Gut Reaction Reviews – Introducing the Breitling Premier Heritage Collection Revival With The New Breitling Premier B15 Duograph 42 and Premier B25 Datora 42
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 Heritage Collection. For our other detailed hands-on reviews, please head to our dedicated reviews section here.
When the Premier collection first took roots at the start of the 1940s, the world was grappling with WW2. Now, 80 years later, when the Premier Heritage collection is being (re)launched, the world is grappling with another battle, Covid. Call it chance or sheer brilliance of timing, but trust Breitling to lead the way to introduce some respite, some glamour into the lives of watch connoisseurs globally. Enter the new Breitling Premier Heritage Collection.
Teeing off is the Premier B09 Chronograph 40 (in pistachio green — my favourite out of the entire series of launches — and silver dial). The new Breitling Premier Heritage Collection re-launch actually comprises of three different timepieces, the Premier B15 Duograph 42, Premier B25 Datora 42, and the entry-level Premier B09 Chronograph 40. The latter is what caught my fancy the most simply because the pistachio green coloured steel variant looks divine, and we have reviewed it separately here.
All three sub-collections released feature one stainless steel offering and one 18k red gold version. I reckon this inclusion of both precious and non-precious materials is an excellent marketing stratagem. All models also impressively feature in-house movements, neat and handsome appliqué Arabic numerals, vintage-inspired hands, COSC-certification, decently decorated movements and water-resistance of 100m.
To modify a Christine Feehan quote, the new Breitling Premier Heritage Collection is “temptation wrapped in casual elegance”.
In this review we focus on the Breitling Premier B15 Duograph 42 and Premier B25 Datora 42 models.
Premier B15 Duograph 42
This modern sized — original was 36mm — Duograph comes in either ref. AB1510171C1P1 with a blue dial and a stainless steel case, or the ref. RB1510251B1P1 with a black dial and an 18k red gold case. Out of the two, the latter is my pick as based on the press pictures, it’s the one that offers exceptional legibility and timeless, elegant looks.
The rest of the specifications read the same and both of them are regular production release that features the Breitling Manufacture Caliber B15 (which is based on the Breitling Manufacture Caliber B03).
The Breitling Manufacture Caliber B03 launched in 2017 is a COSC-certified self-winding mechanical movement with ball bearings and a column wheel chronograph beating at the frequency of 4Hz (28’800 A/h). The Breitling Manufacture Caliber B15 is a 30 x 8.68mm hand-winding movement — the main difference between B03 and B15 — that comprises of 47 jewels, beats at the same frequency of 4Hz, and offers an alright 48-hour power reserve. It has previously been used in watches like last year’s Breitling Navitimer B03 Chronograph Rattrapante 45.
In regards to the main complication here, the split-second chronograph or rattrapante, Breitling offers its fans one of the most sophisticated complications in the world of watchmaking. In a nutshell, this complication is designed to measure two elapsed times simultaneously by the use of two superimposed central chronograph hands.
Premier B25 Datora 42
This modern sized — original was 38mm — Datora comes in either ref. AB2510201K1P1 with a copper coloured dial and a stainless steel case, or the ref. RB2510371G1P1 with a silver dial and an 18k red gold case. Out of the two, the former is my pick as based on the press pictures, the latter looks too much like a quintessential Patek (such as Patek Philippe 5270R Perpetual Calendar Chronograph). The rest of the specifications read the same both of them are thankfully a regular production release that features the Breitling Manufacture Caliber B25.
This is the only automatic watch within the new Breitling Premier Heritage Collection. It showcases the following functions on the dial: central hours and minutes, small second’s at 9’o clock, central chronograph second’s hand, day, date, month, chronograph counter, peripheral tachymetre scale, and moon-phase display.
For both the above models, the movement is encased inside a 42mm diameter and 15.35mm thick case with a cambered sapphire crystal on top that is glare-proofed on both sides. Even though it is not a dive watch, it offers 100m water resistance.
Both versions feature the same complications and vintage-inspired Super-LumiNova® luminescent hour and minute hands, along with Arabic numerals. The dressy feel is implemented by the use of semi-shiny alligator straps with tone-on-tone stitching.
Like the B03, the Breitling Manufacture Caliber B25 is again a COSC-certified self-winding mechanical movement with ball bearings and a column wheel, vertical clutch chronograph beating at the frequency of 4Hz (28’800 A/h). It is a 30 x 8.50mm — slightly different than B15 — movement that reads with the same specifications. As far as I know, this is the first time that the B25 is seeing the light of the day.
