Pilot watches are among the most interesting breeds of watch because of their storied history. One of the first-ever wristwatches was designed in 1904 for a famous Brazilian pilot who was tired of fumbling around with a pocket watch mid-flight. While Breitling’s pilot watch experience doesn’t reach quite that far back, the brand is known for its exceptional pilot watches, and its latest collection draws on that heritage—pulling inspiration from actual airplanes. The new Super AVI Collection includes five timepieces based on the renowned “Co-Pilot” AVI pilot watch released in 1953, and the watches are a tribute to four iconic World War II-era fighter aircraft: the North American P-51 Mustang, Vought F4U Corsair, Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, and de Havilland Mosquito.
“This collection embodies that sense of nostalgia for the early days of aviation when pilots relied on their watches as onboard tools,” Breitling CEO Georges Kern said in a press release. “But you don’t have to be a pilot or vintage-aircraft buff to appreciate the exceptional craftsmanship and rugged design.”
The starting point for all five of the new watches is the original Ref. 765 AVI pilot’s watch, released in 1953. After its debut, it quickly became a popular choice among aviators, and it earned the nickname “Co-Pilot” for its reliability and ease of use. (Breitling launched a re-issue of that timepiece last year.)
To design the Super AVI watches, Breitling took design hallmarks of the Co-Pilot—like large Arabic numerals and triple sub-dials—and refined them with aesthetic details pulled from the four WWII-era aircraft. All the models feature large 46mm cases and, like any good tool watch, they’re built for ease of use: The oversized crown and knurled bezel makes them easy to grip and manipulate. They’re also built with a GMT complication for tracking two time zones at once (the red-tipped hand tracks a second time zone using the indices on the inner ring of the bezel). Whether you fly your own plane or prefer a window seat on a commercial jet, that’s always a helpful feature to have close at hand.
Aesthetically, the Super AVI watches are as diverse as the planes they honor. The Super AVI P-51 Mustang, for example, comes in two versions. One features a stainless-steel case with a black dial and brown leather strap, and the other features a red gold case with an “anthracite” dial and black leather strap. The Super AVI Tribute to Vought F4U Corsair replicates that plane’s eye-catching blue color scheme with its own deep blue dial, while the Super AVI Curtiss Warhawk features an olive drab dial, white sub-dials, and red accents that evoke the aircraft’s fearsome “shark mouth” nose art.
No matter which you choose, you’ll get a capable pilot’s watch—and a little piece of history on your wrist, too.
[Starting at $7,750; breitling.com]
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