Last year was a time of reflection for the Swiss watchmakers at Breitling. In 2020, at its first ever digital summit, the brand presented updated versions of classics with takes on the 1950s Superocean Heritage and 1980s Chronomat.
This morning, during its virtual summit, Breitling CEO Georges Kern presented the company’s 2021 novelties – all of which focus on the 1940s – with its new six-watch Premier Heritage collection divided into three distinctive categories: The Chronograph, The Duograph, and The Datora.
Breitling’s Premier collection was first presented during World War II, at a time when the brand was busy producing pilot’s watches and instruments for the troops. In contrast, the Premier collection was created to offer civilians an element of elegance during trying times.
The new Breitling Premier Heritage collection stays true to that spirit, yet Breitling managed to avoid reproduction and reinterpret these legendary timepieces. While the case shapes and dial designs pull from archival pieces, the case sizes and colorways couldn’t be more of the moment.
Breitling is all about squad goals. According to Kern, the vision behind the new Premier Heritage collection goes back way before the 1940s. Specifically, Kern cites the leadership qualities found in the members of the Founders Squad as the inspiration.
The Founders Squad – comprising three generations of men who made Breitling what it is today – includes Léon Breitling, who founded the company in 1884 and patented a simple timer/tachymeter capable of measuring any speed between 15 and 150 km/h. Léon’s son Gaston who, in 1915, created one of the first wrist-worn chronographs with an independent pusher at 2 o’clock. And Léon’s grandson Willy who patented the second independent chronograph pusher at 4 o’clock in 1934.
It was under Willy’s watch that the Premier collection debuted. Willy Breitling saw that customers wanted a touch of elegance and glamour, and this inspired him to design a wristwatch that matched purpose with style. As Willy once said, “When a man puts on his watch, it is the unmistakable stamp of impeccable taste.”Breitling Premier B09 Chronograph 40
And in keeping with that sentiment, all of the new Premier Heritage collection timepieces feature refined design elements such as Arabic numerals, vintage-inspired hands, and semi-shiny alligator straps with tone-on-tone stitching. Also, every watch in the new family is a COSC-certified chronometer and water-resistant up to 100 meters. Breitling Premier B15 Duograph 42
But the 40mm Premier Heritage Chronographs come with an attention-grabbing pistachio-green dial housed in stainless steel or a stately silver-colored dial encased in 18-karat red gold. These hues offer a bold style statement without altering the essential DNA of the Premier. Breitling Premier B25 Datora 42
Both are powered by the Breitling Manufacture Caliber B09, which is based on the Breitling Manufacture Caliber 01. Having this hand-wound mechanism as the backbone of the watch is akin to the expert tailoring behind a fine Italian suit.
Premier is, of course, the French word for “first.” The Duograph, which launched in 1944, introduced the split-second complication to Breitling’s chronographs. Likewise, the new Premier Heritage Duograph offers a rattrapante function – one of the most detailed in watchmaking – that allows the wearer to measure two elapsed times simultaneously thanks to its two superimposed chronograph hands.
The hand-wound Breitling Manufacture Caliber B15 inside the Premier Heritage Duograph is based on the Breitling Manufacture Caliber B03 and pays homage to the original Duograph mechanism. While the movement is complicated, the look of the watch is more understated. These 42mm watches are available in stainless-steel with a blue dial or 18-karat red gold with a black dial.
The display is straightforward, and its Super-LumiNova luminesced hour and minute hands make it easy to read. Moreover, the new Premier Heritage Duograph retains the luxurious feeling of the original thanks to details like applied numerals, a cambered sapphire crystal, and alligator leather straps in either black or brown.
Like its 1940s predecessor, the 42mm Premier Heritage Datora also stands out for its highly visible and complex functions, namely its day, date, and moon-phase displays. Furthermore, it is powered by the self-winding Manufacture Caliber B25, which is the lone automatic in the Premier Heritage collection. The Premier Heritage Datora also has a distinguished copper-colored dial variant framed in stainless-steel or a silver-colored dial iteration surrounded by 18-karat red gold.
On an aesthetic level, the contrast between warm and cool tones provides a lot of presence (I am especially fond of the copper and steel combo). And while the “Datora” moniker traditionally refers to pieces with a day/date display, personally, I’m in the go big date or go home camp when it comes to this feature. And a slightly more generous moon phase aperture would also be nice. But overall, the smaller windows on this version of the Datora feel right, considering everything included on its dial.
In a press release, Kern said of these colorful chronos, “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.