Revving Up The Engines For The New Breitling Aerospace EVO Red Arrows Watch
Breitling announces a new variation on its longstanding Aerospace EVO model. Following last year’s Chronomat B01 model, this new Aerospace EVO has the famous Red Arrows “diamond nine” insignia at the 3 o’clock position. The BAE Systems Hawk T1 fast jets of the Royal Air Force aerobatic squadron typically fly in this formation at the beginning and end of its display. While the dial represents nine jets, a tenth jet usually hangs back to observe the precision of the pilots for continuous improvements. The Aerospace EVO that forms the watch’s base has been unchanged since its introduction in 2013. Nevertheless, it is an incredibly solid base to represent the world-renowned British aerobatic flying squadron.
The Fratello Watches team has a bit of a Breitling Aerospace obsession. It’s not as overt as our Speedmaster obsession, but at least six members of the team have an Aerospace from its nearly 40-year history. In 1985, Breitling unveiled its quartz-powered multi-function wristwatch designed with pilots in mind. In the burgeoning industry where airlines such as Ryanair and Virgin Atlantic commenced flights, the analog-digital (ana-digi) Aerospace was the perfect accompaniment for the cockpit. With the minute hand shifting position every 30 seconds, it’s up to the two digital displays to convey critical information. A quick turn of the crown at the first position cycles through the various functions. The “complications” include an alarm (great for shifts on long-haul flights), a chronograph with milliseconds, a second timezone, a countdown timer, and a perpetual calendar.
A history of my connection to the Aerospace
My first Aerospace was a gift from my father in 2014 for beginning my professional career. The particular model he gave me was his 2006 Breitling Aerospace Avantage. Breitling introduced the ref. E79362 in 2005 and changed the name to “Aerospace Avantage”. The advantage this reference brought was the backlight on the LCD screens, which you activate by turning the crown slowly. In 2007, the name reverted to just “Aerospace”, with the COSC text on the dial changing from “Chronometre Certifie” to “Chronometre Aerospace.” The designation change makes my 2006 version a relatively short-lived model in the Aerospace timeline. This reference also includes the minute repeater introduced a decade prior. The minute repeater activates by pressing the crown, which produces audible beeps for hours, quarters, and minutes. My golf swing also seems to set it off.
This Avantage was my father’s second Breitling Aerospace and the final watch he wore in the cockpit as a captain for a commercial airline. I wasn’t expecting how obsessive I would become over this timepiece and watchmaking. Proudly wearing this Breitling was the spark that ignited my passion for all things horological, despite it being quartz.
The features of the 2013 Aerospace EVO were primarily the same, but the build quality took a step up. Going from a 41mm Grade 2 titanium case to 43mm was notable but allowed the dial to widen with lumed numerals at the hours. The oversized military-esque 3, 6, 9, and 12 digits remain with a polished sheen offsetting the matte gray titanium case, bezel, and bracelet. But a new addition was the applied Breitling wings logo that was previously printed on the dials. Turning the unidirectional bezel feels more precise on the EVO, and the rider tabs line up with more accuracy.
Short-term scarcity of the Aerospace EVO
In late 2019, stock of Aerospace EVO models became scarce, and this continued long into 2021. I had luck finding a black-dial Aerospace at the beginning of 2020 thanks to a fellow Breitling collector in Prague. But locating an EVO in the UK was a rarity. Towards the end of last year, supply came back, following a brief period with the threat of discontinuation. While nearly ten years seems quite long in the tooth for a digital watch, the Aerospace EVO still performs well. Nowhere is this demonstrated better than this new launch with the RAF Red Arrows squadron. I’ve been watching displays by the Red Arrows my whole life and as recently as last year. The Red Arrows display is a mainstay of any significant event in the UK, including the British Grand Prix and this year’s Platinum Jubilee.
During last year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, the Red Arrows team gave an emphatic display after being grounded for most of 2020. The emblem of the “diamond nine” is prominently showcased on the Aerospace EVO’s dial, as with most Red Arrows merchandise. Even the teacups are stored on the wall in this formation with each pilot’s number (Red 1, Red 2, etc.) in the cafeteria of its RAF Scampton base (although the team is planning to move headquarters to RAF Waddington soon after this displaying season). Being such a big fan of the Red Arrows, it’s somewhat annoying that I already picked up a blue-dial Aerospace EVO earlier this year. Perhaps a part exchange is in order, but I’d need to be quick. This watch is limited to 350 pieces worldwide.
Along with the watch is a commemorative zinc alloy coin authorized by the Ministry of Defence. One side displays the famous “diamond nine” formation while the other shows the Breitling “B” logo.
Aerospace EVO Red Arrows price and availability
The Breitling Aerospace EVO Red Arrows will be available at boutiques and authorized dealers across the UK. It will also be available online at Breitling.com. If you’re unfamiliar with the Aerospace EVO, the SuperQuartz™ caliber B79 is a COSC-certified chronometer with 3-4 years of battery life. The thermo-compensation of the SuperQuartz™ movement maintains the accuracy between ±10 seconds over a year. And despite the lack of a screw-down crown, the lightweight Grade 2 titanium case achieves 100 meters of water resistance. For this special model, the Eclat crest replaces the usual conversion metrics on the case back. Even with the 43mm diameter, the Aerospace EVO is incredibly wearable. The 10.8mm case height and comfortable Professional Titanium III bracelet help greatly in that regard.
The Aerospace is perfect for including unique emblems and logos for various flying squadrons worldwide. That’s best exemplified by the Fratello team’s Aerospace watches, from Bert’s RAF 28 Squadron with Merlin dial (below) to Rob’s Everest Skydive edition. Breitling’s partnership with the Royal Air Force dates back to the 1930s with onboard chronographs.
Similarly, the Red Arrows collaboration has enjoyed 30-year longevity. It has included many timepieces, such as 2021’s Chronomat B01, which we covered here. Between that watch and the Aerospace EVO Red Arrows, it would make for a nice two-watch collection. Whereas the Chronomat was £6,900, the EVO is more attainable at £3,500 for each of the 350 pieces. This is only £100 more than the standard Aerospace.
It’ll be interesting to see where Aerospace goes from here. We’ve seen Bluetooth-connected Professional watches from Breitling, including the B55 Connected. But these timepieces have since left the catalog and been replaced with the Endurance PRO. The Endurance PRO uses a similar SuperQuartz™ movement but focuses the functionality on the chronograph. It also uses the proprietary Breitlight® case with 100% Swiss-made polymer composite. I’d love to see this material spread to the Aerospace, as the DLC-coated titanium Aerospace EVO Night Mission tends to scratch, revealing the base color. The Breitlight® has the same dark tone but is virtually scratch-resistant, so it could replace the DLC as the new Night Mission. Would I also want a smart/connected Aerospace? Perhaps the current market demands it, and we’ve seen TAG Heuer enter the smartwatch game. But I’m still on the fence, as I appreciate the long battery life and accuracy despite being “offline.”
Finally, I’ll leave you with this quote by Tom Bould, Red 1 and Team Leader of the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team:
“Timing is critical to the world-class, dynamic displays and colorful flypasts synonymous with the Red Arrows. The team has to arrive at the right place, at the right time anywhere around the world, to the second — often with millions watching in-person or many more enjoying the performances via global media coverage. This precision and attention-to-detail are hallmarks shared by the Red Arrows and Breitling. But our mutual dedication and focus go further than that. We’re pleased to have a longstanding relationship with another organization that understands how to combine this unrelenting requirement for precision with creativity, innovation, and style.”
Well said, Mr. Bould. Find out more about Breitling here.