Breitling released a new Super AVI Chronograph series in tribute to 4 recently. Here is our hands-on comprehensive review of the model inspired by the de Havilland Mosquito, a British twin-engined, shoulder-winged, multirole combat aircraft, introduced during the Second World War.
The new Super AVI Chronograph collection was launched at the Breitling Summit in Dallas on November 18. We covered. Super is Breitling-speak for the large cased models, often measuring as big as 46mm in diameter, as is with this collection. We covered the event in Singapore, at Seletar Airport, and did a short flight wearing the Super AVI Mosquito, while being allowed to perform the take off on a single engined Piper PA-28-181 aircraft. And were so impressed with the rather large watch, that we wanted to do a deep dive to give you this review.
Review: Breitling Super AVI B04 Chronograph GMT 46 Mosquito
The Breitling Super AVI B04 Chronograph GMT 46 Mosquito Ref. YB04451A1B1X1 in Steel, Ceremic Bezel retails at SGD 14,600 inclusive of GST / USD 10,250 before taxes in US.
The inspiration for the collection comes from the early days of Breitling’s history, when in the 1930s, the Huit Aviation department made its name inventing precision cockpit clocks. Two decades later, Breitling introduced the Ref. 765 AVI, a model which was re-recreated in 2020 as the 753 AVI Re-Edition 1953. The 2020 re-edition respected the details of the original, including the case size of 41.5mm. Thenew Super AVi version in this review features an enlarged, 46mm case.
The Super AVI Mosquito honors the legends of the de Havilland Mosquito, an aircraft made of wood. The “Wooden Wonder” caused shockwaves when it outperformed its metal contemporaries to become one of the fastest planes built between 1940 and 1950. Its superior maneuverability allowed it to multitask in roles as far ranging as light bomber, night-fighter, transport and photographic reconnaissance aircraft.
The case, dial and hands
The Super AVI Mosquito is designed as a true pilot’s watch, designed to withstand the rigours of a vintage cockpit. The case is rather large, at 46mm diameter and 15.9mm thick. But interestingly, the watch wears smaller than the case dimensions, as the lugs curve into the wrist. Georges Kern once told us that all Breitlings made under his leadership will be wearable on his small wrist. And indeed this Super AVI will not buck that trend.
The case is in steel, with a bi-directional ceramic bezel, marked with the Arabic hour markers engraved and infilled in white, with an inverted red triangle serving as 12. The bezel features rather large corrugated knurled edges, allowing a good grip, even with thick gloved fingers, and also gives some character to the watch. The case shape is a rather standard round with sloped lugs. The case is finished in a high polish in on the dial side facings, and a brushed finish on the case sides. This juxtaposition of dual finishing gives the watch a bit more depth, though as large as it is, it does not more dimensionality to exert its authority. The bezel overhangs the case sides slightly, and this facilitates an easier grip to manipulate. The huge crown, designed to facilitate use with gloved hand, and pump pushers complete the look. We think these features, together with the rugged knurling gives the Super AVI Mosquito a strong character, and enhances the overall look and stature of the watch as a no-nonsense, tool watch.
The dial is highly legible. Huge Arabic numerals with thick lume are used as hour markers sit immediately within the lume marked minute track. This black main dial is black is within a circular white periphery on the outermost edge of the dial, and marked for the 24 hour timezone – arabic for odd hours, and bars for even. This is indicated by a red-tipped GMT hand. The red accents on the tips of the GMT hand is repeated on the hour and minute sword hands, as well as the chronograph seconds hand. This theme is carried on the 30 minute totalizers at 3 o’clock, and used to mark the 5/10/15/20/25 minutes, playing out the image of a propeller on the sub-dial. The three sub-dials in white with a concentric circle texture, and this contrasts very well with the jet black rest of the dial.
One nit to pick is the GMT hand and chronograph central seconds hand is very similar in shape, only a difference in scale allows differentiation. Both are also red tipped with a lume infilled arrow head end, so we imagine that there may be occasions where confusion may arise. Otherwise, there is little to complain about the dial. Large, bold, clear.
The chronograph functions work well, with good even pressure for each of the start/stop/reset activations, as expected from a well designed column wheel activated chronograph. Activation jump is minimal as well, again as expected from a vertical clutch arrangement used in the B04 powering the watch.
The movement – Breitling B04
The engine of the Super AVI is the COSC-certified Breitling Manufacture Caliber B04 movement, which provides approximately 70-hours of power reserve. This movement is in-house to Breitling, and is a development over its B01 with the addition of a GMT hand. The movement features a column wheel with vertical clutch, and is automatic winding.
On the sapphire glass on the rear of the watch, an engraving of the de Havilland motif in black is shown as a tribute to the aircraft. The case is water resistant to 100m.
Movement finishing is de rigeur for a tool watch. All mechanical and technical operational requirements are met, and finishing is done to a high workmanlike manner. However, the watch will not meet haute horlogerie cosmetic finishing standards, nor does it pretend to be. Neither in its intended application as a pilot’s tool watch, nor in its pricing ambitions. We think the finishing is par for the course at this pricing level, and highly adequate for proper function and good timekeeping. And no doubt that it will perform reliably and accurately for years.
The competitive landscape
The competitive landscape for a flight designed chronograph with GMT is surprisingly thin. Flight chronographs are pretty common, but coupled with a GMT, which we thought would be a good pilot’s tool, is not so. Rolex’s flight tools are their GMT Master series, which do not have a chronograph, and even if we consider their Daytona which is a chronograph, is not equipped with a GMT.
IWC Pilot Chronograph Top Gun is perhaps the first that come to mind in the competitive landscape. Not only were the watches made their name with Georges Kern as IWC’s CEO then, and perhaps may share similar inspiration, but the inspiration is from quite similar, though not the same source. While the latest IWC series like the recent Blue Angels (SGD 16,900 in a stunning blue ceramic case, 44.5mm in diameter) is dedicated to modern US Navy fighter squadrons, the Breitling decided to dig into their rich history and pay tribute the WW2 machines.
Breguet Type Type XXI 3815 (SGD 21,400 in Ti) is one possible comparative model. Designed as military flight chronographs, but the Type XXI, nor its brethren the Type XX and XXII do not feature a GMT hand. However, all the Breguet chronographs are flyback, a feature which airmen tell us, is a useful one to have during flight.
Overall, the Super AVI collection is an excellent extension to what Georges Kern has been doing to the Breitling lineup. All strong, bold statement pieces. Nicely designed, beautiful to look at. Functional, and well engineered and finished. And at the typical excellent pricing that Breitling is known for. This Super AVI series is one for the collectors who enjoy a re-imagination of the grand old days of aviation and of Breitling’s involvement in those golden times. For the history buffs who insist on an accurate replica of the original AVI have the Re-Edition to consider. For the rest, the Super AVI is a good option.
As mentioned, the 46mm case diameter watch wears small. As can be seen above, works well on our Chief Editor’s average sized male wrist which measures just a tad below 18 cm or 7 inches in circumference. We think the aesthetics are brilliant, with good contrast for high legibility. And a recommendation for those seeking an aviator’s styled watch which is highly functional in flight as well as a regular tool watch to wear on a daily basis.
The watch was photographed in the Breitling Boutique in Ion Orchard. Fujifilm GFX 50S II with Hasselblad HC 4/120 Macro and HC 2.8/80 +H26 Extension Tube. Profoto strobes.
Apologies that we did not do a lume shot, which in hindsight would be a nice image, but we shot this and the other Super AVI watches in the Breitling boutique in Ion Orchard, and did not have the luxury of time and darkening the space for such a shot.