Breitling is announcing three new watches today that hearken back to the golden era of aviation, when planes were painted with nose art, and pilots sat strapped in behind large engines and propellers, spinning just feet in front of them. The Breitling Aviator 8 Curtiss Warhawk collection honors Curtiss-Wright, the aviation manufacturer.
Curtiss-Wright came to be out of a merger between a few different aviation companiesâ€“Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company, out of Buffalo, New York, and Wright Aeronautical, from Dayton, Ohio. If Wright sounds familiar, it’s because they were the airplane business founded out of the success of the Wright Brother’s early flight experiments. Curtiss-Wright is still in existence today, and has a long, storied past going back to 1929 when that merger took place.
In 1938, Curtiss-Wright began gearing up for wartime, and supplied the famous P-40 Warhawk from 1938 to 1944. At the same time, Breitling was making on-board instruments for the RAF and other air forces. It’s no secret that Breitling has always been closely associated with aviation.
The Breitling Aviator 8 B01 Chronograph Curtiss Warhawk 43 has a military green dial with three silver-colored sub-dials: A 12 hour, a 30-minute chronograph, and small seconds in the 3-6-9 positions. The watch is powered by the Breitling B01, an excellent chronograph movement that we’ve liked in other watches as well. It’s Breitling’s in-house movement, and it’s excellent, delivering 70 hours of power reserve. The bezel rotates bi-directionally, and has 12 hours worth of Arabic numerals on the bezel insert, making it suitable for a second time zone. The hands and Arabic numerals are lumed with SuperLuminova, making them easy to see at night. The case is 43mm, and water-resistant to 100M. It has a transparent sapphire caseback with the image of the Curtiss P40 Warhawk, with its distinctive shark mouth nose art, when piloted by the American Volunteers group in the Chinese Air Force in the Flying Tigers.
Breitling loves chronographs, and the second watch in the Curtiss-Wright collection is the Breitling Aviator 8 Chronograph 43 Curtiss Warhawk. Right away, you’ll notice that it is not powered by the B01 movement, but instead is driven by the Breitling Caliber 13 chronograph, with subdials in the 6-9-12 positions. The movement has a power reserve of 42 hours, and is capped off by the military green dial on the front face, and a stainless steel case back with the P-40 Warhawk on the back. The bezel insert is the same style bi-directional rotating one, with Arabic numerals and a red triangle at 12. Both chronographs are available on steel bracelets or the military green fabric strap.
But Breitling makes more than just chronographs. There’s a third watch in this collection, with olive military green dial, bi-directional rotating bezel, and very readable Arabic dial. At 41mm diameter, the Breitling Aviator 8 Automatic 41 Curtiss Warhawk is a comfortable size, with a height of just 10.74mm. The movement is the Breitling Caliber 17, a three hand movement, based on the ETA 2824 with the date funtion at 6. The case is coated in black DLC, and the bezel insert is marked with just the red triangle. It’s not exactly a dive watch, due to the bezel insert being mostly blank, and the bezel rotating bi-directionally, but you wouldn’t be wrong for thinking it looks like one. The caseback is a stainless steel that’s been etched with the Curtiss P40 Warhawk, and like the others, it comes on a green military strap. The seconds hand is red-tipped, and the hands and dial are lumed with Super LumiNova.
The Breitling Aviator 8 Curtiss-Wright collection honors a special airplane, at a point in the world’s history when things were in enormous upheaval, with some excellent designs that pay tribute to the planes and the men who built them. Aviation is clearly deeply ingrained in Breitling. For more information on the collection, go to Breitling.com.