The B01 chronograph from Breitling is an underrated gem. I say this from my long experience searching for the perfect panda chronograph. I love panda chronos because it’s a timeless design that looks great with a black suit. I tend to dress in mostly white and black so these watches get a good amount of wrist time from me.
I started first by considering the Rolex Daytona, naturally. I had devised a rather involved scheme for getting one from a Rolex AD. Then I had the chance to try one on and examine it at length. The experience killed my interest as I found I didn’t like the size, the curvy and somewhat feminine look, and the screw down pushers.
I considered as a cheaper option a Hamilton Intra Matic. It’s a lovely watch with a very cool retro vibe, but ultimately I ended up selling it due to not liking the lugs and the thin, rattly case feel. I also briefly considered getting an Omega racing Speedmaster, but ruled it out pretty quickly as I already have two other Speedmasters.
- Both the Breitling and the Tudor actually use the same Breitling movement. Only difference is that on the Breitling you get a nice display case back to let you actually enjoy it.
- The design of the Breitling is more appealing to me. The Tudor is clearly trying to ape the Daytona to some degree with its bezel. In truth I don’t much like big chunky bezels on chronographs. Furthermore I never loved the Tudor snowflake hands and ultimately the white dot indices are less readable on a white dial than Breitling’s black sticks. What’s more the proportions on the Tudor feel off. The vibe of the Breitling feels more vintage — like an old school instrument watch. That’s my vibe. Old school.
- Price and availability. It’s funny too because the Breitling actually has a much higher retail price. Yet I was able to easily pick it up at 50% discount brand new. The Black Bay Chrono, by contrast, is taking a page from the Rolex playbook. If you’re not on the celebrity list, don’t expect to have a chance at buying it at retail direct from the authorized dealer. Thanks to the 50% markup you’ll pay at least $3000 more on the grey market for the privilege of owning “the other Daytona.”
Breitling is more than a match for Rolex and Tudor when it comes to chronograph heritage. They are responsible for the basic layout and user experience of modern three pusher chronos. Sporting a newly developed in house movement the Premier B01 is just as accurate as the Black Bay and Daytona. It’s also got a more pleasant action and better usability thanks to not having to unscrew the pushers.
I work in technology and chronos are often work watches for me. As a result I prefer wearing them on a strap as they are more comfortable and I don’t have to worry about scratching them. On the dark grey canvas strap the Premier B01 is quite handsome. Not being an Omega, Rolex, or Tudor, it’s a bit of a dark horse pick and that’s just the way I like it. It flies nicely under the radar as a proper enthusiast watch that punches well above its weight.