We’re back today with a new instalment of our Collector’s Series column, where we leave the stage to an owner and his beloved watch. For a relatively unknown reason, Breitling has rarely been seen in the series, but we’re about to change this… And with a pretty impressive model. Today, we’ll be talking with Timerider27, as this 54yo watch collector is known on Instagram. He is a true Breitling fan. He thought it was time to explain why his Breitling Duograph Premier Split-Seconds chronograph is his favourite one. And to ask people to stop complaining so much…
Frank Geelen, MONOCHROME – How did you personally get to know the brand in the first place?
Timerider27 – I started collecting in 2004. Reading various magazines and forums, the first Breitling that caught my interest was a variation of the Transocean Unitime without a chronograph. I also liked the ubiquitous Navitimer but thought I would never use the calculator bezel and I still hold to that. I also enjoy 24-hour dials and Breitling makes a historic model, the Cosmonaut. I acquired the Transocean Unitime chronograph a few years ago and enjoy it very much. It’s one of the easiest watches that allows the user to change the timezone without stopping the movement and it accounts for summer/winter time (unlike a big brand that has a single pusher adjuster and cloisonné dial). My local authorized dealer carries Breitling and over the last few years, some of their watches have become real eye-catchers.
What is it you admire in this brand in general?
Breitling has a long history as do many other brands. Currently, they appear to be referencing their founding as a pivot point. The recent tourbillion release named after the founders was a stroke of genius. A review of their website shows they support some great causes and they are working toward sustainability. Another recent video I watched said Breitling was working towards tracking their materials to the source, an initiative first presented by Chopard, I believe. In my opinion, this is very important as I don’t want to be wearing a watch that potentially was made using labour that is not fairly paid or with people that could be considered forced labour (or whatever one wants to call it, i.e. slave labour).
We are talking about one specific model. Why is the Breitling Duograph Premier Split-Seconds chronograph your favourite?
First and foremost, it is a split-seconds chronograph, or rattrapante. There are few brands that make this complication and for those that do, it’s hard to beat this price point. In fact, I was in the AD recently and saw the steel version with the blue dial – any watch connoisseur would be happy to have it! I’m not a horologist, but from what I read, other than a chiming complication, the split seconds complication may be the most difficult complication for a watchmaker to build, more difficult than a perpetual calendar which is a series of wheels and gears. This has to do with ensuring the two chronograph hands flow above each other. Or when using the split seconds, verifying the hands snap back to their correct position when the correct pusher is pressed. The red gold case is beautiful. The button in the crown to rattrapante the chrono hands is silky smooth when pushed. The deep black dial, gold Breguet numeral, and gold hands are spectacular. The time is easy to read. The box sapphire crystal is excellent, but it distorts the tachymeter numbers. And I must admit, I’m not sure how useful a 30-minute split-seconds chrono is outside of an automobile race (24 hours of Le Mans, Indianapolis 500) – and if I ever went to one of those races I wouldn’t wear this watch. The ALS Triple Split seems much more appropriate in this situation. These are the only negative comments I have about this watch.
Since when has this model been a watch you desired to possess?
The Breitling Premier Duograph was never a watch I considered until I was shown it at the AD and discussed it with my sales rep. Moreover, the watches I desire to possess are more likely the ones I will never possess. This is mostly due to their price and exclusivity. In the past, I might have purchased from an online grey dealer or used from one of the forums. I don’t feel comfortable doing that anymore, so I stick to ADs. When I travel I attempt to visit ADs in the area, but I have purchased most of my recent watches from the AD in my local area. Just an opinion piece, what people buy is many times associated to what is available to them – things they can see. I do think the watch market is saturated. Watches can last forever, literally. So between new, not new (used), and auction pieces, we have a lot of choices.
When did you buy it and where?
I made the final purchase the day before my 54th birthday. A week or two before, my AD rep (who is not there any longer, unfortunately – it is always great to work with someone who knows your collection) had shown me a few special pieces they had in stock. There are many steel watches, but the lustre of the red gold on the Breitling, plus the split-seconds function, made an impression on me. So I spoke to my wife and then finalized the purchase.
Your wife has an important say in what you buy…?
I feel it is appropriate to consult with my wife before spending this amount of money on one item. I’m sure she would give me the same courtesy if she desired to buy herself something at this cost.
Does your watch get a lot of wrist time?
My Breitling is worn at least 4 times a week. I wear it to work and have it on my wrist as I drive to my tennis group on Saturday morning. It has a crocodile leather strap. It might look elaborate to others, but I tend to wear what I wear on any occasion. The only time I won’t wear it is when I am going to a big public event where security is lite and there is a potential for bad guys to be lurking around.
Do you ever get reactions if you wear or show the watch?
