Breitling’s New Super AVI B04 Chronograph GMTs: The Wild Blue Yonder On Your Wrist
Breitling’s new Super AVI line not only honors some of most iconic warbirds from World War II but also delivers a profound sense of authenticity, gravitas, and style – even if most of your flight time is spent in a First Class seat.
Breitling’s connection to aviation is nothing short of storied. As early as the 1930s, the company’s Huit Aviation department forged a distinct legacy, making precision cockpit clocks for the budding aviation industry. The original Breitling AVI wristwatch, 1953’s “Co-Pilot” AVI Reference 765, was ground-breaking and still considered one of the most reliable and aviator timepieces of its era.
While the “Co-Pilot” AVI got its own re-edition last year, the spirit of that watch was top-of-mind as Breitling designers built out this new Super AVI line of timepieces. But, given the rich history of both Breitling’s aviation connection and the wide spectrum of notable aircraft to honor in a new line of pilot watches, how did the final decision to choose the undeniably awesome P-51 Mustang, P-40 Warhawk, F4U Corsair, and de Havilland Mosquito come about?
“The process of selecting the aircraft commemorated in the new Super AVI watches was a bit of top-down; and a bit of bottom-up,” Breitling CEO Georges Kern told us. “We had some specific colors and attributes we wanted to show up in the watches. But we were also focused on picking aircraft with iconic stories behind them. I think this set of planes is not only evocative and varied, with compelling histories, but they are all undeniably cool.”
First, let’s talk about what all the new Super AVIs have in common. They all share a rugged 46mm case approach. Plus, they all have the rock-solid COSC-certified Manufacture Calibre B04 movement with chronograph/GMT functions and a 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock, a 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock, a 60-second counter at 9 o’clock, and delivers 70 hours of power reserve.
Their prominent crown, ratcheted bi-directional bezel, solid-response chronograph pushers, Super-LumiNova hand and index coating, and a sturdy folding deployant clasp check all the boxes of a modern pilot watch. The addition of a GMT function, or “Zulu Time” in military parlance, is a particularly important modern addition to a pilot’s watch and provides the cockpit with a universal global time reference wherever they are flying.
But the heart and soul of the new Breitling Super AVI B04 Chronograph GMT timepieces is derived from an unabashedly proud history of aerial combat and pilot dedication.
The North American Aviation P-51 Mustang
The legendary Mustang fighters, each of which was built in under 120 days, were developed at warp-speed for WWII Allied fighter pilots who sought a more modern solution to airborne combat. The Mustang could fly further and faster than any other fighter aircraft at that time and became a near mythological long-range bomber escort and dogfighting aircraft. Moreover, it was the first American fighter to stick its nose into France during D-Day.
In appearance, the Breitling Super AVI P-51 Mustang is perhaps the most purely technical of the new timepieces. The gleaming steel case is mounted with an equally gleaming numbered rotating bezel that frames the extremely legible night-black dial and slightly lighter black/grey sub-dial set and outer GMT ring. A handsome, coarse-stitched golden-brown leather strap complements the package just beautifully.
The legacy of the North American Aviation P-51 Mustang is further honored by the brand with a stunning, Breitling boutique- and website-exclusive 18K red gold version that comes on a black leather strap.
The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk
Early in the Second World War, the P-40 Warhawk made a name for itself with the so-called “Flying Tiger” squadrons. These “Flying Tiger” squadrons consisted of American volunteer pilots who played a critical role in protecting China and Southeast Asia before the U.S.’s official involvement in the war. Plus, the ubiquitous tradition of “shark-mouth” nose painting of fighter aircraft, in fact, started with the Warhawk-equipped “Flying Tiger” squadrons.
Given its history, a military green dial is an apt medium for an homage to the Warhawk, as this airplane commonly flew in a green camo livery. To add to this stealthy colorway, the hands and indices of the Super AVI Curtiss Warhawk emit a luminous green light. Bright white sub-dials make reading the half-hour, 12-hour, and 60-second intervals easy to read via a quick wrist-glance.
