The Breitling Premier Heritage Chronograph Tag Team Bust-Up
In our Sunday Morning Showdown, two of our writers go head-to-head in an epic showdown for the ages. Strong opinions and hysterical hyperbole are welcome (so feel free to join in with the fun in the comments section below). And don’t forget to let us know which watches you’d like to see torn to shreds/effusively exalted next week. We’ll try and feature as many of our readers’ choices as we can. This time out, we have not one, not two, not three, but FOUR brand new Breitling Premier Heritage chronographs in the showdown arena. Each watch will be vying for your vote, but not as individuals. Instead, today’s showdown is a tag-team brawl where two watches on one team need most of the voting share to claim victory. Who will succeed? You decide.
Sunday Morning Showdown began as a thought piece for our writers to duke it out over a single watch model. What started as a way to provide that easy Sunday morning reading became a grudge match of opposing opinions. The format grew from assessing one watch to giving the choice of two watches. The A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk in white and honey gold was the first showdown to offer the selection of two timepieces. But it wasn’t until the first part of the GMT Wars between the Rolex Explorer II and Grand Seiko SBGN005 that the format hit its stride. What remained was the necessity of two opinionated writers stating their case for their chosen watch. This Showdown series inspired the Speedmaster World Cup and March Mania tournaments that many of our readers got involved in.
Tag Team Showdown
After a year of tight fights and epic wins, the Showdown series evolves to the next level. As mentioned in the introduction, today’s battle is a tag team tussle. Each writer selects two watches to take into the fray. But this time, the victor is not the single watch with the most votes. Instead, the writer must carefully choose TWO watches to maximize the voting count. We can only crown a winner who has chosen two watches that comprise the majority voting share when totalized. This leaves the battle wide open with a higher chance of a back and forth race to the finish line. We may also end up with a tie, even if one watch model dominates the votes. There’s no better way to kick this format off than with the new Breitling Premier Heritage collection.
What was once old is new again
This new Premier Heritage collection is the perfect showcase for our tag team showdown, as Breitling bestowed a plethora of new models for our writers to choose from. In the April summit, CEO Georges Kern peculiarly unveiled the models. 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 new Premier Heritage collection was heavily scripted. Even so, I must agree with the forebears that the seven new chronographs capture 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.
The seven watches in contention comprise four styles in either stainless steel or red gold with various colors. Starting with the least complicated, the Premier B09 is the only 40mm model with a manual-winding chronograph, twin pushers, and twin registers. The Premier B15 Duograph shares the dial layout of the B09 but takes it up to 42mm. The Duograph now incorporates the split-second functionality. The additional pusher on the crown demonstrates this, along with the two overlapping chronograph seconds hands. Moving up in the world of complications is the Premier Datora. The Datora is the first of the self-winding movements and features a four-year full calendar display and the base chronograph. Unlike the previous two, the Datora is powered by an outsourced movement. Namely, the Swiss Concepto 2000-RAC caliber that is embellished by Breitling with a new rotor design and sent to COSC for chronometer certification.
Taking a giant leap is the final Premier Heritage model. It was seldom mentioned in the press release, but Breitling also released the 25-piece limited edition Premier Tourbillon for Bentley edition. While still keeping within the 42mm case, the Breitling for Bentley is an outspoken watch with a deep green dial and exuberant Tourbillon escapement aperture. As with the Datora, the B21 is not an in-house Breitling caliber but is instead based on the ETA 7751 with the addition of the Tourbillon in a red gold case.
The Orange Olympics
Before we let our writers choose from the seven watches on the bench, let’s revert to last week. Jorg and Ben went tit-for-tat over luxury sports chronographs. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Diver Chronograph and Patek Philippe Aquanaut Chronograph feature prominent orange accents and matching rubber straps. The fight was tight, the battle was hard, but only one watch could emerge as the victor. Even with the high price gap, the Aquanaut Chronograph took the win with 72% of the reader’s votes. With four watches in a tag team showdown today, will we see an uprising from Ben? Only you decide, so make your votes count, and your voices heard! Don’t forget that you can only vote once, but your choice must be on the winning team, so get your friends and family involved.
Pick of the bunch
Now is the turn of our writers to select from the Breitling Premier Heritage bench. As Ben lost the last round, we’re letting him pick the first Premier.
Ben: I am a sucker for blue dials, especially the particular blue that emanates from Breitling dials. In that case, my first pick is the Premier B15 Duograph Rattrapante in stainless steel and blue dial.
