Breitling Avenger Blackbird: A Modern Take on the Iconic 1995 Blackbird
Over the years, Breitling has released a sizeable catalogue of watches, many of which revolve around utility and aviation. One of Breitling’s most iconic watches is the Breitling Avenger Blackbird, which was first introduced as the Breitling Chronomat Blackbird in 1995. The name “Blackbird” was selected as a homage to the Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird”, which, even today, continues to hold the lofty title of “fastest jet plane in the world”. With such grandiose inspiration, Breitling made sure to create a watch that invokes the speedy precision and understated stealthiness of the fastest jet plane in the world.
Historically, Breitling has been popular for its chronograph timepieces that are highly regarded by pilots and other navigators alike. From the Chronomat to the Professional collection, Breitling has established robust functions for watches that provide great utility in any situation. Originally from the Chronomat collection, the 1995 Blackbird watch soared through the skies, fulfilling its intended purpose as a precise and functional chronograph. Several newer Blackbird models were released throughout the years, and this eventually led to the Blackbird’s transfer to the Avenger collection. The original Chronomat Blackbird brandishes a polished stainless steel look to stay consistent with the Chronomat collection’s established design. Following the shift into the Avenger collection, the reimagined Breitling Avenger Blackbird took on a new look. The Avenger Blackbird Ref. V17311AT/BD74, for instance, brandishes a stealthy DLC-coated titanium case while completely removing the chronograph dials that the original Chronomat Blackbird had. With the Avenger Blackbird, the Swiss watchmaker did a major rework of the original Blackbird watch. The modern Avenger Blackbird no longer has the same features and specifications as the original Blackbird watch, even though it maintains a similar, stealthy, and understated style.
With that in mind, is the Breitling Avenger Blackbird a good replacement for the Chronomat Blackbird? Stick around as we take a look at just what makes the Avenger Blackbird a worthy descendant of the iconic Blackbird aviation watch.
You can tell at a glance that the new Avenger Blackbird Ref. V17311AT/BD74 is a very stylish watch, much like its predecessor. It lacks a few features that can be found in the Chronomat Blackbird, but the Breitling Avenger Blackbird does a good job of creating its own identity while also staying true to the Blackbird design. Rather than just staying in the shadow of the original Blackbird, this Breitling Avenger Blackbird pays greater tribute to the jet plane with the same name. That said, with its simple and minimalistic design, the Breitling Avenger Blackbird is versatile and can double as both an aviation watch as well as a casual everyday timepiece. The chronograph feature of the Blackbird may have been scrapped, but the minimalistic dial further emphasises the stealthy visage of the Blackbird.
One thing that has left people feeling divided about the Breitling Avenger Blackbird is that it does not have the look of a traditional aviation watch, which can be quite confusing at first. The design scheme leans more towards a sports watch rather than its intended use as an aviation watch. Along with its relatively costlier price range, this has left some people sceptical about considering the Breitling Avenger Blackbird when looking for an aviation watch.
Setting the price aside, the Breitling Avenger Blackbird is considered a very high-performance watch. Packed with all the necessary features of an aviation watch, the Avenger Blackbird is an extremely durable timepiece that is tried and tested by watch enthusiasts and pilots. The DLC-coated titanium case plays a major role in keeping the watch intact, giving it the sturdiness reminiscent of an aircraft—much like the jet plane that inspired the Blackbird timepiece. It is an impressive timekeeper that retains the classiness of the original Chronomat Blackbird while also keeping up with the times by incorporating newer innovations and more modern designs. The price may prove to be a hurdle for some, but we think that the robust features of the Breitling Avenger Blackbird more than justifies its cost.
Keeping in mind Breitling’s rich heritage, the Breitling Avenger Blackbird impressively creates an identity of its own without adding any confusing functions or overly sophisticated bells and whistles. Younger generations are sure to be drawn in by the modern design of the Blackbird along with its simple, easy-to-use profile. That being said, watch connoisseurs who prefer more lavish designs and fans of the original Chronomat Blackbird may be put off by the Avenger Blackbird’s minimalistic style. This is reasonable since the original Chronomat version had a more refined, vintage design that followed the trends of the past.
Let’s have a closer look at the specifications of the Avenger Blackbird to see just how it forges its own identity distinct from that of the original Chronomat Blackbird.
Case, Crown, and Case Back
The Avenger Blackbird comes in two available sizes: 44mm and 48mm DLC-coated titanium case. As mentioned before, this titanium case deviates from the classic stainless steel case that was widely popular back in the day. Since the Avenger Blackbird is a homage to the “Blackbird” aircraft, the choice of a black-tinted case places the watch closer to its reference material. This is why Breitling chose to use the black DLC-coating, which also provides the case with additional protection from scratches. This watch is on the slimmer side weighing in with a thinness of 14.1mm. The petite stature of the Breitling Avenger Blackbird makes this a rather light, easy-to-carry watch despite the large 44mm case. Titanium is also known to be a light material that adds more comfort when worn, which adds to the Avenger Blackbird’s lightweight profile. This watch has a unidirectional pebbled bezel that is easy to rotate even if your hands are slippery or wet. That is because of the Rider tabs spaced out around the bezel that act as grips for seamless rotation.
