Pilot-watch specialist Breitling Replica Chronospace UK has partnered with the non-profit Honor Flight Network, which flies World War II veterans to the memorial dedicated to their service in Washington, DC, to release a limited-edition Breitling watch with proceeds going to the organization. I spoke with Breitling USA president Thierry Prissert at the watch’s post-Veterans’ Day launch event at the brand’s New York City boutique.
According to Prissert, Breitling’s involvement with Honor Flight began when one of the company’s national sales directors saw the documentary film, “Honor Flight: One Last Mission,” at a film festival in Naples. The movie, which depicted the effort by the group’s Wisconsin chapter to send four retired war veterans to the WWII memorial in Washington, brought national attention to the organization and inspired Prissert, a Frenchman, to get involved after seeing it. “We are a European company, and I can relate to what World War II is about,” Prissert said. “I might not be here if it weren’t for the young Americans who died on the beaches of Normandy to save us from tyranny. This was a chance to honor an amazing generation of men and women who are, perhaps, not honored enough. According to the Veterans’ Administration, 650 World War II veterans are dying every day. They are between 92 and 100 years old. So I believe it is time to help. With the historical and aviation connections, I believe it is exactly the type of thing Breitling should be involved with.”
After initially contributing $150,000 to Honor Flight Network, a contribution that enabled nearly 300 veterans from San Diego and Wisconsin to fly to the Washington, DC memorial, Breitling Replica Emergency set out to create a limited-edition watch whose proceeds would support the charity. Prissert says that choosing the Navitimer as the model was an easy decision. “Obviously, we have lots of watches designed for pilots, but the one truly legendary Breitling pilots’ watch is the Navitimer,” he said. “Developed in 1952 and still in the collection, taken by Scott Carpenter into space, it’s one of the stars in our collection.”
The Breitling Navitimer 01 Honor Flight limited edition is distinguished by its blue dial with the Honor Flight logo below 12 o’clock and its engaved caseback, which depicts a “wreath and bracket” from the World War II memorial in Washington, DC, designed by artist Raymond Kasky. The memorial is composed of 56 of these pillars — one representing each of the 50 U.S. states and six U.S. territories that took part in World War II. Appropriately, the watch is also limited to 56 pieces. Each watch’s caseback is engraved with the name of a state or territory, a series number, and the inscription “Honor Flight – One Last Mission.” Each watch is thus a unique piece, in addition to being part of an extremely small production run.
Like other modern Breitling Navitimer 01 watches, this one contains Breitling’s in-house Caliber B01, a mechanical chronograph movement that has also received COSC chronometer certification. It also carries Breitling’s five-year warranty.
One of these new Replica Breitling Montbrillant watches, the one representing Wisconsin, was set aside for auction, raising $13,500 for Honor Flight Network. The rest, which were officially unveiled at Breitling’s New York boutique on November 12, will be available only in Breitling’s United States boutiques — there are four, in New York, Orlando, Miami, and Las Vegas — at a retail price of $9,020. Prissert acknowledged that these rare and distinctively American timpieces could eventually fetch even higher prices on the secondary market.