Jorg: If you’re taking the blue Duograph, I will counteract with the red gold Duograph with a black dial that I know you love dearly. There is something magical about the combination of red gold and black with a classically styled silhouette. When Breitling released all seven Premier Heritage watches, this was the immediate winner for me.
Ben: You’re right; the red gold Duograph is my favorite of the entire Premier Heritage collection. But as this is a competition, I feel I stand a better chance with the blue dial steel version. Even still, for my next choice, I choose the red gold Datora with a creamy dial. This was the unsung hero in the collection, but I am hoping I can make it sing. For me, it’s the red gold Datora’s cream dial that perfectly accentuates the blue moon-phase disc.
Jorg: For my final pick, I am also going for the Datora but in the stainless steel case, and in my mind, the most talked-about dial color from the collection — salmon. In a sea of recently introduced green dials, this salmon dial Datora feels like a breath of fresh air.
Ben: Well, neither of us went for the pistachio B09 piece, but I agree, the salmon/gold-toned dial was seriously eye-catching.
With the choices set and the remaining three watches benched, for the time being, it’s time to start the inaugural Sunday Morning Showdown Tag Team Special.
Ben’s first watch — Breitling Premier B15 Duograph 42 Rattrapante in blue/steel
As I’m first up with the Duograph, it’s worth getting our readers up to speed on what makes it a split-second chronograph. With the additional central chronograph hand, you can time two independent events simultaneously for up to 60-seconds — for instance, two horses in a one-lap race. You start the chronograph as you would with the pusher at two o’clock. As one horse completes the lap, you press the pusher integrated within the crown. In the case of the Duograph, the crown pusher stops the hand with the alpha-shaped counterbalance.
As the second horse continues the lap, you then stop the circular counterbalance hand with the pusher at 2 o’clock. With the hands paused in their relative positions, you now have the split difference between the horses’ lap times. Another fun feature is to record the laps of a single-car over a specific duration. Like the two-horse analogy above, you can start the chronograph and stop one hand with the crown pusher as the car goes over the start/finish line. But you then have enough time to record that lap on a clipboard with the other seconds hand still ticking. Re-pressing the crown pusher lets the hand catch up with the other hand without losing any measurements of the subsequent lap. Repeating the process not only gives you the individual lap times but the entire race duration up to 30-minutes.
Cool blue two-timer
There are many more use case examples with a Rattrapante, and that’s where the appeal is. Split seconds elapsed timing opens up a whole new world of possibilities. But with this functionality comes complexity. Rattrapante calibers are typically more complicated to produce than the chronograph we all know and love. For the Duograph, Breitling uses the caliber B15, which is essentially the manually-wound version of the in-house automatic B03. Removing the self-winding rotor provides an unimpeded view of the bridges, gears, and clutches via the sapphire case-back and a slightly thinner mechanism. Saying that, with the boxy sapphire crystal on the front side of the case, the Duograph is overall a girthy watch with a thickness of 15.3mm.
Split seconds elapsed timing opens up a whole new world of possibilities.
In the steel case with a blue dial, the first watch in my tag team is a belter. The vintage charm of the Arabic numeral layout with the flowing “B” logo evokes its ’40s inspiration. But the steel Duograph also cuts a contemporary look with an icy cool attitude alongside the cushion pushers, groovy case sides, and lumed hands. The gold watch that Jorg chose may hold a place in my heart but goes straight for the old-school appeal. Not only that but the prices almost double from €9,350 for the steel to €19,200 for red gold. An in-house split-seconds chronograph from a significant Swiss player under €10k is a marvel in the current market.
Jorg’s first watch — Breitling Premier Datora 42 in salmon/steel
Before I lay out my feelings on the red gold Duograph, the first watch that enters the ring in my corner will be the steel Datora with salmon dial. The watch is the most complicated, as the Tourbillon is not a complication per se, out of all the pieces in the Premier collection. Its heritage dates back to the 1940s Datora reference 799 that Breitling produced from 1947 to 1951 in either steel or gold. Inspired by this early reference, this new version features the same functionalities and adds great vintage-inspired looks with all the perks of a modern watch. The watch features a 42mm case that is a substantial 15.35mm thick.
The watch has a standard chronograph with running seconds, and 30-minute counter, and a full calendar. The sub-register at 6 o’clock features both a moon phase and a date indicator. The day and month apertures are positioned right underneath the 12 o’clock marker. This is all made possible by the Breitling Caliber B25, which is Breitling’s name for the Swiss Concepto 2000-RAC caliber. Breitling provided Concepto with a series of guidelines and features to be integrated into the movement. The main focus point was an improved calendar mechanism to increase accuracy and reliability. Additionally, the movement sees a detailed finish and a new design for the oscillating weight to make it attractive to look at through the display case-back.
