The replica Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph 42 is fully functional, remarkably well finished to the point that it punches above its weight, and a welcome addition to an underserved category of dressy chronographs. I take a lot of time with the blue dial variant and it was as natural a fit when I was wearing a Fred Perry polo and a pair of Birddogs as it was when I had a wedding in a tan Gucci suit. If you’re one of those people who rely on a watch to tell you who you are, this watch is probably not for you. However, the Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph 42 is the final touch that highlights a subtle point.
The Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph 42 brings exceptional finishing, thoughtful proportions, perfect versatile design, and an in-house movement to the table for a price of $8,500. That’s a lot of value, and Breitling has continually exceeded my expectations for the past two years.
My admiration for Georges Kern-era Breitling is known to all, at this point, but I was a little worried at the original release of the Premier Collection. The photos made the watch look a little too safe and conservative, and while that stayed absolutely true in the weeks I’ve worn the cheap replica watch, I have found myself not using either of those descriptors as a pejorative. The history of modern chronographs from Breitling is a long and complicated one, with so many strong personalities involved. Between the Chronomat and Navitimer alone, let alone others, there is a lot of expectation that comes along with being a chronograph from Breitling.
The Premier B01 Chronograph 42 was an exercise in the importance of restraint in design, understanding proportions, and top quality. The result is one of the most balanced pieces Breitling has ever made. The Premier B01 Chronograph falls within the “vintage-inspired” Premier collection, but I actually don’t really feel beholden to that general parlance. On the contrary, it’s a watch I’d see on Don Draper’s wrist — the closest I can get to nailing down its identity. I think it is intentionally designed and marketed to underscore the personality and style of the wearer, rather than try to add personality and style to the wearer.
It’s all about case finish, design, and proportions with an impressive in-house movement from Breitling. The model I decided to wear is the blue dial with blue alligator strap, though there are some varieties like the panda dial, gray and black, and that green-dialed Bentley edition that I love so much.
Measuring 42mm-wide and 13.65mm-thick with a lug-to-lug measurement that is a hair shy of 50mm, the case is water resistant to an impressive 100M. When organizing my thoughts on this watch, I remembered what our David Bredan said about the bezel and case profile when the watch was first launched. He wrote then:
Subtle, integrated pushers and the smart, multi-step steel bezel make for an unobtrusive chronograph. The Premier hides its heft and thickness extremely well, thanks to that low case profile and the polished bezel that narrows quickly and in several steps. It is only now, that I’m looking at this photo above that I realize how intricate and unique that design is.
It’s these small details that make the final product cohesive, and this replica watch’s crown is one of them. The crown obviously had large, deep knurls, which I could tell at a glance were made for modern fingers. So many fake watches forced me to almost hold the crown, making it feel like a child’s toy. Fortunately, the crown is not tightened and is easy to operate.
When I later learned that Breitling had designed the crown for the first B01 chronograph, I wasn’t surprised — the crown definitely showed that. Again, this is thoughtful and attention to detail, which is unusual for a brand of this size.