Sunday Morning Showdown: Green Chronographs — Breitling Premier B09 Vs. Omega Speedmaster ’57
Sunday Morning Showdown is a thought piece for our writers to duke out over one, two, or more watches. After a year of tight fights and epic wins, the Showdown series enters the last few rounds of 2022. As the growing grudge match of opposing opinions shifts into the holiday season, our writers share some fitting and festive pieces. Namely, the color green is the immediate leveler between our two combatants today. Although, as you’ll see, the green giants share more than the festive hue between them. The Breitling Premier B09 Chronograph 40 with pistachio-green dial and Omega Speedmaster ’57 with its holly-leaf sheen square up with in-house-developed, hand-winding chronograph calibers. Which one takes home the prize, and which one leaves with a lump of coal? You decide!
It’s always serendipitous when watch brands seemingly arrive at similar executions despite approaching watchmaking from various avenues. Breitling’s Premier line hails from the ’40s and ’50s, whereas Omega’s Speedmaster began life in 1957 with the CK2915. Over the decades, their design, construction, manufacturing, development, and innovation have evolved into today’s latest offerings. Yet, placing these watches side by side, you would assume both brands were in cahoots with each other to establish the pinnacle of hand-winding chronograph wristwatches. This assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. It just happens that each manufacturer arrives at coincidental conclusions to perfecting an over-100-year-old concept. However, these comparisons lie on the surface. Allow our writers to dive deep into the details and discover the differences.
A two-handed battle
Before we commence today’s verdant venture, let’s look back to last week’s Showdown. Well, we had another ding-dong battle and a close result. Two weeks in a row, the winning Showdown watch edges the votes by 52%. This time, it was the Breguet Classique 5157 that squeezed out the victory over the A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Thin. Some of the comments in favor of the Breguet demonstrate what makes the Classique 5157 stand out:
“For me, it would be the Breguet. It has a great sense of style and design. In comparison, the ALS is painfully boring.” — Cru Jones
“Clearly prefer the Breguet, the design is timeless, outstanding – everything fits perfect. And it shows the unbeatable tradition of the originals done by A. L. Breguet.” — MRI2013
With the dust settling from last week, it’s time to move on to today’s battle of green chronographs.
Ben: Breitling Premier B09 Chronograph 40
In April 2021, Breitling CEO Georges Kern unveiled the Premier Heritage models in a starring role. Assuming the part of his vintage self, Kern conversed with Breitling’s ancestral leaders, Léon, Gaston, and Willy Breitling. Of course, this is only possible via digital recreations, and each former leader’s opinion of the collection follows a script. Even so, I agreed with the forebears that the new Premier lineup captures that vintage flair in a modern guise. The signature grooves on the case sides evoke the original Premier watches from the 1940s yet remain sleek and relevant. It only goes to show how innovative the early Breitling chronographs were. At the entry point of the range is the Premier B09 with a 40mm stainless steel case, manual-wind chronograph movement, twin pushers, and twin registers within a pistachio-green dial.
The in-house B09 chronometer-grade movement piques my interest with this watch. The movement is the hand-winding version of the Breitling Manufacturer B01 that first powered the Chronomat in 2009. The investment into the B01’s development and production was enormous, yet the caliber’s implementation across the Breitling catalog pays dividends. The B09 is proof of this by slimming down the caliber for more form-fitting heritage-inspired Breitling watches. This movement still features 70 hours of power reserve and ticks at 28,800vph. While the B09 provided three counters in its first guise, the Navitimer Ref. 806 1959 Re-Edition, the dial of the Premier B09 Chronograph 40 provides a 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock and running seconds at 9 o’clock.
Nuts about pistachio
The Premier has lovely vintage touches, including the Art Deco grooves on the case band, rectangular pushers, and heritage-style syringe hands. Yet, the pistachio-green dial throws any “fauxtina” claims out the window. While it was bold to select its entry-level option to have the wildest dial color, Breitling showcases its modern charm. This piece may reference a long line of Premier watches, but the B09 Chronograph 40 cuts a contemporary chic style all on its own. Even with the might of manufacturing forces behind it, including the COSC certification, the dial text is minimal in presenting only the brand, function, and model name without a disruptive date window. The Premier B09 strikes a delicate balance between vintage inspiration and modern flair.
