Like the Italian Officine Panerai, the Swiss watchmaking brand Breitling keeps distancing from the overwhelming monopoly of ETA and gradually substitutes their ebauches with its own in-house Caliber 01 automatic movement. The Breitling Montbrillant 01 Chronograph watch is one of those old models getting equipped with a brand new heart.
The watch, which is planned to be officially revealed in March at Baselworld 2011 show, will be presented in a mid-sized round case 40 millimeters in diameter. As usual, the watch will feature a traditional fluted bezel meant to operate an internal circular slide rule.
Forty millimeters do not sound like a lot of steel to bear, but you should take into account the fact that this classic-styled sporty wristwatch comes with a set of very (I mean, like, very) long lugs that together will increase the timekeeper’s overall length to more than 50 millimeters. While it still doesn’t sound especially frightening, for most people with relatively thin wrists this may pose a serious problem since the watch will cover the whole width of your wrist and, probably, then some.
Also, while this new Montbrilliant 01 chrono seems to have been designed to better suit the largest share of human population, it may not be particularly comfortable to persons with more round wrists due to its more or less flat profile.
While the purpose of this brief “initial impressions” review doesn’t cover the “you should buy this not that” department, I should warn you that, like it is the case with many Breitlings, getting this one blind is not the best idea. You should definitely try one on your own limb before ordering one online.
Inside the Mercury Silver dial that features applied hour markers made either in stainless steel or gold there is a central 1/100th of a second chronograph counter printed in red.
You may also notice that, like the recently unveiled Breitling Transocean Chronograph 01 Limited Edition automatic watch, the new timekeeper’s face is adorned with a “historic” stylized “B” letter that used to decorate Breitling watches in the first part of the 20th century.
As it comes to legibility, I would say that it is more or less adequate given its finish: even the mirror-polished hands on the stainless steel version look contrast enough to be easily red in normal lighting. However, if your idea of legibility also includes good nighttime readability (and it probably should since you are contemplating buying a timepiece styled after pilot’s watches of the mid-twentieth century), this may be a problem since the piece doesn’t have even a slightest drop of Superluminova on its dial.
Frankly, I don’t know what they were thinking. I mean, it is normal when you don’t want to spoil an elegant dress watch with such a vulgar thing as increased legibility in bad lighting, but stripping something that is essentially a very expensive pilot’s watch of any amount of lume is something that is beyond my understanding.
As for the movement, it is, as I have already stated, their new Caliber B01 in-house movement that is as beautiful (at least, in that rugged, military aviation inspired way) as it is technically advanced. The movement is still very new, so there is still no information regarding its long-term reliability, but at the time of writing I heard only good things about this tiny little engine.
The Swiss watchmaking brand plans to produce this watch as a limited edition model, which is going to be presented both in stainless steel (2000 numbered pieces) and 18-carat rose gold (200 numbered pieces.)
There is still no info on the timekeeper’s recommended street price, but prepare to be surprised.
Update on pricing:
Well, it has been confirmed that the version in stainless steel will go on sale at a relatively modest price of $8000 (give or take depending on local taxes), which basically means that soon you will be able to order one online at some $6000 – $6500. Frankly, I am surprised in a rather pleasant way.
Breitling Montbrillant 01 Automatic chronograph (ref. AB013112-G709BRCT) watch specification
Price: $8000 (version in stainless steel, ref. AB013112-G709BRCT)
Movement: Automatic, Breitling Caliber B01, 28,800 vph, 47 jewels, COSC-certified chronometer, in-house, Swiss Made
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, 1/100th sec. chronograph, date
Power reserve: 70 hours
Case material: Stainless steel or Rose gold
Bezel material: Stainless steel or Rose gold
Case shape: Round
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 40.00 mm
Lug width: 20.00 mm
Case height: 13.50 mm
Dial: Mercury Silver with the stylized “B” logo made of solid gold
Water resistance: 30 meters
Case back: Sapphire