But it’s the red “fuel gauge” markers on the 30-minute sub-dial at 3 o’clock, along with the red pointer on the GMT hand, that adds some visual drama. Finally, a handsome brown stitched leather strap echoes the workhorse nature of the aircraft this timepiece commemorates.
The Vought F4U Corsair
The unmistakable “bent wing” design of the legendary F4U Corsair naval aircraft pegged it as a purpose-built combat plane. But with a massive 18-cylinder engine and equally massive front prop to generate the thrust needed to take off from the deck of a ship, once in the air, it was also one of the fastest and most feared fighters of WWII.
The hallmark of the Super AVI Vought F4U Corsair is a deep ocean blue dial, which mimics the Corsair’s deep blue camo livery that made it so hard for Japanese Zero pilots to see them during over-the-water combat. The bold red indicator of the GMT hand is particularly handsome in this version, with a numbered stainless steel bezel and striking black stitched strap filling out the ode to this legendary carrier fighter.
Lastly, to up the ocean factor, the Super AVI Vought F4U Corsair features blue-emitting Super-LumiNova on the hands and indices.
The de Havilland Mosquito
The trim, twin-engine de Havilland Mosquito may present something of a visual oddball in the history of WWII, but the aircraft’s sheer flexibility is nothing short of legendary. Its shoulder-winged, relatively lightweight, high-ceilinged, twin-engine design made it equally effective as a fighter plane, light bomber, or stealthy surveillance aircraft. And, at the time of its introduction, it was faster than even the British Spitfire in aerial combat.
Like the Mosquito aircraft it honors, the Super AVI Mosquito is classic but colorful. White sub-dials that create a reverse-panda effect also pop from the black dial landscape for added legibility. But, as with the Warhawk model, the red accents on the gauging of the 30-minute sub-dial, GMT hand, seconds hand, and minute and hour hands add more visual appeal to a classic, panda-style chronograph execution.
The 12-hour marker on the rotating bezel is also in bold red and profiles gorgeously off a black ceramic bezel base, perhaps hinting at the often-stealthier nature of the Mosquito’s military missions.
History Meets Today
To celebrate the launch of the Super AVI B04 Chronograph GMT 46 collection, Breitling pulled out all the stops. Besides including a once-in-a-lifetime ride aboard the historic “That’s All, Brother” C-47 paratrooper transport that spearheaded the air-to-ground Allied invasion of Normandy, all the flight-fueled excitement took place at the Henry B. Tippie National Aviation Education Center (NAEC) in Dallas.
The NAEC is a pretty remarkable organization in its own right. Dedicated to using the hook of vintage aircraft to excite local South Dallas schoolchildren, the NAEC offers these children extraordinary STEM-based educational skills they wouldn’t normally get in their public school curriculum. This education is critical, especially in the Dallas area, where 1 in 6 jobs are directly related to aeronautics and aviation.
Roger, And Out
“As a pilot, I would love to get into the specific benefits of the watch components,” as Taylor Stevenson, the pilot who flew the Curtiss Warhawk to the Breitling event, told us. “But when you’re behind the stick of vintage aircraft like this, the most important function of your watch is quick, easy legibility. In aircraft of this vintage, your fuel is your time. With a compass, map, and this watch, I could fly that Warhawk anywhere. Plus, it is also just plain great-looking.”
Pricing & Availability
As you read this, all four versions of the new Breitling Super AVI B04 Chronograph GMT 46 are available at Breitling retailers, boutiques, and online. The P-51 Mustang, P-40 Warhawk, and 4FU Corsair versions list for $10,100 each, while the ceramic-bezeled Mosquito version lists for $10,250. The 18K red gold version of the P-51 Mustang Super AVI lists for $23,650 and is only available through dedicated Breitling boutiques and online.