Currents within the Air: Evaluation of the Breitling Aviator Eight B01 Chronograph Mosquito | WatchTime
In the ongoing retro wave, the Aviator 8 collection reinterprets Breitlings early pilot’s watches without simply duplicating them. In this in-depth recap from our October 2020 issue, we watch the latest Aviator 8 model, the B01 Chronograph Mücke, keeps up with modern everyday life. (Original photos by Olaf Köster.)
Just as a gusty wind can sometimes turn into a storm, the timepieces in Breitling’s Aviator 8 family have changed a lot. The collection, which was introduced as the Navitimer 8 in early 2018, has since become the Aviator 8, albeit without attracting much attention. The move now appears to be complete – and the new line reflects the long history that Breitling has associated with aviation.
A smooth transition to the Aviator 8
The phrase “Back to the cockpit” heralded the beginning of Georges Kern’s tenure as Breitling CEO in 2017. His goal was to rethink and reinvent Breitling’s first steps in the world of aviation. Breitling was producing cockpit instruments for aircraft as early as the 1930s, long before the first Navitimer with its famous slide rule hit the market in 1952. It was therefore surprising that the new line was called Navitimer (now “8”) and omitted the characteristic slide rule of the model. And the Navitimer 8 was supposed to tell the part of the watch history of Breitling pilots that existed before the Navitimer.
Because of this, the Navitimer 8 features a number of elements from Breitling watches made in the 1930s and 40s, such as a rotating bezel. The limited edition issued in summer 2018, which has since been renamed the Navitimer Aviator 8 B01 Chronograph, was equipped with markings and even numbers in addition to the existing orientation triangle.
Jet black and contrasting colors on the dial and rotating bezel, just like a pilot’s watch should be.
Then came the Curtiss Warhawk, another special edition released about a year after the Navitimer 8 was introduced, and finally the Aviator 8, which now represents Breitling’s early connection to aviation. The change has been made gradually, without causing much fuss. Although it is still possible to find Navitimer 8 models on the Breitling website (and these models may become collectible due to their short lifespan), you can find the unique slide rule models under “Navitimer” and the new watches under “Aviator” 8. ”The Navitimer name on the dial has disappeared.
Our test watch, the Aviator 8 B01 Chronograph Mosquito, came on the market at the end of 2019 and goes “back into the cockpit”, as Georges Kern defined it, and back to the style of cockpit clocks that the Huit Aviation Department used in the 1930s and 40s . This department was founded in Breitling in 1938 (Huit is French for “eight”) and handled aircraft cockpit gauges with a power reserve of 8 days.
A movement at constant rates
While the B01 in-house movement does not offer a power reserve of 8 days, it extends over almost three days (70 hours), which corresponds to the current state of the art. The chronograph movement with column wheel control and vertical clutch was introduced in 2009 on the occasion of the company’s 125th anniversary. Its basic version powers the Mosquito chronograph, but on closer inspection there are some minor differences. For example, the eccentric screw for the fine adjustment is in a different position, and there were some finishing errors on the levers for the stopwatch function, which unfortunately were noticeable through the sapphire case back.
But none of this seems to affect Breitling’s excellent chronometry. The B01 movement runs at very balanced rates in different situations: on the timepiece, on the wrist, or when the chronograph is on. The B01 is very reliable in this regard.
Luminous yellow on the underside of the leather strap underlines the vintage look. The caliber B01 is visible under the sapphire case back.
It’s housed in a 43mm stainless steel case like that of the Navitimer, with now shorter and more curved and polished edges that give the watch a strong and sporty look, especially when viewed from the side. Breitling often made its watches with the same facets in the 1930s to 1960s.
The “Mushroom” chronograph pushers, which, like the fluted crown, are another characteristic of Navitimer, are also historically inspired. The column wheel control gives the pressure points of the chronograph slide solid, but very smooth pressure points. The screw-down crown is difficult to loosen and secure in place, but it is easy to pull out to various operating positions.
