Two decades after Breitling’s Huit Aviation Department made its name creating precision cockpit clocks and dedicated wrist chronographs for the aeronautics sector, the Swiss luxury watchmaker introduced the Ref. 765 AVI, a pilot’s chronograph with a rotating 12-hour bezel for recording flight times. Scoring top marks for ease of use and legibility, it quickly proved indispensable for aviators and was renamed the AVI “Co-Pilot”.
Another 70 years later, Breitling has released a smaller version of the 46mm Super AVI that maintains its design codes but works for most wrists – the Classic AVI in a 42mm format achieved by including the trim Breitling Caliber 23 chronograph movement and excluding the GMT complication in the Super AVI.
“People love the sturdy, understated look of the Super AVI, but not everyone has the wrist to pull off the extra-large size that gives it its authentic tool-watch feel,” says Breitling CEO Georges Kern. “The Classic AVI trades some functions to achieve the pared-down format our customers have been asking for. The Classic and Super models will now live side by side, providing more choice.”
The collection honours four of history’s most remarkable aircraft with appropriate colour schemes: the North American Aviation P-51 Mustang, the Vought F4U Corsair, the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, and the de Havilland Mosquito.
Meanwhile, a black ceramic model has been added to the Super AVI line. The Super AVI Mosquito Night Fighter is inspired by the Night Fighter 2, an all-black two-seater aircraft designed for stealth. The watch has a black dial with anthracite subdials and fastens with a black military leather strap, a striking colour contrast with the titanium pushers, crown, and buckle. Wearers can track a second timezone using the 24-hour scale on the inner bezel and the grey-tipped GMT hand. It is fitted with the COSC-certified Breitling Manufacture Caliber B04 movement, which provides around 70 hours of power.
The surprise for collectors is a limited re-edition of The Ref. 765 AVI 1964. The watch was first released in 1953 as a trusted flight instrument for pilots working from the confines of a single-seat cockpit, then refined in the 60s for broader appeal. The popular 1964 model, with a black bezel and reverse-panda dial, is the subject of this year’s limited re-edition of 164 faithfully reproduced pieces. It includes a true-to-the-time hesalite crystal, the same baton indexes and lumed pencil hands used on the original, and a hand-wound manufacture movement, the Caliber B09, in keeping with its vintage character.