The Breitling DC-3 World Tour — which began this past March in Switzerland — touched down in New York City this week, bringing with it the storied 77-year-old plane’s precious cargo: a 500-piece limited edition of the brand’s iconic Navitimer watch that will be available for sale at the conclusion of the historic, globe-spanning journey.
The DC-3 HB-IRJ that now flies under Breitling colors was delivered to its original owner on March 12, 1940, and was used for various civilian and military purposes for various owners throughout the following decades. Breitling acquired the plane in November 2008, entirely restoring, repainting, and adapting it to European air travel standards and branding it with a vintage Breitling logo. The renamed Breitling DC-3 has since participated in air shows and other events worldwide, and in 2017, embarked on its most ambitious flight to date — a grand world tour in stages, taking off from Geneva in March, crossing the Balkans, through the Middle East and Southeast Asia, across the Pacific, through the U.S. and Canada, and finally back to Switzerland in September. When it touches down, the Breitling DC-3 will become the oldest plane to make such a world tour, and the specially created watches that it carries on board will become officially available to the public.
The Breitling Navitimer Breitling DC-3 Limited Edition carries on the tradition of the original Navitimer, introduced in 1952 and regarded as one of the quintessential timepieces for aviators. The watch’s 46-mm stainless steel case features the circular slide rule bezel, used in making calculations for airborne navigation, which has long been the defining characteristic of Navitimer watches. Powering the watch is Breitling’s in-house Caliber 01, which includes an integrated chronograph function and a 70-hour power reserve and which has been officially certified as a chronometer by the Swiss testing agency COSC. The dial’s tricompax design includes subdials at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock — for chronograph minutes, chronograph hours, and running seconds, respectively — along with a date window at the 4:30 position. Marking this watch as a special edition is the solid steel caseback engraved with the Breitling DC-3 World Tour (below); as an added enticement, each of the 500 watches (which Breitling says can be pre-ordered now) will be delivered with a certificate signed by the flight’s captain.