If you click on Breitling’s product page and select the “Men’s Watches With History” tab you discover the brand’s proudest achievement. Hint: it ain’t one of the new Breitling Heritage Premier Chronographs . . .
The first Navitimer came out in 1952 and was made for pilots. With a slide rule for flight calculation, Breitling was a pioneer in aviation. Even today, the Navitimer still has cult status and impresses with its simple elegance combined with the highest functionality as a first-class men’s watch.
The Breitling Navitimer put modern era Breitling on the map. It appealed to people who either knew how to use a slide rule or wanted other people to think they knew how to use a slide rule. It set the brand on course to its present day tool watch niche.
Breitling’s decision to raid its pre-Navitimer catalogue to sell watches that have nothing to do with the brand’s current rep for brick shit house timepieces is yet another cynical big name brand’s gutless exploitation of the neo-vintage trend (Audemars Piguet [Re]master01 Selfwinding Chronograph above). A particularly egregious example IMHO.
While the new Breitling Duograph gets credit for not being the 90’s mucho macho 38mm steel and 18k gold Duograph, the 42mm new old model doesn’t look anything like the original 36mm 1944 Duograph (above). Both watches are split second bi-pax chronographs. But that’s about it, similarity-wise.
The old timer’s radium lume could kill you – and still can – but it’s a far more restrained and dignified timepiece than its “reimagining” – especially when you clock the indices on the new watch’s subdials.
Is the new old watch more reliable than its predecessor? Sure. More accurate? Indubitably. More expensive? Probably not, taking inflation into account. But the new Duograph is still a plenty pricey piece at $10,500.
“That’s a big departure from the price tag you’ll find next to most other Swiss- and German-made split-seconds chronographs,” HoDinkee’s Logan Baker writes, defending the Duograph’s sticker, “figures that can easily stretch into the six figures.” Does that make the $20,200 red gold version a bargain?
He would say that wouldn’t he – considering HoDinkee’s added Breitling to the long list of watches it sells and, therefore, daren’t criticize. On any level. Ever. Which is why the new Premier Heritage Chronographs receive an equally uncritical blessing from the House of HoDinkee. Well kinda . . .
From a functional perspective, the Premier Heritage B09 Chronographs fully stick to Breitling’s roots, offering top-notch precision and reliability with modern upgrades in all the areas you’d expect.
What you wouldn’t expect is the stylistic departure from classic Breitling – or even from most chronographs . . . This isn’t a dressy chronograph – it’s a dress watch that happens to have the added bonus of a chrono function.
Huh? The 40mm Premier Chronographs are the exact same watch as the ‘Ho’s beloved newfangled Datograph, except less split-secondy and featuring more attractive, lighter colored dials.
The Breitling Premier Heritage Datora takes its “inspiration” from the Datoras of the 1940’s. Again, the vintage pieces are small, elegant and relatively fragile. While B made a triple calendar moon phase model back in the day, the “refresh” is the first to add a chrono to the equation.
Breitling has used the name Datora for a wide variety of modern watches, including the bonkers Navitimer Montbrilliant Datora. All available for sensible money. The new 42mm Datoras (above) are expensive, especially in red gold ($25,650).
Breitling introduced these three new old watches are part of their “Breitling Founders Squad.” esquire.com gives us the 411:
They are Léon Breitling [above], who founded the company in 1884; his son, Gatson, who in 1915 created one of the first wrist-worn chronographs to feature a stop-start pusher at 2 o’clock; and Léon’s grandson, Willy, who patented the second chronograph pusher at 4 o’clock, in 1934. Old school!
Indeed. Unlike Breitling’s Cinema, Surfer, Explorer, Aviation Pioneer and Triathlon Squads, all the members of the Founders Squad are dead. Rolling in their graves at the imagination-less “reinterpretation” of old watches? You might say that about the Breitling Premier Heritage Chronographs but I couldn’t possibly comment.
For some reason, Breitlings just don’t resonate with me. I had a blue Super Ocean for a while but sold it off to buy a Tudor Black Bay. I just didn’t regard it as special in any way. It was merely expensive. Call me a philistine, but I much prefer my blue Rado Captain Cook and blue Tissot Seastar with silicon hairspring. I’m not saying Breitlings are bad watches, mind you. They have that “brick shithouse” reputation for a reason. BTW, that chicken shit green on the Premier Heritage B09 Chronograph doesn’t help its case. At least not for me.
Zero attraction for me as well. Certainly would have to be something special, and not Breitling, to accept a 15mm watch anymore.
Case, lug, pushers and dial actually reminded me of Baume et Mercier Clifton… hopefully, details are better….