As part of their just-announced partnership with Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, Breitling has unveiled the Aviator 8 Etihad Limited Edition in black steel. This is a limited edition of 500 pieces and features Arabic numerals on the dial, as is the norm with most Middle East editions. 

The limited edition is based on the Navitimer 8 Automatic Day & Date model that sits in the Breitling catalogue. The Navitimer 8 collection honours Willy Breitling and his Huit Aviation Department. Willy Breitling famously established the Huit Aviation Department in 1938. The Department’s name (Huit is French for eight) was chosen to recall the eight days of power reserve offered by onboard clocks and other dashboard instruments. It was this team that developed the brand’s chronograph wristwatches that were used in the aviation sector.

The Navitimer 8 Automatic Day & Date with Aviator 8 Etihad edition

The Etihad limited edition has a 41 mm black DLC-coated stainless steel case fitted with a solid screwed caseback and a case profile that is 11.19 mm thick. It uses a bi-directional rotating bezel with a small red pointer to indicate the 12 o’ clock position.

Under a double anti-reflective sapphire glass sits the inky black dial. The day of the week is displayed (in Arabic script) at 12 o’ clock and the date is displayed at the 6 o’ clock position. Arabic numerals in striking gold color match the gold plated hands that indicate time.

The day and date and time indications are all in Arabic

The watch is powered by Breitling Caliber 45, a self-winding movement based on the ETA 2834-2. This movement has in the past been used in Breitling models like the Transocean Day & Date. The watch has a power reserve of 38 hours and is a COSC-certified chronometer.  

The model will be exclusively available in Breitling points across Abu Dhabi in early 2020 before being released in the wider market and across the globe. It is priced at AED19,000.

Breitling has quite the history with aviator’s watches. The Navitimer was first released in 1952 but in 1959, the Swiss brand released the Ref. 806 Navitimer, a chronograph model with a rotating slide-rule bezel, which enabled pilots make vital flight calculations from their wrist. The watch’s distinct looks – the beaded bezel, tone on tone subdials on a black dial – were quite different from the chronographs of the era and the Navitimer models that had come before it.

Such was its popularity that when these models were sold in the US, they carried the logo of the AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) on the dial. Needless to say, this model was popular with AOPA members and would go on to become a really collectible in the years to come. Earlier this year, Breitling launched a re-issue of this historic model.