Breitling Marks 70 Years Of The AVI Co-Pilot With Two Collections And A Bonus 1964 Re-Edition
Today is a watch launch bonanza from Breitling. The brand does not want to stagger the releases and unveils seven new watches within the AVI range. This line began with the Breitling AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition from 2020, which now sits alongside 14 watches ranging from 41mm to 46mm in diameter. Each new 42mm Classic AVI chronograph pays homage to classic aircraft. The 46mm Super AVI “Mosquito Night Fighter” extends the Chronograph GMT range with an in-house Breitling B04 caliber and black ceramic case. Last but not least is my favorite, the stunning AVI Ref. 765 1964 Re-Edition with a manually wound in-house Breitling B09 caliber and period-correct Hesalite crystal. The 1964 re-edition has a limitation of 164 pieces, making it an appealing proposition.
In 2021, the Super AVI Chronograph GMT took the Co-Pilot aesthetic from the 1953 re-edition and gave it a burly overhaul. The 46mm case was unpalatable for our Thor Svaboe. I, however, grew to appreciate its legibility for a chronograph with GMT function. Even so, the case does not suit all wrist sizes; therefore, the new Classic AVI bridges the gap from the authentic “capsule” recreations at 41mm to the GMT at 46mm. With a 42mm diameter, the new Classic AVI models will find a home with those who like the look but prefer greater wearability. The Classic AVI retains the 12-hour bidirectional bezel with ratcheting at each hour increment. Also consistent are the design codes honoring four aircraft — the North American Aviation P-51 Mustang, the Vought F4U Corsair, the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, and the de Havilland Mosquito.
Breitling Classic AVI Chronograph 42
As Thor said, you’re either blessed with big wrists or “…you will need to work out those forearms” to carry off the 46mm Super AVI chronograph GMT. This substantial diameter is why the new 42mm Classic AVI intends to provide an easy-wearing watch that works for most wrists. Following the same themes as the GMT model, each watch reflects its namesake aircraft, with only the North American Aviation P-51 Mustang rendered in two metal choices of stainless steel and 18K red gold. While there is a mimicry of the colors between the 42mm and 46mm, the apparent difference is the lack of GMT function on the new Classic AVI range. The chronograph GMT version clearly contrasts its scales, but the Breitling manufacture B04 caliber requires a substantial case to house its construction.
The Classic AVI eschews the GMT complication, and the chronograph caliber B23 is based on an ETA 7753. While you don’t get the prowess of an in-house Breitling movement, the 14.7mm profile of the case is 1.2mm slimmer than its Super AVI counterpart, which pairs nicely with the smaller diameter. That said, using the Breitling 23 caliber also cuts the power reserve from 70 hours to 48 hours. Another change is the solid case back instead of a display back with a sapphire crystal. Depending on your stance, an all-metal case back might be a benefit as it leans more into the tool aesthetic. An aircraft engraving on each model represents each of the four planes in portrait view. There is a choice of a top-stitched calfskin strap or a five-row metal bracelet for each model.
Prices for the Breitling Classic AVI Chronograph 42 vary from €5,800–5,900 in steel on leather, €6,100–6,200 in steel on steel, €19,000 in gold on leather, and €37,000 in gold on gold.
Breitling Super AVI Mosquito Night Fighter
Next up is an additional entrant to the Super AVI collection. The Super AVI Mosquito Night Fighter takes my previous favorite de Havilland Mosquito model and renders it in black ceramic. It’s rare to see all-ceramic Breitling references. The last one I recall with an all-black ceramic case was the crazy-expensive €37,360 Superocean Heritage Chronoworks from 2016. I must say, it’s good to see ceramic making a return here. The new Super AVI takes inspiration from the de Havilland Mosquito Night Fighter 2, an all-black two-seater Mosquito aircraft meant to slip stealthily through the night sky. Besides the stealthy appearance, the Breitling Super AVI Mosquito Night Fighter retains the fantastic chronograph GMT layout, albeit with less contrast between the black dial and bezel and the anthracite sub-dials and 24-hour scale.
Still, the indications are legible and remind me of the Superocean Heritage Chronoworks without the steep and, admittedly, experimental price. The size is also in line with the Super AVI range at 46mm wide and 15.9mm thick. It’s big indeed, but the Super AVI Mosquito Night Fighter emits a powerful presence, paying homage to a legendary aircraft. Unlike the Classic AVI, the B04 Breitling Manufacture GMT chronograph movement is visible via the sapphire exhibition window, with the Night Fighter 2 laser etching on the crystal. You also have the 70-hour power reserve and blue-emitting Super-LumiNova luminescence on the numerals, indexes, and hands. Part of me likes the tool-ish nature of the watch with the brushed black ceramic case, but I also wish for a more petite 42mm example in the Classic AVI range.
Maybe that is to come, but for now, the Super AVI Mosquito Night Fighter is available on a black military-style textured calfskin strap with a titanium folding clasp for €11,950.
Breitling AVI Ref. 765 1964 Re-Edition
Saving the best for last, here’s the limited re-edition of the 1964 AVI Co-Pilot. This watch demonstrates the influence of esteemed vintage watch expert and Breitling consultant Fred Mandelbaum. The AVI Ref. 765 1964 is incredibly authentic to its vintage forebear from, you guessed it, 1964. This model has a black bezel, a reverse-panda dial, and a vibrant red triangle marker on the 12-hour scale. Breitling recreated these details while modernizing the materials and manufacturing techniques. For instance, the black bezel is amorphous diamond-like carbon (ADLC) for better durability. Likewise, keeping the spirit of the original is the hand-wound chronograph movement, the modern in-house Breitling B09, which is, essentially, a B01 without the rotor and more refined finishing. The lack of a rotor allows the 41mm stainless steel case to remain appropriately svelte at 14mm thick.
That’s not to say that the AVI Ref. 765 1964 re-edition is fully contemporized. The crystal over the dial is Hesalite rather than sapphire, and there’s a snap-on solid steel case back and a non-screw-down crown. This means that this model is only water resistant to 30 meters, unlike the rest of the AVI collection at 100 meters. But these features showcase the harmonious meeting of old and new, further seen in the minimal and unobtrusive logo on the dial. Perhaps a more contentious element is the vintage beige luminescent accents on the hands and numerals. I like the subtle integration; the additional color offers a nice balance. The AVI Ref. 765 1964 re-edition would look too clinical with white lume, and the five lumed interval markers on the minute counter provide a lovely motif.
The Breitling AVI Ref. 765 1964 re-edition is limited to 164 pieces at €8,300 on the black vintage-inspired leather strap with pin buckle.
The Classic AVI trades the GMT function and in-house movement to achieve a pared-back format that suits particular wrists. At 42mm for the Classic and 46mm for the Super, there are far more options to experience the tributes to each legendary aircraft. The Classic and Super AVI models will exist side by side, but the addition of the AVI Ref. 765 1964 limited edition excites me the most from today’s launch, and I can’t wait to see them in the wild. You can find more details on the Breitling website here.