In 1884, a 24-year-old Léon Breitling opened a workshop in the Swiss Jura town of Saint-Imier, where he began obtaining patents for chronometric instruments. His pioneering creations — which ranged from a pocket-watch tachymeter for measuring a vehicle’s speed to table clocks with weeklong power reserves — were coveted for their technical precision. Léon’s son, Gaston, later expanded the business, developing an early wrist-worn chronograph that became popular among athletes and aviators. In 1932, Gaston’s 19-year-old son, Willy, took over the company and, in 1943, he launched the brand’s Premier collection, with its distinctive Arabic numerals and polished square buttons.
Now, Breitling is introducing a new trio of timepieces, each inspired by — and named after — one of its three patriarchs. Among them is the Premier B21 Léon Breitling: Set in 18-karat red gold, it features a symmetrical silver dial, a domed sapphire crystal case back and a brown alligator leather strap, with numerals and pushers that nod to the original Premier. (It’s also available in a white-gold and anthracite version called the Gaston; the Willy comes in platinum with a blue dial.) An open tourbillon constantly counters the pull of gravity to ensure the watch’s accuracy. The rare addition was designed in partnership with the Swiss specialty movement maker Manufacture La Joux-Perret — another innovation of which the old family members would certainly approve.
Photo assistant: Christopher Thomas Linn