The Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph 42 Norton Edition incorporates DNA elements from two brands, which epitomise the spirit of freedom and innovation. Breitling through its association with aviation and high-precision tool watches, and Norton through a love of the road and high-performance motorcycles – one of the company’s first recorded victories was at the inaugural Isle of Man TT race in 1907.
Breitling first introduced its Premier range in the 1940s, its first collection of more restrained yet still totally useful timepieces. The collection was reintroduced last year – the new series includes the B01 Chronograph 42, the Chronograph 42, Automatic 40 (time only), and the Automatic Day-Date 40 all with various dial colour options – and is still the most elegant of the watchmaker’s chronographs although a lot larger than its manually-wound predecessors.
The Premier’s clean, contoured 42mm stainless steel case frames a black dial with white subdials – a chronograph minute counter at 3 o’clock and a small seconds subdial at 9 o’clock. On this special edition, the subtle gold outlined Arabic numerals reference earlier models – the new Premier watches feature simple, rectangular hour markers only – while the tachymeter scale on the outer ring of the dial remind us of its functionality and Breitling’s pioneering role in the development of the chronograph wristwatch.
Breitling has been around since 1884 and, as early, innovators can be credited with inventing the face of the modern chronograph. For improved performance the founder Léon Breitling separated the chronograph controls from those of the watch, which saw the introduction of the two-button chronograph in the early 1930s. The ‘Chrono-matic’ or Calibre 11 – developed in collaboration with Heuer, Hamilton, Buren and movement makers Dubois-Depraz under code name ‘Project 99’ – was the first automatic chronograph movements to market and featured in the Breitling Navitimer and Heuer Monaco in 1969. The movement celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
The Norton edition’s case is water resistant to 100m and features a ‘Norton’ logo engraved on the left side of the case and printed motorcycle and logo on the transparent caseback. The edition is available on brown vintage raw leather strap or steel bracelet.
At its heart is a high-performance in-house automatic Breitling Manufacture Caliber 01 with an impressive power reserve of around 70 hours. The watch is Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) certified chronometer, made in Switzerland and retails for $8 500 (on leather strap) and $8 800 (steel bracelet).
Once you've decided on your choice of wristband, you might consider adding one of the 77 limited edition Norton Commando 961 Café Racer MKII Breitling motorcycles to your collection. These bikes recalls the classic styling of traditional café racers but with state-of-the-art components and engineering. Much like the new Premier collection. This edition is powered by a Norton 961cc engine and features distinguishing touches such as a vintage Breitling ‘B’ engraved on the clutch box, a Breitling-designed speedometer and tachometer dials, and a black-on-black ‘B’ stitched into the saddle.