With an unprecedented global pandemic gripping our world, it was only to be expected that the world of luxury watches would be hit hard. With the cancellation of the world's main two watch conventions, Watches and Wonders and Baselworld, it looked to be a strange year for watch collectors. Some brands, such as Patek Philippe and Rolex, have delayed the release of new models indefinitely in light of the pandemic. Breitling, however, opted to go a different route. They’ve decided to release their yet unreleased novelties in a rather fitting socially distant way - live on the internet.
Earlier in the year, Breitling released some new versions of watches that are brand favorites. These included the latest version of the SuperOcean 48 and a limited-edition Breitling Avenger.
The newest version of the SuperOcean 48, released earlier this year
Breitling did, however, surprise fans by releasing the Aviator 8 collection of chronograph pilot's watches. A re-imagination of the 1953 Co-Pilot Ref. 765 AVI, the Aviator 8 collection shares numerous design features that tie it to the 67 year old watch that inspired it. With its engraved rotating bezel, extremely legible dial, and 41mm case, it makes for an excellent looking, and functional, pilot’s watch. Its in-house movement was also inspired by its predecessors, as it is powered by the Breitling Manufacture Caliber B09, which is based on the Breitling Caliber 01.
The new Breitling Aviator 8 AVI REF. 765 1953 RE-EDITION
Riding the momentum of this rather fresh release, Breitling released another vintage-inspired piece. This time it was the iconic Breitling Top Time chronograph from the 1960s. Designed to help bring the brand to a younger audience, the Top Time was a hit with its numerous dial designs, chronograph functionality, and entry-level price point. The new Top Time comes with the iconic Zorro dial in a black and white colorway held within a rather casual yet modern 41mm case.
Breitling Top Time Limited Edition
With Breitling's two main releases of 2020 so far being so inextricably tied to their historical past, it is no surprise that their Summit Webcast followed on with this nostalgic theme. Georges Kern, the CEO of Breitling, made it clear that Breitling's 2020 novelties would follow this vintage-inspired theme and have been inspired by the Sea, Air and Land.
Echoing Breitling's tie to the surfing community and water sports as a whole, their first Summit Webcast release was a contemporary interpretation of the SuperOcean collection. The new SuperOcean Heritage '57 watches feature a distinctive concave-shaped bezel with sharp serrations and a clean dial with oversized indexes. As Kern puts it, the SuperOcean collection "embodies the cool and informal surfing lifestyle of the 1960's" - and it certainly does. The SuperOcean 57 has brought out a more fun side of Breitling, and successfully demonstrates that they can create nostalgic pieces without being too reliant on their old designs. The limited-edition Rainbow collection shows this perfectly, as indexes are multi-colored. While it might not seem much for a watch brand to have a bit of fun with their designs, it is undoubtedly a breath of fresh air.
The new SuperOcean Heritage 57' Collection
The new Limited Rainbow SuperOcean Heritage ’57
Kern followed the SuperOcean 57 by showcasing the new Navitimer 35 alongside Yao Chen, Breitling's latest brand ambassador. Designed for women and inspired by Air, the Navitimer 35 is an ultra-modern re-imagination of one of history's most iconic pilot's watches, the Breitling Navitimer. In its 35mm case, the Navitimer 35 comes in 6 references with features such as mother of pearl dials, diamond indexes, and a range of leather straps and different metal bracelets. A fusion of utilitarianism from the original Navitimer and the smaller, more feminine features of a typical woman's watch, the Navitimer 35 is a beautiful piece and will certainly be a hit.
The new Navitimer 35 Collection
Finally, to tie the entire 2020 Breitling Summit Webcast together and complete the Sea, Air, and Land theme, Kern showcased the brand's new Chronomat collection. Calling it "Breitling's new all-purpose sports watch”, Kern was quick to point out that this version of the Chronomat is heavily inspired by the past and executes on that vision differently than any other Chronomat. With four key elements tying it to the 1980s original, the new Chronomat is undoubtedly unique looking.
The new Breitling Chronomat B01 42
With a slimmed-down 42mm case and large round crown, the Chronomat's silhouette is smooth on the eye. The vintage Rouleaux bracelet is an excellent addition to Breitling's repertoire as well. Differentiating the Rouleaux bracelet from most other bracelets is its single link brushed-finish construction, with small polished interlinks visible from every second position down the bracelet. This contrast is charming, and a nice change of pace from the usual bracelets Breitling has a habit of making. Another one of the Chronomat's new features is a unidirectional bezel with interchangeable rider tabs. These rider tabs change the functionality of the Chronomat from a diver's watch to a pilot's watch, as they will either count down, for a pilot, or up, for a diver. A tachymeter is also printed along the inner-bezel to highlight the vintage-inspired functionality of the design. With a reverse panda-look dial, the Chronomat is certainly reminiscent of the 80's style chronographs that have inspired it. Released in five references, the new Chronomat has several dial options and metals to choose from.
2020 has undoubtedly been a big year for Breitling as they look to their past for inspiration. They have adapted well during these trying times, and it will be interesting to see what other brands may also take the live web cast route. Breitling has executed on their designs in a beautiful manner, and the brand seems to be set for success. For more information on Breitling’s new releases, visit breitling.com