May 26, 2023
To celebrate the 70th anniversary of its original ref. 765 AVI “Co-Pilot” watch, Breitling has announced seven new AVI chronograph models that will be joining the brand’s catalog for 2023. Included in this latest batch of releases is a new black ceramic rendition of the 46mm Super AVI that is inspired by the Mosquito Night Fighter airplane, along with a limited-edition vintage reissue piece that pays tribute to a specific version of the ref. 765, which was produced in 1964. However, arguably the most noteworthy new models from this latest batch of releases are the other five watches, which collectively form the new Breitling Classic AVI Chronograph 42 collection. Taking the core design of the brand’s original 46mm Super AVI series and distilling it down (both in terms of its size and features), the new 42mm Classic AVI Chronograph models offer much of the same utilitarian aesthetic, but in a significantly more compact overall package.
Similar to the larger 46mm Super AVI series, the new Breitling Classic AVI Chronograph 42 makes its debut appearance as four stainless steel models and one crafted from solid 18k red gold. Additionally, the various options available for the new 42mm lineup largely follow in the footsteps of their larger counterparts, and the quartet of new stainless steel watches each pay tribute to a different famous aircraft from history: the North American Aviation P-51 Mustang, the Vought F4U Corsair, the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, and the de Havilland Mosquito. Furthermore, just like Breitling’s 46mm Super AVI series, the solid gold version of the new 42mm Classic AVI Chronograph is also dedicated to the P-51 Mustang, and rather than just being a gold version of the steel model, this luxury-oriented rendition also receives a different dial to better compliment the warm tones of its case.
Compared to the 46mm Super AVI series, the new Breitling Classic AVI Chronograph 42 watches are smaller in every single dimension possible, and they feature cases that measure 42mm in diameter by 14.7mm thick, with 22mm lugs and an overall lug-to-lug profile of 48mm. Similar to the Super AVI models, a domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment on both sides sits above the dial, and it is surrounded by a bidirectional rotating bezel that has a 12-hour scale engraved upon it. While four of the five models have bezels crafted from the same metal as their cases, the version that pays tribute to the Mosquito aircraft is fitted with a bezel that has a black ceramic insert. Access to the movement is granted by a signed screw-down crown and a pair of pump-style pushers that are located on the 3 o’clock side of the case, while a solid stainless steel caseback adorned with an airplane engraving screws down to the middle case in order to help provide the new Breitling Classic AVI Chronograph 42 with 100 meters of water resistance.
Despite the numerous aesthetic similarities between the new Breitling Classic AVI Chronograph 42 and the larger 46mm Super AVI series, the two models are actually fairly different watches when it comes to their features and functionality. While the 46mm Super AVI is a 12-hour chronograph that offers both a date display and an independently adjustable GMT hand, the new Breitling Classic AVI Chronograph 42 is a standard three-register chronograph that lacks any type of additional complications whatsoever. Part of how Breitling was able to achieve the smaller 42mm case size of these new models was by using a different movement that offers fewer features, and omitting both the date display and GMT hand enables the new Breitling Classic AVI Chronograph 42 to offer a noticeably more compact profile compared to the feature-packed Super AVI models and their 46mm cases.
The difference in functionality between the new Breitling Classic AVI Chronograph 42 models and their larger 46mm Super AVI counterparts is due to the different movements that are used to power them. While the Super AVI series features Breitling’s own manufacture Caliber B04, the new 42mm Classic AVI Chronograph watches run on the Breitling Caliber 23 automatic movement. Based on the core design of the ETA 7753, the Breitling Cal. 23 is a self-winding, cam-actuated chronograph that runs at a frequency of 28,800vph (4 Hz), while offering users a power reserve of approximately 48 hours. Additionally, just like all of the movements that are used to power modern Breitling watches, the Caliber 23 is COSC chronometer-certified and is therefore guaranteed to run within -4 to +6 seconds per day.
While the dials fitted to the five different Breitling Classic AVI Chronograph 42 watches all follow the same overall design with a three-register layout and large luminous Arabic numeral hour markers, each one appears in a different color, and these same colorways can also be found across the 46mm Super AVI collection. Inspired by the aircraft that lend their names to this series of watches, a classic black dial is used to represent the Mustang, a dark blue dial serves as tribute to the naval Corsair, a khaki green dial symbolizes the Warhawk, and a black and white “reverse panda” dial is used to capture the appearance of the Mosquito airplane. Additionally, the hands and sub-dials fitted to the various models incorporate colors from their respective aircraft’s roundels and markings, and while the stainless steel model that pays tribute to the Mustang is fitted with a simple black dial, the 18k rose gold edition receives a gray dial with contrasting black chronograph registers.
All five of the new Breitling Classic AVI Chronograph 42 watches are available with the option of a leather strap or matching metal bracelet. Crafted from either stainless steel or 18k rose gold to compliment the case of the watch, the bracelets fitted to the new Classic AVI Chronograph 42 models feature the brand’s signature slanted five-link design, and they fasten on the bottom of the wrist with butterfly-style folding clasps. Meanwhile, the leather straps fitted to the new 42mm Classic AVI models are available in either black or brown, and they offer a top-stitched design that tapers from 22mm at the lugs down to 18mm where they connect to their signed deployant buckles. With that in mind, given that the cases all use standard lugs, virtually any 22mm strap with flat ends will be compatible with the new Classic AVI Chronograph 42 models, and Breitling even allows its own straps to be purchased separately directly from its website.
In addition to being quite a bit smaller than the 46mm Super AVI series, the new Breitling Classic AVI Chronograph 42 watches are also significantly less expensive than their larger counterparts. Part of the substantial difference in price is due to the fact that the new 42mm models are less complex timepieces and lack the date displays and GMT functionality of the Super AVI collection. However, an even greater factor behind their lower price point is simply that these new models use ETA-based movements rather than one of Breitling’s own in-house calibers. Many Breitling watches have seen significant price increases in recent years after being updated to run on manufacture movements, so it is refreshing to see this latest 42mm series retain a more accessible price point.
While the absolute least expensive Super AVI models will set you back a minimum of five figures, the new stainless steel Breitling Classic AVI Chronograph 42 watches cost $5,800 USD when purchased on a leather strap, or $6,100 when fitted with the brand’s five-link metal bracelet. Add an extra $100 to that if you plan on getting the Mosquito model (which comes at a small premium due to its ceramic bezel insert), and if you want the 18k red gold version, you will be looking at $19,500 USD when paired with a leather strap, or $38,200 USD with its matching solid gold bracelet. Given that the Navitimer, Chronomat, Premier, and Top Time collections have all been updated to run on manufacture calibers, the new 42mm Classic AVI models are some of the most affordable Breitling chronographs currently available, and they make the brand’s AVI collection of pilot’s watches significantly more accessible — both in terms of its price point and the range of wrist sizes that can comfortably wear them. For more information on the Breitling Classic AVI Chronograph 42, please visit the brand’s website.