Moving on to the crown, the Breitling Avenger Blackbird is equipped with a secure screwed-down crown. Aside from keeping moisture out of the watch, this crown uses an unusual design that deviates from the usual grooved crown. The crown of the Avenger Blackbird possesses a waffle-like design, which is both easy to grip and really distinguishes this timepiece from its diver watch peers. Along with the calibre movement, the crown provides wearers with a seamless way to ensure accurate synchronisation of the watch’s time. Everything on the watch stops when the crown is pulled—even the seconds hand stops so wearers can very precisely adjust the time.
The caseback of the Avenger Blackbird is also screwed in for a more secure fit to better protect the inner mechanisms of the watch. With this feature, the Breitling Avenger Blackbird has a water resistance of 200 metres. The Avenger Blackbird may be an aviation watch at its core but with its substantial water-resistance capability, it can also be used for water sports or recreational diving. The adaptability of the watch makes it one of the best aviation watches on the market today.
As for the dial of the Breitling Avenger Blackbird, simplicity is its strongest suit. By emphasising legibility without compromising the effortlessly cool design, the Avenger Blackbird creates a dial perfectly suited for an aviation watch. The black dial consists of light-orange hours, minutes, and seconds hands and applied indices that add a tasteful splash of colour to the otherwise all-black watch. The hands set and indices are all coated with SuperLuminova for greater visibility in the dark. The date aperture is found at the 3 o’clock position, lined with a clean red border. On the outer rim of the dial, minute markers are painted on to ensure accurate time reading and adjustments.
The Breitling Avenger Blackbird watch has a very consistent design. The minimalistic black dial maintains the stealthy profile of the watch, all the while providing a very balanced style. The simple dial design may not be for those who prefer more luxurious timepieces, but the Avenger Blackbird manages to pull off a stylish exterior that can be popular with watch enthusiasts both young and old.
The Avenger Blackbird is an automatic watch that is equipped with a precision-based calibre movement, the Breitling 17 calibre. This movement is based on the ETA 2824-2 calibre, which is one of the most common and reliable movements found on the luxury watch market. With the self-winding capability of the Breitling 17 calibre, this watch can go at least 38 hours without the need for winding. The 28,800 VpH frequency of the movement also makes for consistent and accurate timekeeping. Speaking of consistency, the Breitling 17 makes use of 25 jewels that keep the movement running and minimise any problems like friction, wear and tear, or dislodged mechanisms. This calibre movement is commonly used for aviation watches, which makes it an appropriate choice for the Breitling Avenger Blackbird.
All that said and done, it is true that the Avenger Blackbird has a fairly expensive price tag. Given that it is made with expert Breitling craftsmanship as well as the fact that it is a direct descendant of an iconic Breitling watch, the Avenger Blackbird does not come cheap. The Avenger Blackbird is also an aviation watch, and both dive watches and aviation watches are known for their more extravagant standing in the watch market. The current retail price of this timekeeper starts at $5,105 USD. If that is out of your budget range, you can always try the secondhand market. Prices may differ depending on the seller or the condition of the watch. That said, the Avenger Blackbird still falls on the pricier side of the spectrum, regardless of whether it is used or not. It may be an expensive watch, but this watch’s quality and robust features certainly justify its price.
Reasons to Buy a Breitling Avenger Blackbird Watch
Pricing aside, there are several reasons why the Breitling Avenger Blackbird watch makes for a great choice. Versatile watches that are suited for a variety of situations are very popular amongst the younger generations. The Chronomat Blackbird is undoubtedly a classy watch whose design was well-received even by today’s standards. However, newer watch enthusiasts might prefer a more balanced and flexible style that can match a diverse range of outfits. This is where the new Breitling Avenger Blackbird comes in. With its simple yet efficient dial, timekeeping is as easy as it can be. As far as aviation watches can go, the Avenger Blackbird takes the cake for being one of the most comfortable watches in the market. This is primarily because of its lightweight profile as well as its smooth black polyamide fabric strap with rubber inlay at the bottom. The durability of this watch is also one of its biggest selling points. The case has 300m water resistance, is extremely impressive for an aviation watch, and is anti-magnetic and shock-resistant to boot.
Furthermore, the Breitling 17 automatic calibre movement used in the Avenger Blackbird has the perfect blend of accuracy and functionality. This calibre movement is COSC certified, which says a lot about its reliability. The price range of the Breitling Avenger Blackbird may be on the higher end, but it’s definitely a watch worth adding to your collection.
All in all, the Breitling Avenger Blackbird is a great successor to the iconic Chronomat Blackbird. While the design differs quite widely from the original Chronomat, but the context and inspiration for the two Blackbird models are the same. The Avenger collection fully embodies Breitling’s ideals in creating durable, robust, and accurate timekeepers that are suitable for any situation. The simple and understated design of the cool Avenger Blackbird is a testament to Breitling’s passion for aviation in general. It is a solid aviation watch that can also be used for many activities and occasions outside of aviation. If you are looking for a sporty aviation watch that champions minimalism and durability, the Avenger Blackbird is just the watch for you.
All photos are from The Watch Company unless stated otherwise.
Featured image courtesy of Breitling.