Regarding wearability, this Premier model is a delightfully neat package. And the claimed 40mm diameter feels 40mm on the wrist. It’s strange to say, but the dimensions on the specs sheet are often deceptively different from real-world expectations. Though the short drooping lugs do require curved spring bars and strap ends, they contour and hug the wrist for a compact experience. The Breitling Premier B09 is a striking yet historically significant chronograph for €8,000. Over to RJ with the new Speedmaster ’57.
RJ: Omega Speedmaster ’57
By sheer coincidence, I was a guest speaker at a Breitling event last Tuesday, together with Breitling’s heritage advisor Fred Mandelbaum. We touched upon the heritage of the Breitling Premier quite a bit as we also covered the new Premier Tourbillon watches. Fred Mandelbaum, one of the world’s biggest Breitling collectors, brought quite a few vintage Breitling Premier watches. And I have to say that I was very impressed by those first 1940s Breitling Premier models. They looked sophisticated, especially those with rattrapante chronographs and calendars. And not only that, but they also looked refined.
But that word doesn’t come to mind when I look at the modern Premier watches. Modern watches suffer from a lack of being refined anyway, but in the case of Breitling, it makes the modern Premier fail to look like those vintage Premier models. Instead, it could have had any name on the dial (Baume & Mercier or IWC come to mind). It simply lacks the true Breitling DNA for me. It’s something that the Breitling Chronomat and Navitimer do have, but not this collection. Slimming down the lugs would definitely help the Premier.
The 2022 Speedmaster ’57 in green
Anyway, let’s talk about the Speedmaster ’57. When the Speedmaster ’57 collection first came out in 2013 with its two registers and Broad Arrow influences, I wasn’t immediately smitten. At 16.17mm thick, the watches were too chunky, and despite being “only” 41.5mm in diameter, they wore larger than the 42mm Moonwatch.
Slimming it down
This year, Omega updated the entire collection with a slimmed-down version of the Speedmaster ’57. It measures 40.5mm in diameter and 12.99mm in thickness, which isn’t too bad for a modern sports chronograph.
Four variations of the Speedmaster ’57
Omega introduced four different models — one black (sandwich) dial with its fair share of faux patina and three other versions in red, blue, and green. These last three don’t have any faux patina or a sandwich dial. Earlier this year, I wrote a hands-on review of the blue version (on a strap), and I found myself wearing this loaner from Omega quite a bit. The 40.5mm diameter makes it easy to wear, and the colorful dials are a welcome change from the standard black Speedmaster dials. The original Speedmaster from 1957 measured 38.6mm (and he later straight-lug Speedmasters, 39.6mm), so it’s not that far off.
Like the Breitling B09, the Omega caliber 9906 is a hand-wound version of an automatic movement (caliber 9900). It enabled Omega to keep the watch quite a bit thinner than its predecessor, but it is also a nod to the heritage of the Speedmaster.
Caliber 9906 is a column-wheel chronograph with a Master Chronometer certification. It has a Co-Axial escapement, a silicon balance spring, and is highly anti-magnetic (>15,000 gauss). Just a chronometer certification is not enough for Omega anymore. A normal chronometer certification is performed only on the movement with a dummy dial and plastic crown. After this testing and certification, the movements are shipped back to the watch manufacturer, who then cases them up, and that’s that.
The Master Chronometer certification is performed on a complete watch, not just the movement. And the testing program is much more enhanced. It includes tests for anti-magnetism, shock, and power reserve, as well as stricter requirements for the watch’s average deviation. Whereas chronometer certification is -4/+6 seconds per day on average, certified Master Chronometers perform between 0 and +5 seconds per day on average. This means no watches that run slow. I like the aesthetics of the movement, the large main plate with its decorative Côtes de Gèneve in Arabesque, but to some, it might be hiding too much of the mechanism.
But although a watch can be technically advanced, in the end, it’s about how it looks. And that’s just a very personal thing. As you might know, I am a Speedmaster collector, not because of the Moon story, but because I like the aesthetics of the watch. While I preferred the 42mm asymmetrical case with lyre lugs for a long time, my appreciation for the straight-lug Speedmaster has increased over the last few years. The Speedmaster ’57 is a straight-lug model, just like the original Speedmaster and the current Speedmaster Calibre 321 model in steel. It wears more elegantly than the 42mm Moonwatch, and you can dress it up, especially with a strap. It doesn’t come cheap, though. Whereas the regular Moonwatch retails for €7,100, the Speedmaster ’57 on a leather strap has a €9,300 price tag (€9,700 for the version on a stainless steel bracelet).
Which would you rather have? Vote for your favorite below, and tell us what drove your decision in the comments.