02/21/2024
 5 minutes

Revealing the Unseen: Three of Breitling’s Hidden Gems

By Aaron Voyles
Three Hidden Gems From Breitling

Three Hidden Gems From Breitling

The world of watch collecting can be a daunting place. With a long list of iconic watches that the majority of collectors lust after, like the Rolex Submariner, Patek Philippe Nautilus, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Cartier Tank, Omega Speedmaster and so on, it can often seem like no matter where we look, we are joining the back of an already-formed crowd of onlookers who began appreciating a certain watch long before we did. However, that isn’t actually the reality of the industry. With a whole host of incredibly diverse brands making watches for all walks of life across a diaspora of design languages and with lots of different use cases in mind, watch collecting can be a hobby that enables us to discover certain watches long before they become the status quo.

Take Breitling, for example. They are undoubtedly a popular modern-day brand with a long and rich history and a design language that speaks to most collectors’ contemporary desires. Yet, they have plenty of watches that still manage to fly under the radar and go a little bit unappreciated, at least in my opinion. So, I’d like to explore some of those watches and make a case for why they should have their own crowd of onlookers lusting after them like some of the more established models.

Breitling Premier B25 Datora

Released just before Watches and Wonders 2021 kicked off, Breitling continued their incredible run of form with a bevvy of new variants within their 1940s-inspired Premier collection. While the Premier collection effectively announced then-new CEO Georges Kern’s desire to lead Breitling down a new path, the collection still goes a little bit unappreciated as collectors continue to flock to Breitling’s sportier offerings (I’m guilty of this too), and so I could probably say the whole Premier collection is underappreciated and wrap this article up already, but one particular variant stands out to me, the stainless steel copper dial Premier Datora ref. AB2510201K1P1.

AB2510201K1P1
Breitling Premier B25 Datora AB2510201K1P1

Offering a vintage-inspired design that is timeless, at least in my opinion, the ref. AB2510 combines the humble triple calendar with a chronograph and moon-phase indicator to create a timepiece that looks like a dress watch but brings the functionality of a modern-day tool watch. In what is a fashion-forward timepiece that will fit into any collection, it benefits from its unique copper dial that isn’t as ubiquitous as black, blue or white might be. Offered for a retail price of €12750, it is available on the market for around €9000, and that is a serious bargain considering what other brands might cost you to get into this kind of watch, proving how unappreciated this Breitling is by the wider watch-collecting community.

Navitimer Automatic 41 ref. A17326361L1A1

Continuing with our journey across the landscape of underappreciated Breitling models, we have a niche Navitimer variant. While the Navitimer is inarguably Breitling’s best-known watch, its time-only variants escape the same level of fandom their chronograph-equipped siblings generate. Thus, it is hard for me not to add at least one Navitimer variant to this list, so I’ve chosen the Navitimer Automatic 41 ref. A17326361L1A1. While the Navitimer Automatic 41 collection is pretty large and, like the Premier collection, is pretty slept on across the board, the ref. A17326 should have more onlookers than it does.
Offered in a perfectly wearable 41mm stainless steel case, the ref. A17326 features the Navitimer’s iconic aesthetic through its slide rule bezel and accompanying dial layout. Additionally, offered on either a classic leather strap or the Navitimer’s signature bracelet, it can be worn as a casual dress watch or a sportier option that exudes refinement. Additionally, what makes the ref. A17326 so special, at least to me, is its stunning green dial. While green is becoming more popular these days, Breitling have created a gorgeous shade that can transform from a near-black in some lighting conditions to a bright emerald green when the dial is fully illuminated.

Navitimer Automatic 41 ref. A17326361L1A1
Navitimer Automatic 41 ref. A17326361L1A1

I would almost go as far as to say that it actually reminds me of how some of Moser’s dials look in person. At a retail price of €4750, that is quite high praise, and better yet, you can pick one of these up for less than €4250 on a bracelet – that’s pretty affordable considering how much a watch with a similar type of dial from a brand like Breitling can set you back. I suppose that’s the benefit of exploring beyond the realm of the masses.

Superocean Automatic 42 ref. A17375211I1A1

To round out our list, I would like to mention the Superocean Automatic 42 collection. Offered as one of Breitling’s many capable dive watches, the Superocean has suffered from a bit of an identity crisis over the last decade or so as its slew of variants cover a wide basis of aesthetic identities and watchmaking prowess with GMTs and chronographs distracting from the collection’s ethos as a no-nonsense dive watch, which is what I think it should be, at least in my opinion. However, with so much noise in the collection, it is easy for some models to slip between the cracks, as has happened with the Superocean Automatic 42 ref. A17375, an online exclusive model that one would be excused for not knowing about.

Superocean Automatic 42 ref. A17375211I1A1 
Superocean Automatic 42 ref. A17375211I1A1

Boasting a stunning yellow dial, it injects some fun and personality into a thoughtfully executed heritage-inspired watch that takes the design DNA of one of the Superocean’s earliest models and modernises it in an appealing manner that I find quite charming. Its unique handset, chunky applied indices, white chapter ring and burst of bright colour all speak to the funky casualness that the Superocean originally catered to back in the 1960s. And, given these are so seldom seen, even on social media, I think it is probably a watch that could do with some more fanfare. Priced at €5100 on a bracelet from Breitling’s website, it is not a bad buy at all, but considering it is around the €4000 mark on the secondary market, it is a lot of watch for the money that you’ll probably never find on someone else’s wrist in the wild.

Conclusion

With an incredibly diverse catalogue including a host of different offerings spanning several decades, Breitling is home to a long list of watches that I could have included in this article. From their Aerospace collection to their Chronomat and Colt collections, I could have probably made this article 3 times as long. However, I think these three watches sufficiently showcase just how much is out there in the world of Breitling if you delve a little deeper than where the majority of collectors want to go, which is usually the same for most brands. While there are watches from each watchmaker that capture most of the attention, as you delve deeper, you’ll find that the most exciting stuff is usually what everyone else forgets to look at, as is the case for Breitling. So, for better or for worse, if you stick to your guns and look beyond the ordinary, you’ll find the extraordinary eagerly awaiting your arrival.


About the Author

Aaron Voyles

I love everything about watchmaking, from the artistry of their design to the engineering hidden within their movements and the history that breathes life into their stories.

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