WATCHES: Timepiece nuts take note
If there’s a watch brand that is associated with the cachet, craft and provenance of flying, it’s Breitling
If there’s a watch brand that is associated with the cachet, craft and provenance of flying, it’s Breitling. The Swiss company dates to 1884 but has been entrenched in this airborne world since the 1930s. In 1938 it launched a special aviation division, the Breitling Huit Aviation Department, to focus on onboard clocks for aircraft, and its clients included Britain’s Royal Air Force. You can imagine how busy the division was during World War 2.
Under the watch (pardon the pun) of new CEO Georges Kern, the brand is combining top tech and modern craftsmanship with this aviation heritage.
These two new timepiece releases are cases in point:
The Navitimer 1 Automatic 41
Breitling’s Navitimer has been one of the most highly regarded pilot’s watches since 1952. The Automatic 41 is a contemporary update of this classic, drawing inspiration from the iconic Navitimer Ref 806 and the Reference 66. It sports the familiar circular slide rule, beaded bidirectional bezel, a 41mm stainless-steel case and a three-hand dial.
It’s available with black, blue or silver dials, or as a bicolour model with an 18 karat red gold bidirectional rotating bezel and either a silver or anthracite dial. Both options come with either an alligator strap, or a stainless-steel bracelet.
These new releases are powered by the Breitling Caliber 17, an automatic movement with a power reserve of around 38 hours, and are water-resistant to a depth of 20m. Like all Breitling watches, they are COSC-certified. COSC is the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres — the very exacting standards body for Swiss watches.
The AVI Ref 765 1953 Re-Edition
In 1953, Breitling launched its bold Ref 765 AVI. It was a pilot’s watch (AVI being short for "aviation") that became known as the "Co-Pilot" and its excellent legibility made it popular among aviators. The newAVI Ref 765 1953 Re-Edition honours this heritage piece.
The original 1953 Co-Pilot was an interpretation of the onboard clocks designed and produced by the Huit Aviation Department in the 1930s and 1940s. Its contemporary version is being produced in a limited series of 1953 watches, each of which will be engraved "One of 1953". The watch is powered by the Breitling Manufacture Caliber B09, a manually wound mechanical chronograph movement, based on the brand’s in-house Manufacture Caliber01.
Just two things distinguish this new timepiece from its famous ancestor: water resistance is improved to 30m and the word "GENEVE" no longer appears on the dial.
The Breitling AVI Ref 765 1953 Re-Edition comes with a black vintage-inspired leather strap but the company is also releasing a limited-edition version in 18 karat red gold with a black dial and a brown vintage-inspired leather strap. For those wanting a bit more bling, there’s an even more exclusive option (comprising 153 watches only), produced in platinum and featuring a blue dial and a gold vintage-inspired leather strap.