Breitling Super AVI Collection 2021: Come Fly With Me!
by Nancy Olson
Breitling’s new Super AVI 2021 collection highlights its ongoing commitment to a foundational pillar of the brand: aviation-inspired timepieces.
The 2021 collection both includes all the functional details prized in a sky-worthy watch and celebrates aviation history. I was fortunate to be invited to witness the Super AVI collection’s dramatic unveiling at the National Aviation Education Center (NAEC) in Dallas, where the Commemorative Air Force showed off some planes from the 1940s along with the four namesake Super AVI watches.
“This collection embodies that sense of nostalgia for the early days of aviation when pilots relied on their watches as onboard tools,” said Georges Kern, CEO of Breitling, who was there as well.
At the helm since 2017, Kern has been instrumental in broadening the definition of Breitling to increase focus on land- and sea-worthy timepieces while continuing to give its aviation-centric watches their rightful due.
Breitling’s Reference 765 AVI pilot’s watch, introduced in 1953 and known as the Co-Pilot, is the inspiration for this 2021 collection, which was inspired by four vintage aircraft to create four new Super AVI watch models. The legendary planes honored are the North American Aviation P-51 Mustang, the Vought F4U Corsair, the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, and the de Havilland Mosquito. Their silhouettes decorate the watches’ case backs.
“We can’t forget that Breitling pioneered aviation tool watches like Reference 765 AVI,” said Breitling creative director Sylvain Berneron. “That heritage is so strong we had to not only keep it intact, but rewrite it for the twenty-first century.”
And rewrite it they did with a memorable backstory that has World War II written all over it.
Legibility being essential in a pilot’s watch suggests that the new timepieces are eminently readable. And they are with large Arabic numerals on the dial and bezel, and bold Super-LumiNova accenting the numerals, indexes, and hands.
The generously sized 46 mm case, bidirectional ratcheted bezel, and oversized crown at 3 o’clock all provide a sense of sturdiness without bulk and solid dependability without overkill. The red-tipped GMT hand, in collusion with the 24-hour marking on the inner bezel, tracks a second time zone.
Inside, self-winding C.O.S.C.-certified Caliber B04 – you’ll know it from the Navitimer, Chronomat, and others – drives the hours, minutes, seconds, date, and second time zone. It has a balance frequency of 4 Hertz and offers 70 hours of power reserve. The column-wheel chronograph features a vertical clutch and quarter-second, 30-minute, and 12-hour totalizers.
Here’s where the watches diverge
The Super AVI P-51 Mustang – named for the eponymous bomber that was a relative latecomer to the Pacific Theater – comes in two variations: with a stainless steel case, black dial, and brown leather strap and in red gold with an anthracite-colored dial and a black leather strap. The latter is exclusive to Breitling boutiques or available online at www.breitling.com.
The Super AVI Tribute to Vought F4U Corsair with a blue dial, tone-on-tone counters, and a black leather strap is designed in honor of the naval aircraft Corsair, which was the first single-engine fighter to crack the 400 mph (644 kmh) mark.
The Super AVI Curtiss Warhawk is fitted with a military-green dial, white contrasting chronograph counters, and red accents. Its color scheme is a nod to its namesake’s famous shark-mouth nose art: so familiar was it to me from movies and books that it literally took my breath away when I saw it “in the metal.”
Finally, the Super AVI Mosquito has a black ceramic bezel – the only one among the new collection – and a black dial with white counters. Its red and orange details allude to the markings on the plane, which is nicknamed “the Wooden Wonder.”
As a history buff I was excited to witness the four historic aircraft that translated to the Super AVI collection along with many of the other planes on display at the 47,000-square-foot NAEC in Dallas.
It was easy to recognize the elements meaningful enough to become part of the design of the watches. And in speaking with the pilots, who were there to answer questions (and fly the planes), I sensed their respect for the aircraft and the watches they inspired.
The pilot-inspired leather straps are lined in Breitling yellow, which may seem like a minor detail but make for a highly visible piece of identity. Allowing myself a moment of feminine allusion here, they remind me of the bright red soles on Christian Louboutin shoes: there’s never a question about what you’re wearing, and, as always, good taste speaks volumes.
For more information, please visit www.breitling.com.
Quick Facts Breitling Super AVI
Case: 46 mm, stainless steel or red gold
Movement: automatic Caliber B04, officially C.O.S.C. chronometer certified, 70-hour power reserve; 4 Hz/28,000 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, second time zone
Price: $23,650 (red gold Mustang); $10,100 (steel Mustang); $10,250 (steel Mosquito); $10,100 (steel Corsair); $10,100 (steel Curtiss Warhawk)