The name Breitling always seems to stir a certain sense of awe and prestige whenever I hear it. It is certainly a name many watch connoisseurs have heard along their journey in time (forgive the puns). Not only is this Swiss giant famed for its Aviator brand, it has also redesigned its Avenger range of rugged, powerful and yet simply elegant watches. Reviewing this new Breitling Avenger collection certainly sets a bold precedent for future releases.
Being a premium household name in the aviation industry, Breitling has found itself amongst the machinery, clocks and flight equipment aboard counteless aircrafts since the 1930s. Debuting in 2001, the Avenger collection immediately stood apart with its rugged durability and bold dials. With the recent cull of the Breitling Colt, it was great to hear that the Avenger collection is here to stay, with this latest revamp certainly positioning it as one of Breitling’s key pieces. Ear-marked for its performance, it seems only fitting that Breitling Avenger Automatic GMT decided to launch one of its boldest collections into the modern era of aviation.
The Breitling Avenger Automatic GMT collection now comes in 14 new references, 3 case sizes (43mm to 48mm), some colorways and various strap options. Although targeted to pilots and aviation personnel, I believe the Avenger collection would also suit adventurous individuals with a busy, stylish, yet purposeful lifestyle.
Watches come in different dials and sizes and some better than others, fortunately in the case of Breitling, you can be assured that they aren’t cutting any corners when it comes to their watches. In their bid to keep high standards of quality, Breitling have ensured that their Avenger collection of watches all come with Super-LumiNova luminescent hour, minute, and second hands providing an after-glow in the dark (great for all the late sleepers).
So what is Super-LumiNova I hear you say? Well it is luminous material developed by the Swiss to create non-radioactive and highly temperature resistant after-glow in watches. Unlike traditional luminous material such as radium and promethium, Super-LumiNova is said to suffer no ageing (meaning it doesn’t lose its glow after a number of years). This is because it works like a light storage battery, absorbing sunlight or artificial light, using this to power glow emitted at night.
This came as quite a strong positive and selling point for the Avenger collection, as many might know that previous luminous watch pigments contained radioactive elements, which we can all agree is slightly unnerving to hear. Although the radiation levels are almost non-existent, having a non-radioactive option brings much more confidence. All Avenger watches come with a three-register dial, a date window at 3 o’clock and Super-LumiNova luminous-coated hands and numerals. The Chronograph variants however, also include subdials at 12, 6, and 9 o’clock. There is also a choice of dial number register, either as simple indices or military-style stencil-type numbers. Depending on the watch, the dials also come in one of three colours – black, blue, yellow or green. Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of the yellow dial as it does seem a bit too military for me, but I can see where it could appeal to others. For me, the blue dial wins all the time – classy, simple, yet striking.
The Breitling Avenger Automatic GMT collection comes in a range or 43-48mm which should be fine for most, although those with smaller wrists may find it a little clunky at first. There is a choice of stainless steel or DLC-coated titanium (only with Night-mission variants) as material, with the latter being more durable. All Avenger references are water resistance up to 30 bar (300 metres) apart from the clearly specialised Avenger Automatic 45 Seawolf and Seawolf Night Mission variants, which are water resistant up to 300 bar (3000 metres). Seems a bit of an overkill to me, however this brand is targeted toward aviation/military personnel who may have occasions in which that feature is necessary. All the watches in the Avenger collection also come with convex sapphire crystal glass and double anti-reflective coating, meaning there is minimal surface reflection. A word of warning, those who are regular watch polishers should be careful, as I’ve had experiences whereby polishing the case can remove the anti-reflective coating if it gets on the crystal. As most Breitlings have their AR coatings on the outer casing trying to fix scratch marks can become quite costly, in some cases you may need the crystal replaced.
All Avenger watches also come with a steel screwed back caseback, except for the Night Mission variants which have screwed DLC-coated titanium casebacks. Due to the need for optimum water-resistance, all the Avenger watches come with dual gasket screw lock crowns. It is clear that the features for the casing of the Avenger watches are geared towards activity, especially marine related.
The bezel on the watches are unidirectional and ratcheted. This means that the bezel gets locked in position unless a certain amount of force is applied by hand. This is a very useful safety feature for deep-sea and scuba divers, although I’m not sure how practical it would be in day-to-day life. I could just be over-reacting.
As with any premium watch, after the initial aesthetic pleasure has worn off, the wearability factor kicks in. How does it feel on the wrist? What is the strap like? Is performance up to scratch? (I promise, no more puns). Breitling is often known for its powerful movement and durability and does not seem to disappoint either with the Avenger collection. The watches as standard are COSC-certified and use the Breitling Calibre 13, 17 (Seawolf variant) and 32 (GMT complication) for movement. For those who are unaware of what this indicates, these are related to the movement power of the watches and grading. Breitling mentions that for the highest level of performance, they use the highest grade parts for the entire movement, assembling the calibre carefully rather than having it pre-made. While all of that sounds like great marketing to me, my main focus is having a functioning time piece with a long life and fortunately, the Breitling Avenger watches all come with a power reserve of between 38-42 hours. All 17 and 32 calibre Avenger watches come with a self winding, mechanical, bi-directional winder with ball-bearing. The 13 calibre variants however are unilateral. Personally, I prefer my watch to have a bi-directional winder as the free-movement on unidirectional rotors can make them a little noisy. The anthracite, khaki green or blue leather military strap options add a very open, outdoors feel to the collection. Designed to be more hard-wearing, these are clearly geared towards those who will spend the majority of their time outside and active. The collection has however not forgotten the less active but equally stylish audience by offering those who desire it, the classic stainless-steel strap with folding clasp.