Flying Tigers of Time: Breitling Aviator 8 Curtiss P-40 Warhawk Collection

Curtiss Wright was a famous American manufacturer of aircraft and the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, produced between 1938 and 1944, was its most historically significant plane, piloted by the so-called Flying Tigers — a group of American volunteers in the Chinese Air Force — during World War II. Breitling, perhaps the watch brand most closely tied to aviation history, now pays tribute to this classic warplane and its place in both Chinese and American history with three new timepieces: the Aviator 8 Curtiss P-40 Warhawk collection, all sporting a distinctly military look.

Breitling Aviator 8 Curtiss Warhawk Editions - group
The Breitling Aviator 8 Curtiss Warhawk editions include two chronographs and a three-hand with date.

The simplest of the pieces, the Breitling Aviator 8 Automatic 41 Curtiss Warhawk, uses military green for its dial and strap and DLC-coated stainless steel for its 41-mm case. Its hour and minute hands and Arabic hour numerals are coated with Super-LumiNova, and a date aperture appears at 6 o’clock. A small red pointer marks 12 o’clock on the bidirectional rotating bezel, echoing the numeral “60” on the minute track and the red tip of the central seconds hand. Powering the watch is the self-winding Breitling 17 caliber, based on the ETA 2824-2, with a 40-hour power reserve and a COSC chronometer certification. This movement is guarded behind a screwed steel caseback engraved with the Curtiss logo and the famous “shark’s mouth”-painted P-40 Warhawk plane.

Breitling Aviator 8 Automatic 41 Curtiss Warhawk - reclining
Breitling Aviator 8 Automatic 41 Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, front (above) and back (below)
Breitling Aviator 8 Automatic 41 Curtiss Warhawk - Caseback

One of two chronograph models in the family, The Aviator 8 Chronograph 43 Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, is equipped with the ETA 7750-based Breitling Caliber 13, a self-winding, COSC-certified movement possessing a 42-hour power reserve and tallying chronograph readouts of 30 minutes and 12 hours, respectively, on the tone-on-tone military green subdials at 12 and 6 o’clock. The running seconds are displayed another subdial at 9 o’clock and a day and a double-window day-date display occupies the position at 3 o’clock. Super-LumiNova enhances the legibility of the nickel-plated hands and Arabic hour numerals. The watch’s 100-meter water resistance is ensured by the screw-locked crown between the chrono pushers and the solid, screwed caseback with its Curtiss engraving, matching that of the Automatic. The 43-mm-diameter steel-cased watch comes on a “sand-colored” military strap.

Breitling Aviator 8 Chronograph 43 Curtiss Warhawk - angle
Breitling Aviator 8 Chronograph 43 Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, front (above) and back (below)
Breitling Aviator 8 Chronograph 43 Curtiss Warhawk - Caseback

Also in a 43-mm stainless steel case with a notched, bidirectional rotating bezel, the Aviator 8 B01 Chronograph 43 Curtiss P-40 Warhawk contains an in-house movement, the Breitling Caliber B01. This COSC-certified, self-winding movement is distinguished by its column-wheel-driven integrated chronograph function, with vertical coupling, and its impressive 70-hour power reserve. the dial layout differs from that of the other chronograph not only in its arrangement of subdials (30-minute counter at 3 o’clock, 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock, small seconds at 9 o’clock, with a date window slotted in at 4:30) but also in their color, here in contrasting silvery white rather than tone-on-tone military green. The B01 Chronograph is the only one of the Curtiss p-40 Warhawk editions to include a transparent sapphire window in the caseback, albeit one that also features a printed image of the warplane with its “Flying Tigers” shark imagery and the historical Curtiss logo. Prices and retail availability for the watches had yet to be set at press time.

