Like the Italian Panerai, Breitling keeps distancing itself from the overwhelming monopoly of ETA on high-grade mechanical movements and gradually substitutes their blank calibers with its own mechanisms. Their biggest bet? The new in-house Caliber 01 that will replace the omnipresent Valjoux 775x family. The Montbrillant 01 Chronograph is one of those iconic models getting equipped with a brand new “heart.”
The Montbrillant 01 Chronograph arrives in a mid-sized round case 40 millimeters in diameter. As usual for the brand, the chronograph 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 timepiece 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 chronograph has been designed to better suit the largest share of the 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, as is the case with many Breitlings, getting this blind is not the best idea. You should try one on your 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 limited-edition Transocean Chronograph 01, the new timekeeper’s face is adorned with a “historic” stylized “B” letter that used to decorate vintage Breitlings 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 read 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 “aviators” of the mid-twentieth century), this may be a problem since the piece doesn’t have even the 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 an *ahem* vulgar thing as increased legibility in bad lighting, but stripping something that is essentially an 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 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.
Breitling plans to sell this new chronograph as a limited edition model, which is going to be presented both in stainless steel (2000 numbered pieces) and 18-karat 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 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 Chronograph (AB013112-G709BRCT) 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: Stainless steel or 18-karat Rose gold
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