AOPA Pilot Magazine - February 2021 - 102

DETAILS

$255,000
Cost of one of only 50
diamond-studded, limitededition Breitling Bentley
Flying B watches ever made.

News & Notes
MEMBERSHIP

Historic partnership

Breitling is synonymous with aviation
B Y J U L I E S U M M E R S WA L K E R

EMAIL julie.walker@aopa.org

102 | AOPA PILOT February 2021

AVIATION PIONEERS SQUAD
In 2020, Breitling introduced its Aviation Pioneers
Squad. It is made up of three individuals who represent different aviation disciplines but who all define
a new age of adventure in the air: Scott Kelly spent
a year of his life looking down at the Earth from the
International Space Station (ISS); Commandant Rocío
González Torres has logged more than 1,000 hours of
flight time in a fighter jet and is a role model for girls
and young women determined to conquer the skies;
and Luke Bannister excels in a new aviation discipline-
he won his first World Drone Championship at the age
of 15 and has been on a winning course ever since.
" No watch brand in the world has a more impressive
and enduring link to aviation than Breitling. All three of
the members of the Breitling Aviation Pioneers Squad
define an incredible new age of adventure in the air, "
says Breitling CEO Georges Kern. " Breitling celebrates
the collective spirit of those united in pursuit of their
mission. Fueled by camaraderie and driven by purpose,
we accomplish more together than we could alone. The
Aviation Pioneers Squad launches the new Breitling
Avenger collection, which reinforces the unparalleled
pioneering status that Breitling has as the world's leading maker of aviation-related and pilot's watches. "
breitling.com

The first Breitling
Navitimer

COURTESY BREITLING

IT WAS 1884 AND INNOVATION WAS A WORLDWIDE phenomenon.
Everyone, it seemed, was creating and inventing products that would
change the world. Industry, science, and sport were all progressing at a
furious pace. Observing this, Swiss watchmaker Leon Breitling became
obsessed with aviation. He watched as the Wright brothers took to the
skies and he knew the world would need more precise and accurate
timing methods.
During World War I, Breitling introduced a piece of technology to
pilots; they needed an easy-to-use timer that freed their hands for takeoff. Pocket watches were in vogue at the time, but their fobs and chains
were cumbersome for the chaos of the cockpit. Breitling's innovative
solution: the world's first wrist-worn chronograph with a push piece
separate to the crown.
Willy Breitling took the helm of the brand his grandfather had founded
and established the Huit Aviation Department in 1938. Fully aware of the
strict requirements for military and civil aviation, its name-the French
word for " eight " -reflected the eight-day power reserve offered by many
dashboard clocks and other chronometric instruments, including the wrist
chronographs Breitling was developing for aviators. In addition to power
reserves and readability, these onboard chronographs were distinguished
by their lightweight cases. The Huit products attracted the attention of military aviators and, as World War II loomed, the Huit Aviation Department
received an order for chronographs from the Royal Air Force.
As Europe was plunged into darkness, the Nazis surrounded
Switzerland and blocked the exportation of products, especially items
that could be used in the war effort. This included Breitling timepieces.
Willy Breitling and a group of friends drove to a field near the Breitling
plant and set up a makeshift runway using their car headlights. The airplanes were loaded with the timepieces and took off-all without the
knowledge of Nazi intelligence. To provide himself with an alibi during
these midnight raids, Willy would go home via a local bar and make himself conspicuous. This occasionally put him in the drunk tank, but the
watches and cockpit devices ended up in Allied hands.
Because of its founders' passion for aviation, Breitling has been a longstanding contributor to the flying world. From its reliable and precise watch
designs, its evolution from watch fobs to wrist-worn, and its love of the
excitement of aviation in its sponsorship of exciting world events such as
its French jet team performances, the Breitling Orbiter (the first balloon
to circumnavigate the globe), sending a Breitling watch into space with
Scott Carpenter in 1962, and more, Breitling has long celebrated aviation.
Breitling is now a premier partner with AOPA. The AOPA-Breitling
partnership spans more than 65 years, since 1954 when AOPA selected the
Breitling Navitimer as the official watch of AOPA.
This article includes excerpts from the Breitling historic collection.


http://www.breitling.com

AOPA Pilot Magazine - February 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AOPA Pilot Magazine - February 2021

Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - February 2021 - Intro
AOPA Pilot Magazine - February 2021 - Cover1
AOPA Pilot Magazine - February 2021 - Cover2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - February 2021 - Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - February 2021 - 2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - February 2021 - 3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - February 2021 - 4
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - February 2021 - Cover3
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