The Breitling Aviator 8 Automatic 41 Curtiss Warhawk is the latest version of the Navitimer 8 Automatic. In stainless steel with black DLC coating and an olive drab dial, it has a green canvas strap for an authentic military feel. Its functional simplicity reflects that of the classic pilot’s watches and cockpit panel instruments made by Breitling during the WW2 period. With 100 metres water resistance and screw-down crown, it is a practical all-weather watch that can be worn for water sports.
The Aviator 8 Automatic is a good example of Georges Kern’s approach to giving new life to the Breitling brand, starting from a revision of the range. “How can you have an aviation brand that doesn’t have a simple pilot’s watch?” he said, introducing the Navitimer 8 in 2018. The “8” name is based on Breitling’s Huit Aviation department founded in 1938 specifically for the manufacture of cockpit instruments and watches, and at that time, cockpit clocks had a standard power reserve of eight days. The name change from Navitimer to Aviator indicates the different design themes of the new range. The circular slide-rule that hallmarks the Navitimer is not present in the Aviator 8 watches.
Bi-directional rotating bezel
The Aviator 8 Automatic is based on the Breitling Reference 768, a pilot’s watch produced from about 1940. That model had a small seconds subdial at 6 o’clock and the fluted bidirectional rotating bezel that remains an important characteristic of the new Aviator 8. The rotating bezel with reference triangle makes the watch into a very simple chronograph: you can take approximate readings of elapsed time using the minute hand, or set up a countdown, whether for a course to fly for 5 minutes or the 6 minutes required for your wife’s perfect soft-boiled eggs.
Precision in the smallest details
The Aviator 8 Automatic 41 Curtiss Warhawk’s detail design is superb, a tribute to the work of Guy Bove, Breitling’s new Creative Director whose previous experience includes IWC, Chopard and Ferdinand Berthoud. Though the piece is based on historical precedents, it has been brought up-to-date by means of the design of the numerals and typography, the sleek bezel with its 60 rugged-style notches, the railroad track minutes scale with triangle hour markers matching the red reference triangle on the bezel, and the bevelled hands. The difference in the width of the minute and hour hands looks a little curious at first sight, but it is another feature taken from the Reference 768 for which it was presumably intended to further help distinguish between the two. The lengths of the hand are perfect for the minute and hour indications, and the red triangular tip of the seconds hand provides a visual link to the red marker on the bezel. Hands and numerals are coated with SuperLumiNova.
The lugs are short, making the 41 mm diameter and 10.74 mm thickness very wearable. The solid caseback bears the Curtiss logo and a P-40 Warhawk with its classic shark’s mouth décor. Inside, the Breitling Calibre 17 runs at 4 Hertz (28,800 vibrations per hour) and provides about 38 hours power reserve. Based on the ETA 2824-2, the movement is chronometer-certified by COSC.
The Aviator 8 Automatic 41 Curtiss Warhawk costs €3,900 inclusive of VAT. Read more at https://www.breitling.com