Although the movement looks pleasing, the true star of the show is the salmon dial. This beautiful dial turns out to be the perfect canvas for the complications of the Premier Datora 42.
The golden combo of steel and salmon
There is something special about seeing a watch with a salmon dial. The look is incredibly stylish and is friendly to the eyes due to its soft overall tone. But in all its grace, it also demands respect as it has a majestic feel to it. Combine it with a classic silhouette, and it has an instant vintage aesthetic. But it doesn’t mean you don’t need to create an excellent dial design to achieve its potential. And that’s precisely what Breitling has achieved. Despite all the different functions, the dial never seems cluttered. All the elements are placed neatly on the dial, making it feel perfectly balanced. Even the oversized cut-off numerals — something I’m usually not a fan of — feel completely in balance with the rest of the elements on the dial. In combination with the salmon color, it oozes vintage class.
The early salmon dials were created to match the gold cases.
The term “salmon dial” is actually a collective name given to dials that go from a rose gold hue to a much brighter pink color. The guys at A Collected Man wrote an in-depth piece on the history of salmon dials. In it, you can read that it is commonly thought that the first rose gold “salmon” dials were created to match the gold cases. But it’s the combination of a white metal case with a salmon dial that creates a unique visual contrast and is much loved by watch enthusiasts. Like many brands, Breitling stays away from the term salmon dial and calls this dial copper. Whatever you prefer to call it, this steel salmon Datora 42 is the better option at €11,350 over Ben’s €22,200 red gold version.
Ben’s second watch —Breitling Premier Datora 42 in silver/red gold
Hold your horses there, Jorg. While I am with you on the dial layout, impressive movement, and decorative moon-phase disc, steel and salmon are not where the watch truly shines. With such an opulent design with flourishes usually reserved for the higher-end of the Swiss watch market, it’s worth stretching a few extra doubloons for the red gold Datora. Instead of a punchy copper tone, my choice of Datora allows the metal to take center stage. Breitling dials the color back to a creamy tone that complements the flashes of deep blue to offset the case hue. You can genuinely see the lineage from the early reference to the modern watch we have here in this configuration.
Many assumed that Breitling is simply riffing off the Holy Trinity’s calendar watches.
It’s easy to make parallels of this model to classic watch styles of the Holy Trinity. And with the Schneider-era steering the brand further into the tool watch territory, many assume Breitling is riffing off those Grande Maisons. But when you consider the inspiration, it only makes sense for Breitling to reintroduce this style for its Heritage collection. Jorg’s salmon dial takes a step too far into the realm of its competitors. But this gold version with cream dial lands it squarely within Breitling’s remit to contemporize a classic — it just so happens to be an absolute beauty while doing so.
Jorg’s second watch — Breitling Premier B15 Duograph 42 Rattrapante in black/red gold
Let’s take Willy Breitling’s words and look for the Premier that epitomizes the “unmistakable stamp of impeccable taste.” It has to be this black and red gold version of the Duograph. Nothing beats the style and charisma of this magnificent combination of colors and materials. The combination of the black dial with red gold elements and the red gold case is incredibly classy. Additionally, the black leather strap completes the watch’s brilliant looks. A fun fact is that it is the only watch out of the seven introduced that comes on a black alligator leather strap instead of a brown strap.
Unmistakable stamp of impeccable taste — Willy Breitling
As a result, this is the most contemporary and most versatile out of all seven that were introduced. The fact that I wear black clothes most of the time certainly helps that assessment. It makes the watch perfect for me in both casual and more formal situations. I have to say I like the blue and steel combo of your pick Ben. But I love the combination of red gold and black. It’s why I’ll gladly pay almost €10K extra for this brilliant version of the Duograph.
Jorg: Many of the Fratello team members were impressed when the new Premier Heritage models were introduced. I like the variety of the four models, three non-limited, and the different color and material executions. It is a continuation of the string of exciting releases that we have seen from Breitling in recent times.
Out of the seven watches introduced, my two picks are my absolute favorites. So I hope in this new format that it will be enough to claim victory. It will be good to find out what our readers think as we have seen that our expectations are not always in line with what we anticipate. But I can’t wait to find out.
Ben: I agree; this tag team format leaves the potential results wide open. So now it’s over to the readers to vote fairly and conclude which team of watches will take the overall victory.