Breitling Aviator 8 B01 Chronograph 43 Curtiss Warhawk - reclining
Breitling Aviator 8 B01 Chronograph 43 Curtiss Warhawk, front (above) and back (below).
Breitling Aviator 8 B01 Chronograph 43 Curtiss Warhawk - reclining

Vintage Eye for the Modern Guy: Evant Decodiver

Some of my favorite watches to cover these days have been those produced by smaller brands. Whether they’re brands I’ve written about for this series, such as Maen and Nezumi, or those I’ve been beaten to covering by WatchTime editor Logan Baker (he’s quick), such as Brew and Seals Watch Co.— what has impressed me most about these micro-brands is their “blank slate” freedom of design, and the resulting stylistic creativity that emerges from it. As no one who reads these columns would find surprising, I find this process most interesting in vintage-inspired watches.

Evant Decodiver - blue - angle

It’s fascinating to observe how these companies mix and match old designs with new, placing the watches and their burgeoning stories in the canon of the industry’s history, with the ultimate goal of creating new and interesting pieces that strive to find lasting space for themselves on the wrists of modern consumers. This week we come to another such brand, and another historical remix of a watch design, in the Evant Decodiver. The 2018-released watch is an amalgam of mostly 1960s and ‘70s designs in the pursuit of a contemporary and fashionable dive watch.

Evant Decodiver - black - flat

From its outside in, the Decodiver treads into experimental design territory. With a multi-faceted 41-mm steel case and a 4 o’clock crown, the design seems like a cross between a 1968 Seiko 6159-7001 and an old, military-grade British G10 field watch, though the brand only explicitly refers to legendary watch designer Gérald Genta as an inspiration for the case. Its rounded unidirectional bezel is filled with a ceramic insert — itself a very uncommon trait at this price point — and does well in imitating the Bakelite inserts common from the 1950s through the 1970s. I’m most reminded of those produced by Blancpain in the Fifty Fathoms and Bathyscaphe models, with this source possibly further referenced in the Arabic numerals and diamond-shaped 12 o’clock marker on the watch’s dial.

Evant Decodiver - blue - dial CU

On the face, behind the painted hour markers, is a sunburst fumé color scheme produced in blue and the (now sold out) black style. This style of dial reached its peak in the 1970s, and might be best remembered today through Glashütte Original and its heritage collections. Other dial details include the applied steel accented hour markers between each of the quarter positions; slim, almost-dauphine hour and minute hands alongside a vintage-style seconds hand; and some suave, script dial descriptors at the top and bottom of the dial. Overall, I don’t think I can accurately attribute this style of dial to any specific brand’s designs, but in the combination of these elements — especially the fumé color, hour markers, and hands— the funky ’70s styling is clear.

Evant Decodiver - caseback

Powering the watch and protected by a simple screw-down caseback is the automatic ETA 2824 movement, storing a 38-hour power reserve. This ETA caliber is a very common and reliable movement for both start-up and established brands alike, so it’s good to see its use by Evant. The piece, as expected of a diver, is accented throughout with Super-LumiNova and has a 300-meter dive rating—although it’s conspicuously not offered with a diving-appropriate rubber strap, with the manufacturer instead opting for leather. Currently, the watch is available through Evant for $599, and is backed by a two-year warranty.

Evant Decodiver - blue dial - lume

As a whole, the watch does well in bringing together a variety of details from over two decades in one coherent piece. More importantly, for all the different elements and allusions to the past it displays, it’s overall a unique and handsome watch unlike any other on the market today. I will add that some writers have noted the finishing on the case and dial, specifically in the brushing of the steel and application of Super-LumiNova, was not at the standard they would have liked, though for a start-up taking on such a complicated design this isn’t unexpected. In all likelihood, Evant will continue its trend of releasing a new limited series each year, and with luck 2019 will hold an even further refined and more meticulously polished version of the Decodiver.

Evant Decodiver - black dial - soldier

For the most recent article in the “Vintage Eye” series, in which we compare the Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph 42 with its historical inspirations, click here.

Caleb Anderson is a freelance writer with a primary focus on vintage watches. Since first discovering horology, he has garnered extensive knowledge in the field and spends much of his time sharing his opinions among other writers, collectors, and dealers. Currently located near New York City, he is a persistent student in all things historical, a writer on many topics, and a casual runner.