Breitling Premier Heritage B21 Chronograph Tourbillon

Since its introduction in mid-2021, the Breitling Top Time Classic Cars collection has changed the Top Time’s positioning in the brand hierarchy from an entry-level, youth-oriented chronograph series, to a more refined, lifestyle-inflected upscale collection. This revised line features frequent brand collaborations, exquisite finishing, and visual nods to some of the most beloved American automobiles of all time. The Top Time’s move upmarket shows no signs of slowing in 2023, and Breitling’s latest suite of releases brings the nameplate to new heights by introducing a tourbillon to the collection for the first time ever. Although their wild new complications may take top billing, the new Breitling Top Time B21 Classic Cars Chronograph Tourbillon collection (which includes the Breitling Top Time B21 Ford Mustang, Breitling Top Time B21 Shelby Cobra, and Breitling Top Time B21 Chevrolet Corvette) brings the Top Time series to luxe new frontiers through unique materials, refined presentation, and more subdued branding than its predecessors.
Interestingly, the watches in the new Breitling Top Time B21 Classic Cars Chronograph Tourbillon collection do not all share the same case dimensions. While the Top Time B21 Shelby Cobra and Top Time B21 Chevrolet Corvette both opt for 44mm wide cases in sleek black ceramic, the Breitling Top Time B21 Ford Mustang’s warm bronze case measures in slightly smaller at 43mm wide. With that said, there’s little that differentiates between the two case designs in images, other than their materials. Both case styles feature a broader, more imposing version of the Top Time’s familiar midcentury-sporty case silhouette in photos, with slightly tapering attached lugs, narrow smooth bezels, and richly brushed case sides. As one might expect, Breitling fits all three watches with sapphire display casebacks, offering an unimpeded view of the movements within. Although these may be more luxe variants of the base Top Time platform, Breitling maintains the line’s sporting edge, and all three models are rated for a solid 100 meters of water resistance.
Like their standard chronograph siblings, the Breitling Top Time B21 Classic Cars Chronograph Tourbillon collection features dials inspired by the beloved cars that share their names. However, these models take a subtler approach, with more muted colors and no overt automotive branding in images. All three watches share the same dial layout, with an outer tachymeter ring in black, the line’s signature “squircle”-shaped 60-minute chronograph subdial at 6 o’clock, and a matching rounded-square cutout for the tourbillon escapement and its elegantly narrow skeleton bridge at 12 o’clock. From here, each model takes the layout in a different stylistic direction. With its surrounding bronze case and matching dial hardware, the Breitling Top Time B21 Ford Mustang’s vertically brushed Highland Green dial offers a deep, classically luxe colorway in images, harmonizing the tourbillon with the rest of the dial through matching and complementary hues. Conversely, the Breitling Top Time B21 Shelby Cobra takes a more serious, muted approach in initial photos, with its desaturated navy blue brushed dial and a blacked-out tourbillon bridge. Arguably the most striking of the trio, however, is the Breitling Top Time B21 Chevrolet Corvette. Rather than taking on an automotive paint-inspired dial hue like its counterparts, this model instead shifts its focus to the car’s dashboard. The dial surface is rendered from a single piece of walnut burl wood, featuring a rich blend of highlights, shadows, and textures in images. Wood dials are a real rarity in the modern luxury watch landscape, but the results in photos are dynamic, nuanced, and genuinely compelling.
All three models in the Breitling Top Time B21 Classic Cars Chronograph Tourbillon series utilize the Calibre B21 automatic tourbillon chronograph movement. First introduced in 2022’s Breitling Premier B21 Chronograph Tourbillon, Breitling developed the B21 in partnership with movement specialist La Joux-Perret. The end result is an impressively solid performer, with a 55 hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate, as well as COSC certified chronometer accuracy. On the finishing side, the Calibre B21 is crisp and modern, if unspectacular in images. Broad perlage along the mainplate is accented by vertical brushing and anglage for the upper three-quarter plate, while the engraved skeleton rotor is dominated by a matching mix of vertical brushing and anglage. As one might expect though, the tourbillon is the visual centerpiece here, thanks to its use of contrasting metals and the arcing, narrow lower tourbillon bridge. Breitling completes all three models with a faux-perforated rally-style leather deployant strap in either midnight blue or cognac brown.

