Updated: May 5, 2020
2020 will be remembered for many things. The country of Australia catching fire, Nuclear war between America and Iran almost happening and of course... Breitling releasing new watches! If I'm completely honest, with Baselworld being cancelled and Patek Philippe, Rolex, Tudor and Omega announcing they wouldn't be releasing watches, I wasn't really looking out for any new watches. However, to the elation of watch enthusiasts worldwide, a number of brands launched some new pieces. One of which was Breitling. Now until 3 years ago, I was exceptionally uninterested in what Breitling was releasing. However, with Breitling being acquired by CVC Capital Partners, new ownership has appeared to breathe new life into the brand. This was marked by the resurgence of the Breitling Premier, a staple of the Breitling Chronograph range in the 1940s. A 42mm steel case with a panda style bi-compax dial, this was an exceptionally tasteful and nostalgic piece not similar to anything Breitling had done in the last 30-40 years.
Firstly, they released a limited edition Top Time reissue via a rather contemporary Instagram advert. This piece, as part of the Premier line, boasted all the 1960s archetypical racing watch characteristics that made the original Breitling Top Time's so iconic. For example, the 'Zorro' dial complemented with orange hands is very reminiscent of the Top Time ref.2003 from the 60s and a number of models in the 70s. However, complemented with the BR32 in-house chronograph calibre and a 41mm case size, this is very much a modern which with a vintage feel.
Then there was a second wave of new watches following the Watches and Wonders exhibition. Firstly, I want to mention the revamped Chronomat. Sticking to the previous iterations DNA but with a sleeker bracelet, a smaller case and more vintage-inspired dial variations, Breitling united sharp modern sports watch execution with nostalgic design inspiration.
Secondly the outstanding Aviation 765 re-edition. They didn't even try to pretend with the name. It's a straight modern interpretation of the outstanding original aviation watch. Once again they take the much loved, flawlessly utilitarian design and equip it with a modern in house chronograph movement to make an absolute show stopper.
Finally, I wanted to mention the new women's Super Ocean 36mm in Orange. A 200m diving watch housing an in-house Chronometer movement, with an Orange dial, Orange strap and a 36mm case size. I think it is irresponsible to market this as a women's watch. This is an excellent, colourful dive watch in a much more classic case size. Furthermore, retailing at £2,760 for an in-house COSC certified movement this is fantastic value compared to competitors.
To conclude, Breitling has this year demonstrated that they now have some creative momentum. Producing thoughtfully designed pieces with in-house movements makes me want to forgive them for the last 10-15 years of very average watchmaking. However, it does piss me off that they are marketing such an awesome watch as a woman's watch. Then again, societies gender constructs don't usually put me off...
Editor & Co-Founder
The Young Horologist