A dashing pilot’s watch in diamond black
The grooved, bidirectional rotating bezel rotates smoothly and differs radically from the Navitimer with a smooth, downward sloping top, white indexes and numerals, and a red reference point. The grooved section continues a sharp conical downward slope and, unlike the Navitimer, the raised sections are not exactly parallel to the grooves. The mosquito bezel ring is also coated with ADLC, which gives it a deep, dark black in contrast to the anthracite color of a DLC coating that Breitling has used for many years.
The ADLC coating “Diamondblack” was specially developed for luxury properties. Due to its hardness and resistance to bumps and scratches, as well as its elegant black metallic color, this carbon-based coating is ideal for watches. The gas-based process and the low coating temperatures of less than 200 degrees Celsius are ideal for coating complex shapes and sensitive materials. The 2 to 3 micrometer coating retains the structure of polished or matte surfaces. Diamondblack is hypoallergenic and resistant to acidic and alkaline chemicals and solvents. Due to its good frictional properties, Diamondblack can also be used as a coating for mechanical watch components. It reduces the need for lubrication and extends maintenance times. However, here it is not used in the movement.
Thanks to the generous use of Super-LumiNova, the dial shines brightly at night.
Colorful accents Remember the de Havilland mosquito
The black dial is reminiscent of vintage cockpit instruments and watches. Bold red and orange accents are reminiscent of the insignia and markings on the fuselage of the de Havilland Mosquito, a British multipurpose aircraft from the 1940s that was one of the fastest aircraft in the sky during World War II and was made almost entirely of wood – this was the inspiration for the name “Mosquito” which was used for this Aviator 8 B01 chronograph.
The eye-catching hands, which indicate the main time with their orange frame, dominate the dial. The same color is repeated on the small hand for the stopwatch function and on the tip of the seconds hand of the central stopwatch. While these elements are not luminescent, the primary hands, along with the hour numbers and markers and the 12 small triangles on the minute / second track around the edge of the dial, glow bright green in the dark. In daylight, the white Super-LumiNova forms a strong contrast to the black dial and improves legibility.
The minute track around the edge of the dial is based on the original reference 634, with triangle markings pointing inward every 5 minutes, elongated lines for the minutes and thinner line markings for the fraction of a second. The large Arabic numerals come from Ref. 765 AVI, which has made a name for itself among the aviators and was known as the “copilot”. The three silver subdials and the numbering on the bezel can also be found on these earlier models.
The classic pin buckle matches the design of the watch and matches the bevels of the lugs.
A flight instrument with its own identity
The sturdy dark brown leather strap with a bright yellow underside has a vintage style that fits the character of this watch. Our test watch was equipped with a robust pin buckle whose polished edges match the polished bevels of the case. It’s a well-rounded package – the former Navitimer 8 has found its own identity as the Aviator 8.
Manufacturer: Breitling Chronometrie, Allée du Laser 10, CH-2300 La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
Reference number: AB01194A1B1X1
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph (seconds of the central stopwatch, 30-minute and 12-hour counters), date, bidirectional rotating bezel
Move: Breitling 01, automatic, COSC certified, 28,800 vph, 47 jewels, Nivarox hairspring, Kif shock absorber, fine adjustment of the eccentric screw, 70-hour power reserve, diameter = 30.0 mm, height = 7.20 mm
Case: Stainless steel with ADLC bezel, curved sapphire crystal above the dial with anti-glare coating on both sides, sapphire bottom, water-resistant to 100 meters
Strap and clasp: Brown leather strap in vintage look, pin buckle
Evaluate results (Deviation in seconds per 24 hours, completely wounded / after 24 hours):
On the wrist +2.9
Dial +0.6 / +1.9
Choose +4.8 / +4.9
Crown to +2.1 / -0.5
Crown down +2.1 / +3.9
Crown left +3.3 / +4.3
Biggest deviation 4.2 / 5.4
Average deviation +2.6 / +2.9
Flat positions 290 ° / 270 °
Hanging positions 257 ° / 242 °
Dimensions: Diameter = 42.92 mm, height = 14.17 mm, weight = 114.5 g
Variations: With leather strap with deployment clasp (Ref.AB01194A1B1X2; USD 7,960)
Price: 7,710 USD