A new landmark: Breitling's latest aviation-style timepiece

The Swiss watchmaker creates history as a 1930s Douglas DC-3 flies around the world to launch the new limited-edition Navitimer

(Image credit: Katsuhiko TOKUNAGA/DACT,INC.)

Many brands make aviation watches, but few are as intrinsically entwined with that world as Breitling. It can trace its connection back to the early 1930s, when its precision instruments, previously made for sports, science and industry, became the natural choice for the aeronautical pioneers of the time. Its speciality would morph from cockpit chronographs – a favourite of the armed forces, including the Royal Air Force's World War II fighter planes – to the highly accurate wristwatches it's known for today.

The watchmaker has celebrated this heritage by teaming up with another icon of the skies – the Douglas DC-3. When the aeroplane was launched in the 1930s it epitomised the height of luxury travel, ushering in an age where the prospect of seeing the world was closer than ever before. Breitling will create another landmark moment as it takes a DC-3 on an ambitious global tour, making it the oldest aeroplane to undertake the feat and marking 77 years since its maiden voyage in the United States.

The veteran plane, which originally belonged to American Airlines and had been hired out to the US army from 1942-44, was bought by pilot Francisco Agullo in 2008 and, with the help of Breitling, restored to flying condition. Its latest journey, taking place from March until September, sees it take off from the home of Swiss watchmaking, Geneva, to head for the Middle East and India, followed by Southeast Asia, China, Japan and the US before returning to Europe. Along the way it will visit several events, including the Iwakuni Friendship Day Air Show, before its final stop at the Breitling Sion Airshow in Switzerland.

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A special version of the brand's landmark timepiece, the Navitimer, will accompany the pilots throughout the trip, while the 500-piece limited edition will be on sale in the autumn, presented with a certificate signed by the plane's captain.


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