If you can read Arabic, then boy, oh boy, this is a treat. Breitling has collaborated with Etihad Airways to produce this handsome addition to the Aviator 8 collection. The Breitling Aviator 8 Day & Date 41 Etihad Airways Limited Edition watch is a real peach. With a warm color scheme and the novelty of numerals in a very attractive script, this would be a relevant entry into any Arabic-speaking enthusiast’s collection, as well as being a stand-out anomaly in any collection, regardless of linguistic leanings. While the day/date function may prove a problem for non-Arabic speakers, the hands still work the same (and if you get lost on the dial, just look for the number 9 to orient yourself).
This partnership is the latest in an up-and-down year for Breitling’s collaboration department. 2019 got off to a very strong start with the release of the Breitling Navitimer 1 B01 Chronograph 43 Swissair Edition watch, which we had the pleasure of catching up with when we were in Basel. Things then dipped slightly with the Breitling Premier B01 Norton Edition, which was very handsome but had the misfortune of following the Bremont Norton watches, which felt more in line with the motorcycle brand, to me.
The next such partnership we covered on aBlogtoWatch was the Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph 42 Wheels and Waves Limited Edition watch. This was a solid entry, but it felt like a less harmonious pairing than that of Breitling and aviation. Something about the brand’s DNA implies its wares should always be zipping skyward, strapped to the wrist of a daredevil pilot, wing-walker, or would-be lemming happy to chuck itself into oblivion just because there’s nothing good on TV. Cars and boats are cool, and they do have their place in the Breitling catalog. It’s just not the number one spot, in my mind.
Then came the Ironman watch. I kind of liked it aesthetically, but the marriage of those two brands was based on the fact that both Ironmen and women and Breitling are tough. It was never going to be worn by a lithe superhuman on an attempt to squeeze every ounce of strength out in pursuit of a mighty goal.
While I wouldn’t quite say the Breitling Aviator 8 Day & Date 41 Etihad Airways Limited Edition watch reaches the heights of the Swissair Navitimer, it is, in my opinion, a very strong entry into the history of Breitling’s association with aviation, which stretches all the way back to 1938 when Willy Breitling established the Huit Aviation Department, which was responsible for the development of Breitling’s wrist chronographs for aviation use.
The name of that department was taken from the French word for “eight,” which was how many days of power reserve the on-board cockpit clocks of the day could muster. It is somewhat ironic, therefore, that the one glaring weakness of the in-house automatic Caliber 45 that powers this COSC-certified timepiece is its power reserve — 40 hours, in this day and age, is really below par, especially when you can get twice that from a bog-standard Hamilton movement (perhaps that is why this movement is hiding behind a closed caseback).
The 41mm black steel case is comfortable on the wrist but has the added presence one would expect from an all-black timepiece. It is, amazingly, Breitling’s first watch to feature Arabic numerals (in Arabic, of course), and I doubt it will be around for long, given that just 500 units are being produced. The price will be $4,995 when it goes on sale in Abu Dhabi this year. Any remaining pieces will be rolled out worldwide in early 2020. Learn more at breitling.com.