Coming off of a dramatic and exciting release with the Top Time Classic Cars tribute, Breitling returns to its roots in aviation to unleash the Breitling Super Avi collection.
The brand, also known as “The Flying B”, continues to captivate horology enthusiasts with marvelously choreographed product launches. This Breitling live event was the first organized outside of Switzerland since fall 2019.
Breitling: Building again on a legacy of aviation watches
For this project, the watchmaker cleverly partnered with the Military Aviation Museum based in Virginia Beach, and the Cavanaugh Flight Museum in Addison, Texas. Breitling organized a formation flight that brought four legendary vintage warbirds together in the sky. This was a remarkable achievement, as these 70-80 year-old aircrafts require up to 100 hours in flight preparation time.
Pilot Ray Fowler said, “Our goal is to keep these planes out of museums and Breitling is doing an incredible job to keep these airplanes flying”. It is precisely this commitment to bring heritage and history to life through invigorating and captivating new ways that keeps Breitling at the top of the watch world.
Breitling partners with Military Aviation Museum in Virginia for vintage warbird formation flight to mark the watch launch
Pilots Raymond Fowler (North American Aviation Mustang), John Fuentes (Vought 4FU Corsair), Mike Spalding (de Havilland Mosquito), and Taylor Stevenson (Curtiss P-40 Warhawk), together took to the skies reaching speeds of 320 KM/H. The aircraft at times were only 3 meters apart from one another. This was the first time these planes had flown together. Breitling also organized a fifth plane from which renowned aviation photographer Bradley Wentzel captured and immortalized the historical formation flight.
Breitling: Bridging a part of history with the present
Designed to reflect the identities of four legendary fighter aircraft from the 1940s, these chronographs bridge a part of history into the present. Breitling’s history dates back to the 1930s when the company was responsible for inventing precision cockpit clocks. About two decades later, the company conceived the idea of wearable precision time instruments with the introduction of the Ref 765 AVI, which became a pioneering pilot watch.
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Each of the four timepieces feature large, legible Arabic numerals on the dial bezel. The Mosquito sports a black bezel, unlike the stainless steel of the other three models. The case measures at 46mm in diameter with an oversized knurled crown at the 3 o’clock position. The bezels have also been knurled for easy in-flight handling with gloves. The chronograph minutes totalizer has been fashioned to look like a propeller.
The COSC-certified Breitling Manufacture Caliber B04 powers the engines of these watches offering about 70 hours of power reserve. Each watch features a top-stitched calfskin leather strap which highlights the seams found on vintage flight gear.
It is precisely this commitment to bring heritage and history to life through invigorating and captivating new ways that keeps Breitling at the top of the watch world.
P-51 Mustang Edition has the least appeal
The P-51 Mustang edition is the watch in this collection that seemed to have the least appeal. The GMT hand gets lost in the dial due to the black-on-black colour layering of the dial and the handmarker. The black tints on the bezel distort the flow of the design. And the bezel numerals could have been more pronounced to provide a bolder feel for this homage to this single-seat, single-engine fighter aircraft.
The bezel itself could have been designed to be slightly thicker to give a more robust appearance to the case. The strap colour feels as though it does not flow with the rest of the watch. Perhaps a smoother leather would have created a smoother overall appearance.
P-51 Mustang edition
The Vought F4U stays true to its naval origins. The iconic navy plane with folded wings has been accented well in this timepiece. A navy strap with white stitching could have served as a valuable alternative strap option as well to add some the option for customization and personal expression by the wearer.
Breitling knows what it does best
Coming to the Warhawk, this is a plane most people recognize, even if they are not avation fanatics. This iconic shark-mouthed warplane is a poster classic exudes daring adventure. For such an exciting aircraft however, the watch feels incredibly unexciting and understated. I feel as though Breitling would have been wise to include some element of the shark mouth nose of this plane somewhere in the design of the bezel so that it could have been immediately recognizable.
Bringing history and heritage to life
Although the Mosquito appears to differentiate itself from the rest of the collection with its black bezel, it does not appear to pay much tribute to the plane colloquially referred to as the “Wooden Wonder”. It was constructed at a time where there were aluminum and steel shortages.
I would have liked to see Breitling integrate this element of the plane’s heritage into the watch some more. The tints on the bezel are distracting and the brown strap feels out of place. I think a crisp black leather strap with red or white stitching would have accented the watch better. This being said, this watch was my favourite from the four-piece collection for its bolder tones and more unique style.
Overall, Breitling knows what it does best, and that is produce aviation watches of the highest quality and these certainly meet that esteemed standard. The brand continues to excite horology enthusiasts and watch collectors with exciting new timepieces boasting exciting colours, intricate designs and rich histories. These watches start at about 11,000 CAD.