I wore it recently during an advocacy event at our state’s capital. The watch is my contacts icon. When I sent my contacts to a new friend, they said “show off”. I found that funny but showing off is not my intent. I enjoy the piece for what it is, what it is made of, its functions, and its legibility, and I very much enjoy winding it every morning – it’s a manually wound watch. Others have complimented me either online or in person. One funny story: a TSA employee gave me a nice compliment as I went through the entrance to the screening area. He said he was a watch guy. I’m not so sure, but I am not one to judge.
Do you know the current market value of the watch? Do you care to tell us what you paid for it and if you would ever sell it?
I do not know the current market value. I paid the USD retail price plus tax.
What are you wishing for next?
I would love to visit the Breitling manufacture. Many years ago, I was in New York City and went to the Breitling boutique. I was wearing my Arnold & Son TBR. I took it off to try on a Breitling. Through the mirror, I saw an Arnold & Son designer walk behind me looking at my A&S. Later that evening I found him at the watch show. Supposedly he is a big chronograph lover. I believe he currently works for Sellita. My apologies for not remembering his name (editor’s note: Sebastien Chaulmontet).
How would you describe your watch collection so far?
Diverse, complicated and messy. There is no rhyme or reason to my collection. I buy what I like when I see it. Many times I think I could buy one watch for the cost of 3 to 5 lesser-priced watches. But what would be the fun in that?
Are there any more watches you would like to buy?
I wouldn’t mind wearing the Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega. I believe it is one of the most complicated watches currently made. The FM Crazy Hours is great also. I have actually been in the Waco store in the Ginza (Tokyo, Japan – it’s a place any watch lover should visit) and have seen the Crazy Hours in action. It’s fun and exciting. More down to earth, any version of the Breguet la Tradition would be a home run. I would be happy with a Rolex Day Date also – and let me say, the Rolex haters can have their opinion, but I think Rolex is a great organization. They do a lot of good for the global community. And who wouldn’t want a business where you sell all of your product and can’t meet demand. But that is not the point. Hans Wilsdorf built a company to make the world better. They do that through sponsorship, ambassadors, grants, research, and a host of other initiatives. Many watch companies participate in the work to improve the global community. Rolex advertises its portion the best and possibly has the best return on investment. That is what Rolex is all about and I am happy to be able to support them.
Which brands do you think are doing interesting work out there?
Max Busser & Friends (MB&F), Armin Strom, IWC and Arnold & Son come to mind. The MB&F LM Sequential Evo is incredible – understandably why it won the Aiguille d’Or. Armin Strom has some spectacular resonance technology. IMO, IWC doesn’t get enough credit for their perpetual calendar watches. I’ve owned two Portuguese Perpetuals (currently own one) – if it keeps running there is no adjustments required until the year 2100 (but don’t try to set it backwards). And Arnold & Son with their amazing moon phase watches. A&S had some excellent other complications, specifically dead seconds, in the past which may be available used. I think they are fantastic. Breguet is another brand that appears to have a lot of innovation but they don’t seem to make a big deal of it – I would enjoy learning more about them.
Do you have any tips to other collectors who want the watch you possess?
Find an AD, try it on, and do you have a first good impression? If yes, take it home. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first watch or your 30th. It’s a special piece that any owner would enjoy. Anyone can figure out how to use it. It’s not like one has to have experience in the watch community to own a split-seconds chronograph.
Do you have general tips for people who want to start collecting watches?
Not really, I started by purchasing a Rolex, followed by reading online forums and then subscribing to a very popular watch magazine. It started in 2004 and by 2007 I had the watch collecting bug for which there is no cure yet. People should buy what they like. When people start, they probably don’t know if they want a date, a chronograph, lume, or whatever. These things are not learned until one is deep in the hobby. I recommend buying the first watch that you like, then get educated through forums and magazines, and then buy your second ‘educated’ watch. Personally, I am trying to hold off any purchases until I can get to New York City where there are many more ADs and choices.
Have any good relationships developed with other collectors?
Well, I follow our mutual friend winewhiskeywatches on Instagram. I find the forums a bit boring with the daily “what are you wearing” and lack of any substantial commenting. I enjoyed TimeZone at one point, but I was kicked off for an unknown reason. Sent two emails to the moderators, but received no replies. I didn’t like how it was being managed anyway. I did join the GS9 club. It seems there are many critics who want to complain about high prices, poor design, lack of availability, or anything else. To all of these people, I would say Stop Complaining. There are so many choices – find the one you like. Everyone has an opinion, but that and a couple of dollars get you a cup of coffee – it isn’t worth anything. Enjoy life, enjoy what you have, and enjoy watchmaking which is essentially the history of mankind.