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Review: Hands-on with the Breitling Premier Automatic 40: The Blue Beauty

by Peter Chong on November 20, 2018
Overview
Brand

Breitling Premier Automatic 40

Complication / Type of Watch

Automatic
Date

Recommended Retail Price

S$ 5,750 as shown in blue crocodile strap.

Blue is the new black…or has it always been. Breitling’s new Premier collection includes several models with the absolutely stunning blue dials. We covered the Premier Chronograph B01 in a hand-on review here, and now review the Premier Automatic 40 here, and get acquainted with its charms. 

Follow our Instagram account @deployant for live coverage of the Breitling Summit events happening at publishing time (right now) in Beijing.

 

 

The New Breitling Premier Collection

The new Breitling Premier collection introduces five distinct models whose elegance is worthy of historic heritage.

While these days, Brietlings are perhaps more widely known for their aviation watches, the brand do have a land, sea and air philosophy, and the first watches were indeed created for land use.

 

“This is the first modern Breitling collection dedicated to everyday elegance. With outstanding quality and performance, these watches bear our unmistakable brand DNA, but they have been created with a focus on style that beautifully complements their purpose.”

Breitling CEO Georges Kern

The premier collection takes its design inspiration from the Permier watches made in the 1940s. Like the great movies in that era of global conflict and economic uncertainty, the watches offered a form of escape through elegance and grace.

The collection was dedicated to Breitling’s land environment, and is made up of 5 models: two chronographs (the inhouse chronograph Premier Chronograph B01 42 reviewed here, and the Valjoux based Premier Chronograph 42), the Premier Automatic 40 (this review), the Premier Automatic 40 Day/Date, and the Premier B01 Chronograph 42 Bentley British Racing Green.

Our personal picks from the collection are the B01 Chronograph 42 with the “Panda” blue and silver dial, and the Automatic 40 blue dial.

 

Breitling Premier Automatic 40

The Breitling Premier Automatic is an elegant execution of a classically styled dress watch. It evokes the elegance of the 1940s. The case is stainless steel and carries the Breitling Caliber 37, an automatic mechanical chronometer movement.

The dial is available in antracite, blue or silver, and each dial option is available with either a nubuck or alligator strap or a stainless steel bracelet. We have chosen for this review our favourite from the lot – the blue dial with matching blue alligator strap.

 

 

The case, dial and hands

The dial design is clean and elegant. The blue is is a hue which we have a particular fondness for when it comes to dial colours, and the Premier Automatic 40’s deep blue dial is gorgeous. The case is lightly reminiscent of the IWC Portugese case, with the sapphire glass crystal extending almost edge to edge, almost eliminating the bezel. The sides feature lines scored to emulate a sleek look.

 

 

The overall design of the dial is harmonious, with the central blue portion circled by a white chapter ring with minute markings. A small seconds sub-dial at 6 is also similarly finished with a blue core and a silver ring with seconds markers.

 

 

Markers are bar style, appliqué, with superluminova inserted within. The hour and minute hands are slim, also with superluminova inserts with pointed ends. The small seconds hand is tipped in red for a bit of colour flash, and is designed without a counterweight which is not essential for the short hand.

A new Breitling logo – a stylized B, without wings or anchor adorns the centre stage in a yellow/gold hue. Breitlings are being shipped with either this new logo or the older B logo with wings and anchor depending on the model.

The watch is supplied with a stainless steel deployant buckle.

 

The movement

The case back of the Premier 40 is closed, but within beats the rugged Breitling Caliber 37. This is based on the standard ETA 2895-2 beating at 28,800 bph with a power reserve of 42 hours. We are not able to elaborate on movement finishing as we could not open the watch to examine the movement, but are sufficiently persuaded that the movement will be finished to a good engineering level, with little embellishments or decorations.

