Breitling is a company making serious moves in the watch world in 2018. Under the stewardship of new CEO Georges Kern and a revitalised management team, the iconic pilots watch manufacturer has pivoted from a reasonably niche brand to a reinvigorated global player.
A year since dusting off the chalkboard and starting afresh, Kern and his crack team have radically altered Breitling's image, pushed for a much larger presence in the Asian market and made life a bit simpler for the brand's supporters by losing some of the quantity of watch models available in a new-look line up of quality timepieces.
Now, Breitling is reintroducing one of its all-time most popular watch collections – and perhaps its current best seller on the vintage market – the Premier collection. Here's everything you need to know…
Changing the game
In October 1933, Breitling applied for a patent for the world’s first chronograph movement operated by two separate pushers — one to start and stop the chronograph, and another to reset it. It might not have seemed it at the time, but this action has deeply impacted the way the modern chronograph looks and is operated today. In fact, almost every chronograph since follows this configuration.
Plenty of Breitling models would go on to feature this new design, but it wasn’t until the highly influential ref. 734 appeared in 1939 that Breitling had itself a model that would prove to be lasting — not least, because it’s offspring, the Premier collection, would go on to be one of Breitling’s most iconic designs in its illustrious history.
The 'pre-Premier' Reference 734 and the later Premier Reference 765 were produced throughout the 1940s, and remain two of the most coveted vintage Breitling watches available. Their well-proportioned cases, large sub-registers and the stamp of Breitling’s elegant cursive script are attractive features to collectors and Breitling fans alike — and it’s no surprise to see these vintage hallmarks come to the fore in the reprisal of this collection, set to hit boutiques in 2019.
The new-look Premier collection
The new Premier collection (two chronographs, an automatic and a day-date) show an obvious throwback to the 734 and 765 references, with a couple of subtle allowances for modern tastes. The numerals have made way for more minimal applied baton markers, a date function has been added, and the syringe hands are now a softer speedometer style.
Elsewhere, the tachymeter featured on the outer chapter ring is given a different colour to the rest of the dial to give the piece an elegant frame. For example, the Premier BO1 Chronograph features a silver dial with an elegant black tachymeter; a masterclass in monochromatic luxury.
What does remain from the original design, however, is the beautiful lugs, visible bevels and the neat and tidy square pushers on the chronograph models. It’s a timeless design, plucked from Breitling’s extensive archives but still incredibly relevant for today’s watch tastes.
The creation of an automatic and day-date watches will no doubt excite fans looking for something a little bit different from the chronograph models. The automatic in particular takes the understated elegance of the original Premier models and adds a new level of minimalism, with a stylish seconds subdial.
We'll put it this way: this collection is going to go down a storm.
Bentley and Breitling join forces
Breitling and Bentley have collaborated on a number of projects since the Swiss watch brand first designed the onboard clock for the Continental GT in 2002, but the new Breitling Premier BO1 Chronograph Bentley Racing Green is the best piece to come out of the partnership yet – and the timing couldn't be better with the British car manufacturer's centenary just around the corner in 2019.
The watch itself shares many of Premier BO1's features, but comes with a vivid racing green dial. The left side of the case is also engraved with the Bentley name as a nod to the dashboard of the supercharged 1929 “Blower” Bentley, while the see-through caseback includes a Bentley logo.
Prices start from £3,600. For more information, see breitling.com