Breitling Exclusive: Hands on with Mark Toulson
By Sarah Jayne Potter | 5 minute read
This season sees the Watches of Switzerland Group and Breitling unite for the first time to create an exclusive timepiece in the Watches of Switzerland Group Exclusive Special Edition Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph 42. It combines function with style, and is a high performing model, one that is worthy of the legacies of both companies, as well as any watch collector. There are just 150 pieces available, making it a must-have in any collection.
The history of the Breitling Premier dates back to the 1940s, where the timepieces were the perfect accompaniment to the remarkable changes taking place all over the world. In 2018, Breitling released new models that extended that legacy, reflecting the historic design codes and proud history while still remaining modern and stylish.
This collaboration follows suit and is designed for those who live an active lifestyle with the collection specifically dedicated to Breitling’s ‘land’ environment, one of three environments including ‘sea’ and ‘air’ that are the cornerstones of Breitling’s core collections.
The new 42 mm timepiece features a striking, clean silver dial with contrasting blue subdials – a 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock and a small-second subdial at 9 o’clock and date window at 6o’clock. The dial also features a white tachymeter scale on a blue inner bezel around the dial, enhanced by a blue alligator leather strap.
The timepiece is powered by the Breitling Manufacture Caliber 01, visible through the transparent caseback. Developed in-house and recognised as one of the finest watch movements in the world, the self-winding COSC-certified chronograph carries an approximate power reserve of 70 hours.
One final design touch comes in the form of an inscribed Watches of Switzerland logo on the caseback, a globally renowned mark of excellence and precision.
Georges Kern, Breitling CEO comments; “The long-standing relationship between Breitling and the Watches of Switzerland Group reflects our shared values and dedication to delivering a first-class luxury experience to our customers. The new Premier B01 Chronograph 42 perfectly embodies these values in a timepiece that is both classic and refined.”
We caught up with Mark Toulson, our Head of Watch Buying to discuss this timepiece, and find out his thoughts on the partnership.
Mark, thank you for sitting down with us today. Tell us a little bit about the new Breitling Exclusive and how the collaboration came about.
This is our first collaboration with Breitling and there will be more to follow in the future. The main driver behind this is an expression of our close partnership with the brand that’s been established over decades but also our desire to offer our clients something slightly different. Exclusivity is also important too. There’s only going to be 150 of these ever made so we feel this only adds to the appeal of this watch.
The Breitling Premier dates back to the 1940s, can you expand on its history and evolution? What are the main differences between the predecessor and today’s model?
The 1940’s Premier was described as possessing “everyday elegance” and I’m sure the modern iterations also embody that quality. Beyond that though there are some obvious similarities between the original model and today’s. The rectangular chronograph pushers for one, the tachymeter scale on the dial another. The gentle, almost imperceptible curve to the lugs provide a perfect vehicle to showcase the contrast between the highly polished upward facing surface and the satin finish to the sides of the case. There’s also some subtle fluting to the case sides that add further detail, reminiscent of the original. So the links between the old and new are evident and prove that good design is appreciated across the decades.
What would you say are the key talking points of this timepiece? Who would be the ideal recipient of the Breitling Premier?
From an internal perspective the movement is Breitling’s own BO1 which took five years to develop and first appeared in 2009. Its automatic chronograph movement has a 70 hours power reserve and is also COSC certified meaning it’s accurate and very reliable. Externally, there’s a beautiful balance and symmetry to the dial with the two blue sub-dials sitting at the 3 and 9 o’clock position and the date residing at 6. It’s a very cool looking timepiece and would suit anyone looking for both a sporty and elegant design.
The blue wrist strap lends a sporting charm to this timepiece, and sets it aside from the norm, what is your take on coloured straps?
There’s a good deal of personalisation by watch owners today and the easiest way to change the look of a watch is through colourful straps. NATO and rubber straps lend themselves to variety of colours, as do leather straps. In the case of our exclusive, the blue strap with white stitching match the dial colour in a most elegant way. The wrong strap choice can really ruin the overall impact of a watch, but we think we have the combination just right with this exclusive.
So, let’s talk style and fit. Where would you wear this timepiece, and how does it feel on the wrist?
It’s a 42mm case and whilst I have a smallish wrist it’s a comfortable fit. It’s big enough to have real “wrist presence” but not overpowering as its relatively slim at just under 14mm thick. It’s a classic design and won’t look out of place in any environment – smart or casual, so I’d wear everywhere.
What is your favourite thing about the timepiece?
It’s blue and balanced! I’m a big fan of blue and we know from our sales data that blue is hugely popular amongst our clients. Equally, the two sub-dial “panda” design really appeals to me as it’s balanced.
It’s one of several exclusive partnerships now between Watches of Switzerland Group and a luxury timepiece brand that we have seen, and all have been highly regarded. What makes for a great collaboration in your opinion?
Always start with a good watch as a basis for the exclusive! We have lots of sales data from both the US and UK that show us the specific watches that our clients like but also the styles, colours and functions they are most attracted to. We use this information to work with the brand to make changes to the base model to create something new that should be really appealing.
Can we expect more collaborations between the Watches of Switzerland Group and Breitling in the future?
I really hope so! Breitling create some great watches so our opportunity to personalise them in a way that we know our clients will love is wonderful. We’ve got lots of ideas so keep an eye out as there’s more to come.