 

The Competitive Landscape

At S$ 5,750, the Breitling Premier Automatic 40 makes a beautiful case for itself. The price itself being an attraction in and of itself. But also the striking good looks, proportional and harmoniously design is a big plus. The blue dial is absolutely gorgeous, and lovers of the blue dial genre will be totally captivated by the subtle sunburst pattern on the dial visible at certain angles.

 

Pic by iPhone taken in available light in a hotel ball room. The cast of the halogen lighting is obvious. The colour rendition of the other photographs are more true to life, as they were taken inside a light box with colour correct studio flashes.

 

This is a price point and feature segment which does not lack competitors. The landscape is quite a full one. As examples, we picked two:

Tudor Black Bay Blue (link shows the 36mm, but the watch is also available in 41mm. Click here for Tudor website) retails for S$5,180. The movement is the in-house MT5602, which replaces the earlier model which used the ETA 2892. The Tudor is a more sporty by far, with a thick bezel and a water resistant rating of 200m, qualifying it as a diver watch. The Breitling Premier is rated to 100m, and intended for land use. Aesthetically, the Breitling is dressy and elegant, while the Tudor is chunky and sporty.

Nomos Tangente Neomatik  (S$ 4,900) is perhaps one from the Nomos stable which is the same landscape. The Tangente is elegant, in a Bauhaus style manner, perhaps a bit more teutonic than the very elegant lines sported by the Breitling Premier. The Tangente is also automatic winding, and intended as a dressy watch with a case diameter of 39mm. The blue is a darker midnight blue, with no texture or surface interest. However, the DW 3001 movement is more exclusive and arguably more advanced and better finished (we have examined the Nomos finishing, and judge it to be good. And higher than regular engineering levels needed for good operations. But not having examined the Breitling C.37 in the Permier, we are unable to make a reasonable comparison).

 

Concluding thoughts

The Breitling Premier Automatic 40 is a compelling watch. The price is rather attractive. The aesthetics are magnificent. And the blue dial is drop dead gorgeous. It keeps coming back to us, giving pleasure every time we glance at our wrist while wearing it. That is perhaps the only reason to buy a watch – to give one pleasure to strap it on, and every time one gazes on it…not only to read the time, but also just for the satisfaction of seeing the watch.

 

Editor’s note: All photographs were taken with the Canon 1Dx with 100L f2.8 lens coutersy of Sutjahjo Ngaserin, except for the one with the Breitling being held by the hand, which was taken with an iPhone 8+. 

 

Before leaving, we tackle the elephant in the room, that it is a copy of the IWC Portugeiser, a watch re-designed during Georges Kern’s tenure as CEO at IWC. The two watches certainly does have many common aesthetic elements. However, we need to take into context that the framing of the 1940s, an era which the original IWC Portugeiser as well as the Breitling Premier both hail from. So perhaps the Premier 40 is not totally original in design (almost no watches are these days), but it is much less expensive than the proposed IWC prices. It is also undeniable that the execution and eye to detail and final aesthetics of the Breitling are totally beautiful and captivating. For us that suffice. And the Premier Automatic 40 gets our tick of approval.

 

Breitling Premier Automatic 40 Specifications

Reference: A37340351
WATCH MOVEMENT
Caliber: Breitling Caliber 37
Diameter: 25.6 millimeters
Depth: 5.6 millimeters
Winder: automatic with dual-acting ball-bearing rotor
Power reserve: at least 40 hours
Balance frequency: 28,800 a/h or 4 hertz
Display: hour, minute, small second
Certification: COSC-certified
CASE
Material: stainless steel
Diameter: 40 millimeters
Height: 11.40 millimeters
Water resistance: up to 10 bar (100 meters)
Glass: sapphire, convex, double anti-reflective
Caseback: solid, screwed
Crown: non-screw-locked, two gaskets
DIAL/HANDS
Anthracite, blue, or silver
Super-LumiNova® luminescent hour and minute hands
STRAP
Alligator leather or nubuck strap with folding buckle or stainless-steel bracelet with folding clasp

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