2018 saw Breitling reintroduce the Premier collection, with the launch of five models: Premier B01 Chronograph 42, Premier Chronograph 42, Premier Automatic 40, Premier Automatic Day & Date 40, and Premier B01 Chronograph 42 Bentley British Racing Green (with the latter being my clear favourite of the lot).
Now three years later, Breitling is enthusing fresh life into its Premier line, revisiting its Heritage collection from the 1940s.
Watches like the 1943 Premier ref. 734 Venus 178 38mm tri-compax and the 1945 Premier ref. 777 Venus 175 38mm bi-compax form as the basis for the perfect revival. But specifically, two iconic timepieces have paved the way for these modern-day versions:
- Premier B15 Duograph 42 – the split-second chronograph, the Duograph, that was launched in early 1944 with the Duograph 1944 ref. 762 Venus 179 36mm
- Premier B25 Datora 42 – it is a mixture of two other watches
- The 1950 Datora ref. 785 VENUS 191 35mm with peripheral date, twin apertures for month and day at 12, and tri-compax chrono
- And the 1945 Datora ref. 799 VENUS 187 35mm with moonphase and date at 12’o clock
Breitling has had an impressive history, and these new models are simply a reflection of the brand’s incredible ability to perfectly sync the past with the present.
The founder’s grandson, Willy Breitling, has a quote from 1940s that perfectly describes the Premier collection:
“When a man puts on his watch, it is the unmistakable stamp of impeccable taste”.
Building on such expectations, Georges Kern masterfully retains the charm of the heritage while bringing in a sense of modernity to this collection. The revival of Breitling’s heritage has been succinctly defined by the press release:
“All three models of the Premier Heritage Collection highlight Breitling’s mastery of timekeeping as it has evolved over the generations”.
Split-second chronographs and calendar/moonphase watches may have been rarer in the 1940s, but today, they are a part of the catalogue of almost all reputable luxury brands.
There are a few notable ones that come to mind which in my opinion best compete with the Breitling offerings:
- Premier B15 Duograph 42: To begin with, watches with the split-second complication are neither cheap nor extremely common. Keeping it within the brand, the first one that comes to mind is the Breitling Navitimer B03 Chronograph Rattrapante 45 in stainless steel with an anthracite dial and on a metal mesh bracelet ref. AB03102A1F1A1 which retails for $16’450 AUD. Then there are other options, starting from the lower end to the higher end of the price spectrum:
- Sinn 910 Anniversary Limited Edition Split Second Chronograph, ($6’000 USD upon its release back in 2016)
- IWC Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Edition “Antoine de Saint Exupery” ref. IW371808 again from 2016 (~€12’400 incl. tax upon release)
- Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Chronor Anniversaire
- Patek Philippe Split Seconds Chronograph 5370
- F.P. Journe Chronographe Monopoussoir Rattrapante Bleu
- F.P. Journe Chronograph Monopoussoir Rattrapante Calibre 1518 (which we went hands-on with recently and you can read about it here)
- Premier B25 Datora 42: To be honest, the clean, relatively clutter-free execution of various complications on the dial of the Breitling versions is somewhat of a rarity. That said, there are a few options there:
- Longines 1832 ref. L4.8220.127.116.11
- Longines Master Collection ref. L2.618.104.22.168
- Baume & Mercier Clifton Full Calendar Moon Phase
- Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Chrono
- Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Chronograph Perpetual Calendar
- Patek Philippe 5372 split-seconds chronograph and perpetual calendar
- IWC Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph in 18-carat 5N ref. IW392101
I personally believe that the stainless steel version should be a market dominator will this release — of course, price pending — given not many steel offerings exist in the market currently, and even if they do, the Breitling Premier B25 Datora 42 is a stunningly exciting timepiece.
I really like the pistachio green coloured dial of the Premier B09 Chronograph 40 and I wished that to separate these watches from other brand’s similar watches, Breitling should have gone for other different colours for the Duograph and Datora instead of featuring widely seen colours like black, blue, silver and copper.
Also, the 15.35mm thick case is a bit on the nose when it comes to pairing this with an evening jacket and shirt cuffs, which is kind of counter-productive as I see these as elegant sports watches that can go from the track to the bar with panache.
That’s All Folks!
Breitling’s Premier B15 Duograph 42 and Premier B25 Datora 42 are both exception releases that kick-off 2021 with a bang for Breitling. Tastefully recreating something iconic from the past can always be a challenge and kudos to the brand for sticking to the foundations and still building a modern-day structure.
The new Breitling Premier Heritage Collection is serious watchmaking served in a dish of aesthetic allure.
To find out more about the new Breitling Premier Heritage Collection 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.