Many brands offer aviation-themed timepieces, but when you think of fighter pilots and the instrument watches made for them, chances are that one brand comes to mind: Breitling. Here are five Breitling watches that are in stores now* at accessible prices.
Breitling Colt Automatic
Breitling created the Colt in the 1980s. Originally intended for use by the armed forces, the watch developed a wider following in the civilian world and soon established itself as the most accessible Breitling. The Colt features many of the visual cues that give Breitling watches their unmistakable look. The broad unidirectional rotating bezel with a satin-brushed finish and engraved hour-markers features the brand’s trademark rider tabs. These tabs improve the grip on the bezel, making it easy to rotate even when wearing gloves. They also help to protect the glare-resistant sapphire crystal, and they can be used to track elapsed time or to serve as a reminder for a future event. The Breitling Colt’s 44-mm case is water-resistant to 200 meters. The Colt Automatic is powered by the mechanical Breitling Caliber 17, which is a COSC-certified chronometer. The Colt is available with black, blue and silver dials, and a variety of straps and bracelets. The Breitling Colt Automatic is priced from $3,090.
Breitling Superocean 42
For those who enjoy underwater adventure, Breitling created the Superocean. The look is classic yet modern, and the colorful inner bezels give these timepieces an instantly recognizable look. The inner bezels are available in blue, yellow, red or silver, each with a black dial. There are also two limited editions of 2,000 pieces each, one with an orange inner bezel, and the other with matching blue dial and blue inner bezel. The Breitling Superocean case is milled from a solid block of stainless steel. The final product is 42 mm in diameter and water-resistant to 1,500 meters. (A 44-mm version is also available). The screw-locked crown incorporates twin gaskets to seal out water, and the pressure release valve located in the side of the case at 10 o’clock is a mark of a true professional dive watch. The Breitling Superocean is also powered by the COSC-certified Caliber 17 automatic-winding movement.
The Breitling Superocean 42 is priced from $3,295.
Breitling Aerospace Evo
First launched in 1985, the multi-function Aerospace became the face of Breitling’s SuperQuartz-powered instrument timepieces. The movement, which is 10 times more accurate than a standard quartz oscillator, offers a variety of easy-to-use functions, including a 1/100th of a second chronograph, countdown timer, second time zone, alarm, audible time signal and calendar. All of these are accessed and operated by simply rotating and pressing or pulling the crown. The Aerospace also features a very effective backlight system that is compatible with night vision goggles. Fashioned from light yet strong titanium, the 43 mm satin-brushed case is water resistant to 100 meters. The caseback includes conversion scales for English and metric measurements.
The new Breitling Aerospace Evo is available with black, blue or gray dials, and comes fitted with a leather, crocodile leather or rubber strap, or a titanium bracelet, priced from $3,460.
Breitling Super Avenger II Chronograph
Our next selection represents a step up in size, and in mechanical complexity. The Super Avenger II boasts an impressive 48-mm-diameter, polished steel case designed to provide maximum strength and reliability. Water-resistant to 300 meters, the case includes substantial lateral reinforcements for improved shock protection. An extra-thick anti-glare sapphire crystal protects a display that employs oversize hands, numerals and hour markers for improved legibility in all conditions. The chronograph counters measure elapsed periods of 60 seconds, 30 minutes and 12 hours. The Breitling Caliber 13 automatic winding mechanical chronograph movement is a COSC-certified chronometer.
The Breitling Super Avenger II Chronograph is available on a strap or bracelet, priced from $5,335.
Breitling Chronomat 41 Airborne
Our final selection takes us into the rarified realm of in-house Swiss-made chronographs. Only a handful of watch brands produce these movements. Naturally there is a step up in price, but there is also a step up in prestige and exclusivity. The Breitling Chronomat story began in the early 1980s, when Ernest Schneider, who had recently purchased the company from Willy Breitling, learned that the Frecce Tricolori, the Italian airforce aerobatics team, was seeking a manufacturer to create an official watch. Schneider determined to create an all-new aviation chronograph, working in close cooperation with the squadron. The Chronomat launched in 1983, and Schneider decided to make it the flagship of the Breitling brand. In light of that status, in 2009 the Chronomat was the first model fitted with the new Breitling in-house chronograph caliber B01. To celebrate the Chronomat’s 30th anniversary, Breitling has issued a special series, designed to capture the spirit the of the original Frecce Tricolori chronograph. The Breitling Chronomat Airborne is distinguished by its satin-brushed bezel, and a caseback engraved with the inscription “Edition Spéciale 30e Anniversaire” (Special 30th Anniversary Edition), as well as the outline of an Aermacchi, one of the ten planes flown by the Italian squadron. Available with polished steel cases in both 41 mm and 44 mm sizes, the Chronomat Airborne features Breitling’s manufacture Caliber B01, which is a COSC-certified chronometer. The movement runs at 28,800 vph in 47 jewels with a 70 hour power reserve. The dials are available in Onyx Black and Sierra Silver, with choice of military strap or Pilot bracelet.
The Breitling Chronomat Airborne is priced from $8,030.
This article was originally published in 2014; prices are subject to change.