Breitling Premier Heritage

During our last conversation a couple of months ago, CEO Georges Kern could hardly keep his cool as, bursting with pride, he gushed over Breitling’s 2021 novelties – without revealing anything, of course. As we are now finding out, his excitement was fully justified. This year, the Premier collection is extending to include six new – and extraordinarily chic – Breitling Premier Heritage Chrono models within three sub-lines.
In 2018, Kern presented the first Premier of the new era. This was surprising in the sense that prior to the relaunch, the model was not particularly on anyone’s radar. The Premier collection is based on a line originally conceived by Willy Breitling in the 1940s, which picked up on the achievements of his predecessors alongside his personal vision of a modern and elegant watch. This involved a combination of Léon Breitling’s tachymeter display, and Gaston Breitling’s chronograph with a separate pusher at 2 o’clock. Willy Breitling further complemented these features by adding his two separate chronograph pushers at 4 o’clock, creating a stylish watch with a sensual case and low-key dial.
In his time, Willy Breitling was an important supplier of prominent military and pilot watches – although he increasingly yearned for normality after years of war. He wanted to bring back a sense of optimism, both for himself and others, through beautiful objects. Furthermore, having a good sense of style was an obsession for Willy Breitling. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the first 1943 Premier was Willy Breitling’s dream come true; a stylish watch that simultaneously incorporated the technical finesse of the company’s history.
It’s possible that Georges Kern sees himself as the cross-generational ambassador of this historically important model. Upon reissuing the line back in 2018, Kern respectfully adopted the achievements of the company’s founders, while also making subtle tweaks and bringing the Premier up to date technically.
Now, he is continuing on the line of Willy Breitling’s thoughts on elegant watches by introducing several new features. That said, Kern also left room for some fashionable touches. This involved keeping the Premier as a watch that can serve as a dress watch, yet be sporty enough to be equally wearable with a suit as a leather jacket. Therefore, the once baton indices are now Arabic numerals, and the hands are becoming even more classic. Additionally, new precious metals, as well as new functions, are making their way into the Premier watches. Furthermore, all new models come with a fine alligator leather strap with tone-on-tone stitching.
The Breitling Premier chronograph, previously measuring 42 mm, is now available in the form of two 40 mm models. This is essentially a “back to the roots” move from Breitling – the historical Premier models measured a smaller 36-38 mm. Of course, this would simply not be a fashionable size today.
Furthermore, the calibre also sort of goes back the model’s roots, as it were, now featuring a classic manual winding mechanism. The new chronographs use Breitling’s manufacture calibre B09, using the manufacture Calibre 01 as its base. This is the same movement that powers both the Navitimer Ref. 806 and AVI Ref. 765. Additionally, the choice of a manual winding movement means that the open caseback is a particularly delightful feature.
The expansion of the Premier chronograph also introduces several new colour and material combinations. One of the two models showcases a pistachio-green dial in a stainless-steel case. Meanwhile, the second model has a silver-coloured dial with an 18-carat red-gold case. Both dials are impressively well done (in fact this applies to all models). For one thing, Breitling keeps the subdial counters in the same colour tone as the dial. Furthermore, the Arabic numerals and the “B” from Breitling’s logo are not simply printed, but rather neatly applied. As with the Arabic numerals, it was a clever move to switch up the baton hands in favour of cathedral hands.
The Breitling in-house calibre B09 is COSC-certified and offers a power reserve of approximately 70 hours. The new Premier B09 Chronographs come with a golden-brown alligator leather strap with a folding clasp. The price for the steel version is 7,400 euros, while the red-gold version is 16,200 euros.
It was perhaps foreseeable that the Premier chronographs would be given a drag pointer sooner or later. After all, as a chronograph specialist, the horology house has something to prove in this complex field. Willy Breitling introduced the first Breitling Duograph back in 1944. The name Duograph, meaning two chronograph hands, initially established itself at Breitling in place of the more common terms “drag pointer” or “rattrapante”.
Here comes the Premier Duograph of the 21st century. Breitling has come up with a new calibre for the watch, the Breitling manufacture calibre B15. The movement uses the in-house rattrapante calibre B03, but it is a manually winding, rather than automatic calibre, which measures a solid 15.35 mm in height. The integrated crown pusher for the drag pointer function is a special feature previously used on the historic models.
The new Breitling Premier B15 Duograph 42 is available either with a glossy deep blue dial in a stainless-steel case, or with a black dial and 18-carat red-gold case. The Breitling in-house movement B15 with manual winding is also COSC-certified and offers an approximate 70-hour power reserve.
Both versions come with a brown or black alligator leather strap with a folding clasp. The price for the steel version is 9,350 euros, while the red-gold version costs 19,200 euros.
George Kern keeps reviving lost treasures from the Breitling archives. Within the Premier collection, Willy Breitling also introduced a sub-line named the “Datora”. In addition to the classic chronograph displays, it also integrated a day, date and moonphase display.
Today, one would consider it somewhat atypical for Breitling. Yet for Georges Kern, it embodies his original goal as he took over and turned Breitling around as CEO and co-owner; to provide a worthy stage for the brand’s immense range of historic models.
If you take a look at the Datora Reference 805 from 1946, you’ll see how astonishingly similar the new model is to its historic counterpart. Breitling is simply adding a shine to it through a number of small new details, as well as the inclusion of the in-house automatic calibre B25.
The new Datora 42 has a champagne-coloured (Breitling actually calls it “copper-coloured”) dial, and comes in a stainless-steel case. At first glance, the watch evokes Patek’s Ref. 5270P or Lange’s Datograph. However, as the devil is in the detail, and in this sense, one should take a second look to get to see the subtle differences.
The second variation of the new Datora 42 has a silver-coloured dial and an 18-carat red-gold case. Both models come with a dark brown alligator leather strap with a folding clasp. Powering them is the new Breitling in-house automatic calibre B25 with a 48-hour power reserve, and is COSC-certified. Its price is 11,350 euros in steel or 22,200 euros in red-gold.
The new models are all very well executed. However, Breitling has to be aware that the tall height of the Premier might not be to everyone’s taste. Due to the modular construction of the movement, the Duograph and Datora, with their 15.35 mm heights, aren’t exactly watches made to flatter the wrist. With the new Premier Heritage Chrono collection, Breitling takes an interesting step in the future of its brand development. The collection enables a whole new approach at the horology house, which rested on the success of a few icons for far too long. The new Premier is a game changer that is likely to entice a whole new clientele – we picture it adorning the wrists of successful start-ups entrepreneurs or young creatives – from London to Tokyo.