It’s a big day for new releases from Breitling with a whole new line of aviator chronographs with the 42mm Breitling Classic AVI. Just like the big-brother 46mm Super AVI watches that were released in 2021, these new releases honor four legendary aircraft but now offer a more conventionally wearable size for those that appreciate the design but prefer a somewhat smaller watch. The watches come in a few different colors as nods to their respective aircraft: blue dial with a steel bezel for the F4U Corsair; black dial with steel bezel or black dial and rose gold case for the P-51 Mustang; green dial with steel bezel for the Curtiss Warhawk; and black dial with white counters and a combination polished and satin-brushed black ceramic bezel for the de Havilland Mosquito. In each case, the watch has a bidirectional ratcheted bezel and comes on either a calfskin leather strap with a folding buckle (and lug width of 22mm) or a five-row, stainless steel bracelet with a butterfly clasp. All the new watches are powered by the Breitling Caliber 23, an automatic caliber with 48 hours of power reserve, and 1/4 second chronograph with 30-minute and 12-hour totalizers. Those movements are cased in stainless steel (or 18k rose gold), measuring 42mm by 14.7mm with a 48mm lug-to-lug. With 100 meters of water resistance, the casebacks are closed and feature an engraving of the airplane linked with each model. If those releases aren’t your fancy, Breitling is also introducing two new watches from their Super AVI and AVI Co-Pilot lines. First is a black ceramic Super AVI “Mosquito Night Fighter” that measures 46mm by 15.9mm. The watch runs off the COSC-certified Breitling Manufacture Caliber B04, featuring 70 hours of power reserve, column wheel/vertical clutch chronograph, hours, minute, second, date window, and a second timezone. It also has a titanium and sapphire display caseback. The final new model is the AVI Ref. 765 1964 Re-Edition, a simplified and classic 41mm reverse panda chronograph with black amorphous diamond-like carbon (ADLC) coated steel bezel. The watch is powered by the hand-wound column-wheel, vertical clutch Breitling Manufacture Caliber B09, which gives 70 hours of power reserve so you can get all the vintage style you need with a more modern and reliable movement. It also has a snap-on steel caseback, so it is limited to 30 meters of water resistance.
Man, is there a lot to unpack here with these new releases. Since I started with the new stuff above, let’s keep that ball rolling…
As a taller guy, I often get feedback from friends that I should be wearing a big watch, but Breitling’s Super AVI chronographs have always struck me as too big for my personal taste (and 7.25″ wrist). These new 42mm Classic AVI might not fit the more traditional sizing of burly tool aviator chronographs, but not everything has to be a perfect re-creation of the classic to be suited for today’s market and tastes. And while the industry had a history of upsizing watches for a good while, I’m glad to see this more wearable option. I’m usually a bracelet guy, but on these classic-styled watches, I would likely gravitate towards a strap, likely the Warhawk or Mosquito shown above. All of them seem like great packages from an aesthetic standpoint, and I can’t wait to see how they wear. At roughly $6,000 for the smaller Breitling Classic AVI models, I think they are priced as we would expect from Breitling and the sizing should bring a wider audience. ,
For the final two pieces, it’s harder to pass judgment as Breitling only provided two pictures of each, front and back. Black ceramic (or any kind of ceramic) seems to be all the rage now, and I think there will definitely be demand for the new Breitling Super AVI. I’m personally more interested in the AVI Re-Edition in person as I love that era of pilot chronographs. But with only 164 being made, it’ll likely sell out before I’m able to see it in the metal.