These new Breitlings are never going to be mainstream choices. The classic lines, raised numerals on the dial, vintage chrono pushers and almost pocket watch styling mean that for many younger buyers these look old fashioned watches. Something your Dad would wear, bit like a Harley Heritage Softail. With leather tassles.
Then there’s the prices. At £47,000, or £55,000 for the Willy Breitling edition, these are not choices for everyday people on a modest £60,000 a year salary as a Diversity and Inclusion Manager in the public sector. Nope, these are proper luxury Swiss timepieces and when you start reaching Patek or Mille levels, you won’t see many on the pre-owned market or auction circuit. That means the rarity element makes these classics, unicorns, grail watches..whatever you want to label them.
Technically, it’s interesting that the tourbillon moves up the dial, from the 6 o’clock position. It adds a visual punch and in some ways, draws the eye to the whirlwind a bit more. Inside, it’s a La Joux-Perret and B21 collab movement, with both parties working their magic. You can find LJP tourbillon movements inside Zelos, Raymond Weil, Angelus, Arnold & Son and as Citizen owns LJP, Arnold, Angelus and Frederique Constant you’ll find a luxury tourbillon at some point in the future in each Citizen brand.
Does that connection devalue the Breitling? For us, it does, because it isn’t 100% in-house movement technology, it’s a shared platform.
In the same way a new Volvo, BMW or Mercedes is often a Chinese built car with some European design influences and maybe some other random components from outside China, the Swiss watch industry shares tech, parts and has partnerships with various large scale manufacturing groups.
You can’t expect anything else in the modern world because no single company can make every part, for every mdoel. Once you buy stuff in, almost every watch becomes a collab with some other brand. But your quality control, finishing and brand values are what sets you apart, so a Merc S Class or a Breitling Premier `feels’ different, from say a Volvo X40 or a Longines HydroConquest.
Here’s some blurb from Breitling;
Breitling worked hand-in-hand with the specialty movement maker Manufacture La Joux-Perret to develop the B21 movement that takes the uncommon step of combining a tourbillon with a chronograph to make this trio of watches so distinctly Breitling.
Precious metals and a domed open caseback characterize the Premier B21 Chronograph Tourbillon 42. It comes in three variations, each named for one of the Breitling founding fathers. The Léon Breitling features a solid 18 k red gold case with a silver dial and brown, semi-shiny alligator strap. The Gaston Breitling pairs a solid 18 k white gold case with an anthracite dial and black alligator strap. The Willy Breitling, meanwhile, is a vision in solid platinum with an admiral-blue dial and black alligator strap. Each watch features the stylized square pushers and Arabic numerals that are hallmarks of the Premier line.
Verdict: If you have over 50K to invest in a watch, buy a Patek. It’s guaranteed to hold or increase in value. It’s also a company which will refurbish or repair EVERY watch they ever made. Others stop making spares after so many years.