Now the Official Timekeeper for Etihad Airways, Swiss watch brand Breitling can trace its aviation roots back
to 1938, when Willy Breitling established the Huit Aviation Department to develop wrist chronographs for pilots. (“Huit” is the French for eight – the number of days’ power reserve needed for on-board cockpit clocks in that era.) Co-designed by the airline, the Aviator 8 Etihad Limited Edition was unveiled at New York Fashion Week in September 2019.
Eye for detail
Within the Breitling Chronométrie complex in La Chaux-de-Fonds, a town in Switzerland’s Jura mountains, highly skilled technicians manually assemble each timepiece inside a spotless, laboratory-like space. “Precision is not confined to the ultra-rigorous measurement of time,” says Tim Sayler, Breitling’s Chief Marketing Officer,
“it also lies in the sharp eye of the experts who attentively monitor every stage of production.”
Nuts and bolts
Within the Breiling Chronométrie production complex, the Aviator 8 is powered by the Breitling Calibre 45 automatic movement, with a self-winding bidirectional rotor that delivers 38 hours of power reserve. A close-up (below left) highlights just how intricate this movement is – scarcely bigger than a fingernail.
A Breitling casing-up specialist inspects an assembled watch: the Aviator 8’s movement and sleek black dial are now set within double anti-reflective sapphire glass and a 41mm DLC-coated black steel case.
Tools of the trade
Technicians need fine tweezers to pick up the movement’s tiny components. Known as one of the world’s great chronograph (meaning: a stopwatch combined with a display watch) makers, Breitling is credited with presenting one of the world’s first ever self-winding chronographs, in 1969.
That’s a strap
Presented on a black leather strap, the dial’s design pays tribute to Etihad’s Emirati heritage by using Arabic numerals – a first for any Breitling watch. Wearers can read the day of the week at the 12 o’clock marker and the date at six o’clock. marker
With its subtly luxurious rose-gold detailing and stylised Arabic script, the Aviator 8 is an exciting example of what happens when one of the most lauded independent Swiss watch brands joins forces with a leading global airline; the first collector’s item in their ongoing collaboration.