With its new Navitimer Super Constellation (ref. A23322U7/BB20), which is limited to only 1049 pieces, Breitling supports a local nonprofit foundation that keeps flight-worthy the legendary N73544 Lockheed C-121C Super Constellation airplane. The aircraft is based in Basel, Switzerland and flies with the famous “B” on its signature tripletail.
Known for its continuous troubles with its four 18-cylinder radial Wright R-3350 engines (a number of planes and human lives were lost due to engine failures,) the plane earned the title of the “World’s Finest Trimotor.”
Nevertheless, its military-issue version C-69 was one of the best transport planes of World War II and the C-121 itself was one of the fastest passenger planes that were used on transatlantic flights in the first post-war decade.
The C-121C in question was first operated by the US Air Force, then transferred to the Smithsonian Institute, then restored to flying condition by the California-based Constellation Historical Society (CHS.)
The plane was sold to the Swiss-based Super Constellation Flyers Association (SCFA) in December 2003 and came to Switzerland a year later.
As you may have already guessed, the 1,000,000 USD project was sponsored by Breitling, which is known for its love for every piece of metal that can fly on its own.
Being almost 60 years old, the plane again needs restoration and Breitling intends to support the good cause with this new Navitimer Super Constellation.
Like it was the case with the recently released Oris Swiss Hunter Team PS (Patrouille-Suisse) Edition that supported yet another historic piece of flying rust, Breitling will donate a fixed sum of money from each piece that it will be able to sell.
Like the recently presented Chronospace Chronograph, the Super Constellation is powered by the same Caliber 23 self-winding movement.
Being a version of the well-known ETA Valjoux 7753 ebauche, the movement justifies the huge price difference with better parts, even higher build quality and an official numbered chronometer certificate of Controle Officiel Suisse des Chronometres (COSC,) a Swiss-based institution that tests movements for compliance with the strict demands of the ISO 3159 standard.
It may also be worth mentioning that about a million, or only one of every thirty watches produced each year by Swiss-based brands is being submitted for testing. The lion’s share of the pie, of course, belongs to Rolex, which is followed by Omega and Breitling.
While the first pair of brands submit for testing a large share, but not all, of their mechanisms, Breitling claims that each and every movement bearing their logo is an officially certified chronometer. That does say something, right?
Visually, it is just your usual Navitimer, but with a new, more appealing to your humble narrator color scheme.
As you can see, the usual black dial comes decorated with white sub-dials of the chronograph (at 3 and 6 o’clock) and the small seconds hand (at 9 o’clock.)
As you may have noted, the numerals on the chronograph totalizers, on the subsidiary seconds sub-dial and on the calendar wheel are printed in blue. This is, of course, a nod to the white-and-blue color scheme of the Breitling-sponsored N73544 Connie.
The yellow-and-red “SUPER CONSTELLATION” lettering at 12 o’clock with a blue line right under it also copies that painted on the plane’s fuselage.
Well, it is too bad that the watch was not issued with their new manufacture-made Caliber B-01 automatic movement. Although that would make it pricier, it would also increase its collector’s value.
Still, if you are in love with aviation and can afford the timekeeper, you may consider ordering one. It is a good gadget, though.
Breitling Navitimer Super Constellation Limited Edition (ref. A23322U7/BB20) specification
Price: $6500 (MSRP)
Movement: Automatic, Caliber 23 (based on ETA Valjoux 7753,) COSC-certified chronometer, 28,800 vph, 25 jewels, Swiss Made
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, chronograph
Power reserve: 46 hours
Case: Stainless steel
Size: 42.00 mm
Dial: Black, with white sub-dials
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Black leather strap with contrast white stitching
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective
Back: Solid, engraved