While the evolution of an icon can be a tricky business, Swiss watchmaker Breitling has somehow managed to enhance the adventurous spirit of its beloved Avenger timepiece with a newly revamped collection to suit the most discerning collectors and newcomers alike.
Billed as the brand’s “ultimate pilot’s watch”, the Avenger made its debut in 2001, quickly becoming the watch of choice among aviation professionals. As the most renowned brand manufacturer of aviation chronographs, Breitling is no stranger to the skies, with a storied aviation history that stretches all the way back to the 1930s when, shortly before the start of World War II, third-generation founder Willy Breitling unveiled a new department dedicated to building cockpit instruments and, in particular, highly legible pilots’ chronographs. Named Breitling Huit Aviation to reflect the eight-day power reserves which many of its onboard clocks and other dashboard instruments were equipped with at the time, these designs became the gold standard and a template for many of the wristwatches that followed.
The brand’s ties to aviation were not severed there, however. In 1942, Breitling released the Chronomat, the first chronograph to bear a circular “slide rule” – a tiny, mechanical tool that can solve a host of different things, like multiplication, division and conversions. Other signature models like the Navitimer, the quintessential pilot’s chronograph introduced in 1952, as well as the AVI Co-Pilot, a 1953 descendant of the wrist-worn military instruments made by the Huit Aviation department, and the Emergency, the first wristwatch to feature a built-in personal distress beacon, also have their designs rooted in aviation. Fast forward to today, and Breitling has extended this heritage with a new range of Avenger models in tonal colourways inspired by the design of military uniforms.
Two new 44mm chronographs enter the Avenger family – the Avenger B01 Chronograph 44 and the Night Mission. The former is kitted out with a rotating stainless- steel bezel and coloured dial in a choice of blue, green, black or sand. The latter comes in a vibrant yellow or carbon black, with a case and bezel constructed of scratch-resistant ceramic. Its caseback, crown, pushers and buckle, meanwhile, are crafted in solid titanium. Both the B01 and Night Mission are powered by Breitling’s all-new Manufacture Calibre 01 – fitted with a hefty 70-hour power reserve and COSC- certified chronometer – which the wearer can admire through an open sapphire-crystal caseback.
Next, there’s the Avenger Automatic GMT 44 – a solid steel-cased pilot’s watch with either a black or naval-blue dial presented on a military-leather strap or a three-row stainless steel bracelet. Driven by Breitling’s COSC-certified Calibre 32, the 44 flaunts the same diameter as the chronograph models, but with a more compact profile, punctuated by a red GMT hand for effortless reading of Zulu time – the military name for Coordinated Universal Time or UTC – along a 24-hour rotating bezel.
The final addition to the Avengers line-up is the Automatic 42, an excellent go-anywhere watch that has all the robustness of its larger counterparts in a trimmer 42mm case size. Geared with either a black, naval-blue or camo-green dial, the Avenger Automatic shimmers in steel, with Breitling’s Calibre 17 automatic three-hand movement – delivering up to 38 hours of power – beating at its heart.
‘The Avenger was created to stand up to the punishing conditions of a fighter-jet cockpit and to support pilots in extreme aerial exploits. Its redesign demanded nothing less,’ says Breitling’s CEO, Georges Kern, speaking on the revamped collection. Indeed, these latest models are the epitome of Breitling style, offering the perfect storm of steel brawn and lightweight comfort, with visual quirks, too. ‘This collection pairs all the performance with sophisticated modern aviation style.’
From £3,550; breitling.com