty revolutionary Breitling watches from the 1940s (and more on that in a bit).
That mesmerising pistachio dial may be the aesthetic star of the show, but the new Breitling Premier B09 Chronograph 40 is a hell of an amazing package that can’t be ignored by anyone interested in horology:
- in-house movement
- true-Breitling heritage-inspired pieces — so thankfully no fauxtina or not creating out of thin air an entirely new collection with no historical relevance to the brand
- column-wheel, vertical clutch chronographs
- manual-winding (I love the connection and personal touch between human and watches)
- Decently decorated movements displayed through case-back
- pristine dials with beautiful azurage counters
- water-resistance of 100m
So what happens when a brand more known for aviation-themed timepieces decides to revisit the inventive spirit of its founders?
The new Breitling Premier B09 Chronograph 40 scores most as a complete package deal and I reckon these are best suited for those looking at adding a handsome dress chronograph to their collection, one that’s got flair and style.
Before we go any further, it is worthwhile to note that the new Breitling Premier Heritage Collection re-launch actually comprises of three different timepieces, the Premier B15 Duograph 42, Premier B25 Datora 42, and this entry-level Breitling Premier B09 Chronograph 40. We have covered the former two watches in a separate review here.
Coming back to the watches in hand, Watches & Wonders 2021 presents the new Breitling Premier B09 Chronograph 40 in two variations: ref. AB0930D31L1P1 with a pistachio green dial and a stainless steel case, and the ref. RB0930371G1P1 with a silver dial and an 18k red gold case. The rest of the specifications read the same both of them. They are also thankfully a regular production release that features the Breitling Manufacture Caliber B09.
This 30 x 6.73mm manual-winding mechanical movement comprises of 47 jewels, beats at the standard frequency of 4Hz, and offers an impressive 70-hour power reserve. It is based on their calibre B01 and has previously been used mostly in limited-edition run pieces like the AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition and Navitimer Ref. 806 1959 Re-Edition.
Here’s an interesting bit of trivia for enthusiasts: Tudor’s MT5813 found in their chronograph offerings (including the popular Heritage Black Bay Chronograph S&G) is either based on or derived from this Breitling caliber.
The movement is encased inside a daily wearable 40mm diameter and 13.08mm thick case with a cambered sapphire crystal on top that is glare-proofed on both sides.
Both versions feature the same complications and vintage-inspired Super-LumiNova® luminescent hour and minute hands, along with Arabic numerals. The dressy feel is complemented by the use of semi-shiny alligator straps with tone-on-tone stitching.
In 1923, Gaston Breitling gave the world the first chronograph with two pushers, a revolutionary design that would forever change how most modern-day chronos would look like. But Breitling’s tryst with horological destiny began way earlier when Léon Breitling patented a simple timer/tachymeter for a pocket watch in 1906. The next chapter in this story occurred in 1915 when Gaston Breitling created one of the first wrist-worn chronographs with an independent pusher, followed by the 1923 invention mentioned above.
Continuing the family legacy, Willy Breitling, Léon’s grandson, in 1934 patented the second independent chronograph pusher (this time at 4’o clock).
Then in 1943, the Breitling Premier Collection was launched as a series of serious yet practical chronographs, watches that combine elegance and glamour with practicality.
Watches like the 1943 Premier ref. 760 Venus 175 36mm and 1945 Premier ref. 777 Venus 175 38mm, both with their bi-compax layout, set as the perfect roots for the new Premier B09 Chronograph 40.
“Elegance is the only beauty that never fades,” said Audrey Hepburn.
Essentially the new Breitling Premier Heritage Collection has been in the making for over a hundred years. All this legacy encased inside a compact case of the new Breitling Premier B09 Chronograph 40, and now yours for the taking.
Georges Kern talks about this new release describing it as a timelessly elegant new collection:
“This heritage-inspired design with a stylish modern twist embodies some of Breitling’s most famous innovations, and revives Breitling’s legacy of inventing the modern chronograph. This truly is our heritage revived”.
From IWC to Patek Philippe, there are options abound. There is honestly no dearth of dressy chronographs, and IWC has made a living out of these.
Then there are other dress chronograph offerings, with very entry-level ones like the Dan Henry 1937 to rather high-end ones like the A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Chronograph, with options like the Junghans Max Bill Chronoscope, Frederique Constant Flyback Manufacture, some TAG Heuer Carreras, Cartier Rotonde Chronograph, Vacheron Constantin Historiques Cornes De Vache 1955, Patek Philippe 5170R-010, and lots of others thrown into the mix for good measure. And if you add to this growing list timepieces with calendar and moonphase complications, there will be no stoppage.
I reckon the factor which will best decide the commercial success of the new Breitling Premier Heritage Collection will be the pricing of these watches (the press release did not have the retail prices so I can not comment as of yet). If these are primarily competitively priced against say the Portugieser range, I reckon they should do well.
Also, since again the press release doesn’t state the lug-to-lug, it would be hard to see how these beat the competition. Hands-on reviews would have been useful here. Legibility of the pieces again is something that may be questionable under different lighting conditions and that’s something only a hands-on will reveal.
Even though these are reminiscent of the dial layout of the 1945 Premier ref. 777 Venus 175 38mm, I am not a fan of half-eaten-into numerals, that are presented here as chewed-in 2,4,8 and 10. That said, these are still better than the half-hearted attempt many brands do where the 3 is cut-in by a date window. At least here there is symmetry in the execution which I nonetheless appreciate from a design perspective.
That’s All Folks!
Allow me to finish with a trivia: What do the movies Citizen Kane (1941), The Pride of the Yankees (1942), and Casablanca (1943), and Covid-19 (2020/21) have in common?
Answer: The Breitling Premier Collection
These iconic movies were an escape from tremulous times, and so is the new Breitling Premier Heritage Collection (coincidentally based on designs from the same era).
“Simplicity is the soul of modern elegance,” said the American fashion designer Bill Blass. From the inherent simplicity of the dials and the refined applied Arabic indices to the mesmerising green dial, the new Breitling Premier B09 Chronograph 40 is a timepiece that would have fit the JazzAge era of the Great Gatsby predating the originals’ release just as easily as it would sit on the wrists on the modern-day gentleman of impeccable taste and character.
To find out more about the new Breitling Premier B09 Chronograph 40 and other watches, please head to their website here. All images unless otherwise specified are Copyright © Breitling. Make sure to check out our reviews of other Watches & Wonders 2021 releases here.