Even if you’re not a plane spotter or an aviation enthusiast, the name Red Arrows might very well ring a bell. The Red Arrows are the RAF’s legendary aerobatic display team that is celebrating its 60th display season this year. What better way to so do than with accurate formation flying, synchronized barrel rolls, and watches? Breitling has a longstanding partnership with the British flying team, and the Swiss watchmaker underlines that with two new Avenger watches — the limited-edition Avenger 42 Red Arrows 60th Anniversary Edition and the non-limited Breitling Avenger B01 Chronograph 44 Red Arrows.

I wrote that even if you’re not a fan of aviation, you probably know of the Red Arrows. But if you are a fan of everything flying, you not only know about the RAF’s aerobatic display team but also the Patrouille de France, Blue Angels, Frecce Tricolori, Patrouille Suisse, and possibly even the Grasshoppers, the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) helicopter display team that got disbanded in 1995. Which of these is the best aerobatic display team is the topic of heated debate. Which is the most famous, however, is not. That is undoubtedly the team in red that has been in the air since 1964. Many of these aerobatic display teams have something material in common — watches with their logos on the dial. The Red Arrows have a partnership with Breitling, and the team members wear Breitling watches in the cockpits of their Hawk T1As.


Two new Breitling Avenger watches for team members of the Red Arrows and normal folk

The watch Red Arrows pilots wear is the Red Arrows Chronomat 42mm (AB01347A1C1A1) with its RAF blue dial, black sub-dials, and Red Arrows Diamond Nine logo. It was available in a limited run of 160 pieces that even non-Red Arrows could buy. But the team members might want to reconsider their watches with the arrival of the Avenger 42 Red Arrows 60th Anniversary Edition and Avenger B01 Chronograph 44 Red Arrows. The pilots can upsize if they want or stay with a trusted 42mm diameter, but the new look will be a bit bolder either way. The Avenger is, after all, a more rugged and sturdy watch than the Chronomat, although the latter has great street cred — sorry, “air cred” — because the Frecce Tricolori made it great in the 1980s.


The Avenger 42 Red Arrows 60th Anniversary Edition is a limited edition of 360 pieces, and a percentage of sales goes towards the important work of the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund. For more than 100 years, the RAF Benevolent Fund has been supporting members of the RAF Family through thick and thin, practically, emotionally, and financially.

Breitling Avenger

Breitling Avenger 42 Red Arrows 60th Anniversary Edition

The Breitling Avenger 42 Red Arrows 60th Anniversary Edition draws its colorway from the flight team’s insignia. Its blue and black dial features red highlights, including the tip of the seconds hand. The team’s crest, originally designed in 1980 and featuring the word éclat (meaning “brilliance”), sits at 9 o’clock, while the case back carries markings commemorating the Red Arrows’ 60th display season and the watch’s LE status. This case back screws into the 42mm steel body, which measures 51.2mm long and 12.1mm thick. It also offers a 300m water resistance rating and houses the Breitling 17 automatic movement. In essence, that is chronometer-certified ETA 2824-2 with a 38-hour power reserve.

We don’t know which of the Red Arrows pilots chose the 42mm watch, but what we do know is that the squadron will be performing a new, fast-paced, and dynamic nine-aircraft display this anniversary year. This special Avenger 42 Red Arrows 60th Anniversary Edition is available on a steel bracelet for £3,900 or an embossed leather strap for £3,650.

Breitling Avenger

The non-limited Avenger B01 Chrono 44 Red Arrows

The biggest differences between the Avenger 42 Red Arrows 60th Anniversary Edition and the Avenger B01 Chrono 44 Red Arrows (£7,950) are the size, the use of black ceramic instead of steel, and the caliber inside. The bigger chronograph uses the in-house B01 movements instead of the ETA-based one. Since every Breitling is a chronometer, so is the B01. The column-wheel-equipped B01 caliber was introduced by the La Chaux-de-Fonds-based Breitling Chronométrie in 2009. It has a power reserve of 70 hours and comes with a five-year warranty. The movement is visible through the transparent case back, which features the inscriptions “Royal Air Force” and “Red Arrows.”

The B01 beats inside a 44 × 53 × 15.2mm black ceramic case and under a blue and black dial with red highlights across the sub-dials, including the squadron’s Diamond Nine formation at 9 o’clock. You also get titanium hardware and a blue military leather strap with contrasting stitching.

Okay, if you were a Red Arrows pilot, which new Breitling watch would you pick — the Avenger 42 in steel or the Avenger B01 Chronograph 44 in black ceramic? Let me know in the comments, and visit the Breitling website for more info.