The Breitling Montbrillant is a member of the Navitimer family, as evidenced by its slide rule bezel. However, the Monbrillant also boasts some impressive complications such as a perpetual calendar, moon phase display, or flyback function.
The Montbrillant series contains a wide range of chronographs. The Swiss luxury watch manufacturer Breitling produced these timepieces from 1996 to 2018. Strictly speaking, the Montbrillant belongs to the wider Navitimer family of watches – and it shows. You'd be forgiven for mistaking the two at first glance, as both models are defined by a slide rule bezel . However, upon closer inspection, there are some notable differences between these two series.
Perhaps the most obvious difference is the case size. Montbrillant watches range from 38 to 42 mm in diameter, making them much smaller than most Navitimers. However, there is one exception: At 47 mm, the Montbrillant Légende dwarfs its sister models. Another difference is the hand shape. While most Navitimers use narrow baton hands, Montbrillant watches typically have sword hands inspired by pilot's watches from the 1940s and 50s.
In addition to a chronograph function, Montbrillant watches also feature other complications such as a moon phase indicator, perpetual caledar, or flyback function. Breitling equips these timepieces with either modified ETA base calibers or in-house calibers , including the B01 from 2009. In terms of materials, most models are made of stainless steel. However, there are also several red gold or two-tone limited editions available.
|Model/Reference number||Price (approx.)||Complication(s)|
|Montbrillant Edition, ref. H48330||11,000 USD||Date, chronograph|
|Montbrillant No Date, ref. H30030||6,500 USD||Chronograph|
|Montbrillant 01, ref. AB01301||6,100 USD||Date, chronograph|
|Montbrillant Datora, ref. A21330||4,900 USD||Triple calendar, chronograph|
|Montbrillant Eclipse, ref. A43030||4,000 USD||Moon phase display, date, chronograph|
|Montbrillant 1903, ref. A35330||4,000 USD||Flyback chronograph, date|
|Montbrillant Date, ref. A41330||3,300 USD||Date, chronograph|
|Montbrillant No Date, ref. A30030||2,900 USD||Chronograph|
The first Montbrillant models appeared in 1996, under the reference numbers H30030 (in gold) and A30030 (in stainless steel). The caliber B30 ticks away inside their 38-mm cases. This movement is based on the ETA 2892-A2. What it lacks in a date display, it makes up for in a small seconds at 3, an hour counter at 6, and a minute counter at 9 o'clock.
Despite the subdials and slide rule internal bezel, the black or white silver-plated dial still looks tidy. Domed mineral glass protects the displays from the elements. Plan to spend around 2,800 USD for a well-maintained stainless steel model. On the other hand, the gold edition demands some 6,600 USD.
Breitling replaced the A30030 with the nearly identical ref. A41330 in 1999. The case and dial design are the same as its predecessor's except for the addition of a date display, which sits at 4:30, between the small seconds and 12-hour counter. Watches built after 2008 were also treated to sapphire glass and the COSC-certified caliber B41 based on the ETA 2892-A2. You can purchase a pre-owned timepiece on a leather strap for roughly 3,000 USD. Those on a stainless steel bracelet cost about 3,300 USD. There's also an 18-karat red gold edition of the same watch. The ref. H41330 sells for around 5,000 USD.
In 2012, the Montbrillant received yet another update in the form of the ref. AB01301. Aesthetically, there's little to distinguish this model from the previous editions. However, its case has grown to 40 mm in diameter, and it is the only Montbrillant to be powered by the in-house caliber B01. Another notable difference is the use of applied numerals to mark the hours instead of line indices. What's more, the minute counter and small seconds have swapped positions and sit at 3 and 9 o'clock, respectively. Prices for this timepiece come in at approximately 5,100 USD on a leather strap and 6,100 USD on a stainless steel bracelet.
Breitling created a number of different Montbrillant models with bi-compax dials. A bi-compax watch has subdials at 3 and 9 o'clock. One example is the Montbillant 1903 ref. A35330 , which the Swiss company created in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers' maiden flight. Its 42-mm case houses the B35 caliber. This movement is a modified ETA 2892-A2 with a Dubois Dépraz chronograph module. The result is a flyback chronograph that can time periods up to 30 minutes. There's also a date display at 6 o'clock.
The dials have a two-tone design featuring a black central time display with white numerals and a white slide rule bezel with black numerals. This stainless steel timepiece costs about 4,000 USD new. Prices for pre-owned models begin around 2,500 USD.
The Montbrillant Edition retains much of the design and color scheme of its sister model. However, its 43-mm case contains the series' only manual caliber, namely the B48 based on the Valjoux 7763. The solid case back features an engraving of Breitling's former building on Ruelle Montbrillant in La Chaux-de-Fond, Switzerland. You can purchase the stainless steel edition (ref. A48330) for around 3,900 USD in good condition. In red gold (ref. H48330), the same watch demands about 11,000 USD.
At 47 mm in diameter, the Montbrillant Légende is easily the largest model in this series. Its case is available in stainless steel (ref. A23340) or as a two-tone model made of stainless steel and 18-karat red gold (ref. C23340). The chronometer-certified caliber B23 powers this timepiece. This movement is based on the Valjoux 7753. In terms of design, the Légende bears a strong resemblance to the Monbrillant Edition. Expect to pay roughly 4,500 USD for a well-maintained stainless steel watch. The two-tone edition tends to sell for around 6,000 USD.
The Montbrillant collection also includes a few models with additional complications. One example is the Montbrillant Eclipse ref. A43030 from 1999. In addition to a moon phase display at 6 o'clock, the Valjoux-7758-based caliber B43 provides this timepiece with a date display at 3, a running seconds at 9, and a 30-minute counter at 12. What's more, this movement is COSC-certified in models with the reference number A43330. All this functionality sits within a 41.5-mm stainless steel case. Mineral glass protects the white silver-plated or black dial, which features large luminous indices. Depending on the model and condition, be prepared to spend between 3,200 and 4,100 USD on a Montbrillant Eclipse.
Breitling equips the Montbrillant Datora ref. A21330 with the automatic caliber B21. This movement is based on the ETA 7751 and comes with a triple calendar. An extra central hand points to the date, while the day and month are displayed in windows within the 30-minute counter below 12 o'clock. There's also a 12-hour counter at 6 and a dual 24-hour display and day/night indicator at 9 o'clock. This 43-mm stainless steel timepiece is available with a white silver-plated or black dial, as well as with a reverse panda dial. This kind of dial has a black background and white subdials. A never-worn watch demands an investment of some 4,900 USD, while pre-owned pieces change hands for about 3,900 USD.
The Montbrillant 1461 Jours ref. A19030 is the most complicated Montbrillant model. This 41.5-mm stainless steel watch houses the automatic caliber B19, based on the ETA 2892-A2. As a result, it features a moon phase display and a perpetual calendar in addition to the standard chronograph function and slide rule bezel. Despite its complexity, the dial still looks rather tidy since Breitling's watchmakers pack two functions into each subdial. There's a moon phase at 3, an hour counter and day display at 6, a month display and minute counter at 9, and a small seconds at 12 o'clock. Regardless of whether you choose a light or dark dial, this watch costs anywhere from 4,100 to 4,500 USD depending on its condition.
The Montbrillant Olympus replaced the 1461 Jours in 2005. This model is technologically identical to its predecessor, but comes with a new design. Perhaps the most notable detail is the bezel with a pearl-like texture. This lends the Olympus a distinct retro feel. You can purchase the stainless steel ref. A19350 for about 5,000 USD. The red gold model, the ref. H19350, demands almost double as much at 9,600 USD.