Breitling’s collection of Avenger timepieces has always been a strong family member even alongside the publicly perceived flagship models within the long standing catalogue constituents that are the Navitimers and Chronomats. In fact, the Super Avenger was once the best selling Breitling in the UK. All this whilst being one of the most demanding collection of timepieces to wear, given its size and heft. This potential concern for comfort was eased somewhat when the Avenger II GMT was announced early 2014.
This new addition to the well admired anthology of The Super Avenger, Avenger, Avenger Chrono and Avenger Seawolf maintains the very same aesthetic that made Avenger lineage so popular but with a new sense of elegance. To put this into perspective the diameters/thicknesses of the above watches are 48mm/18.6mm, 45mm/17.4mm , 45.4mm/18mm and 45mm/18.5mm , respectively. The Avenger GMT II measures 43mm/12.2mm. This may not sound like a significant revolution but it allows the watch to be worn with a combination of durable heft and everyday comfort that is hard to achieve given the inherent weight of high density 316L stainless steel and sapphire glass.
So, why does the nomenclature incorporate the acronym GMT? GMT stands for Greenwich Mean Time. GMT was internationally adopted in 1884 (ironically the same year Leon Breitling started his watch company). It was, effectively, a reference time for the entire globe. Greenwich in London was the reference point and all other time zones were calculated from this well known position. GMT was, historically, a pilot’s complication before the advent of the computerised mega-displays of post WWII cockpits. With GMT (now UTC: Universal Time Co-ordinated) being the accepted global time for all airports, stations and bases a pilot needed to be able to quickly refer to his watch to decipher his home timezone (take off), destination timezone (landing) and GMT. Instead of being made redundant by the upgraded technology enabling easier flight the GMT function has now come into its own for anyone who regularly travels or needs to know 2nd timezones through work (conference calls) and pleasure (what time does the game kick off in Brazil?). There is a wealth of information on the history and significance of GMT to be found on the world wide web which I would recommend investigating.
Specification and Details:
A true luxury timepiece is defined by its ability to tell the time, plus any additional complications, accurately and reliably. It is as simple as that. So how does a brand set itself apart? The answer is in the details. This doesn’t necessarily characterise the aesthetics but it should allow it to be distinguished and recognised. This has long been one of the strengths of Breitling’s Avenger family: instant identification The Avenger II GMT incorporates these features and adds to them. A strong aesthetic, water resistance, legibility and functionality.
Here are the specifications of the Avenger II GMT:
The displays include the time, date, second time zone from GMT hand and third time zone by utilising the incrementally bi-directional bezel.
It is water resistance to 300m WR, which is more than enough for anyone and allows the case to be hermetically sealed. This protects the Calibre 32 movement which has a 42 hour power reserve, 21 jewels, a running cadence of 28800 vibrations per hour and is Chronometer rated (meaning that it has been tested by a third party to achieve the ultimate in accuracy for a mechanical movement of this size).
The impressive water resistance is made possible by the screw down crown, with double gaskets and the screw down caseback. The crown is knurled to allow easy winding and setting of the time, date and GMT. The crown is protected by subtly chamfered guards which are incorporated into the case.
As mentioned before, the diameter is 43mm and it has a very wearable thickness of 12.2mm. The weight (head only) is 93 grams. Compare this to the 159.2grams of its much heavier but also much more water resistant sibling the Avenger Seawolf. This makes the watch a class leader in comfort. In fact, given that the watch is so strong and dependable under any conditions it is remarkable that you do not know you are wearing it. This removes the often disparaging comments of similar watches about wrist fatigue, whereby the watch becomes uncomfortable, bordering on annoying, after extended wear.
Options for conceiving your very own Avenger II GMT include black, blue or cream dials with the choice of batons or numerals. To attach the watch to yourself you have range of straps that include Leather, Diver Pro III rubber, Ocean Racer Rubber or a Professional III bracelet in surgical grade 316L steel, to match the case.
The above is impressive in it’s self but here are the design elements that personify the Avenger II GMT and allow it to rank amongst the most desirable GMT timepieces available.
The bezel is the component that really sets this watch apart for me. The use of one singular piece of LASER engraved steel gives the whole watch a unity and harmony missing in similar watches that utilise a printed aluminium bezel. The resulting aesthetics and interaction are distinctly opulent. The bezel has a solid feel as each timezone hour is incrementally adjusted. The raised quarter markers for the 6, 12, 18 and luminous dot at 24 are wonderfully bevelled giving a strong visual that is reminiscent of a stadium stanchion, with the time being played out within its confines. The sunburst satin finish also exudes adroit design to reflect the high end nature of this timepiece and is the ideal contrast to the polished case.
The slightness of the seconds hand also alludes to this elegance as the wearer is often only immediately aware of three hands circumnavigating the dial, which we are all used to. Once again the GMT complication only becomes truly apparent when you go looking for it.
Many GMT watches on the market are seemingly overwhelmed by a proliferation of hands and numbers. They could never aspire to being thought of as stylish. This is another reason why I like the Avenger II GMT.
The slim GMT hand is subtle and yet highly legible through the anodised red coating. This results in a very practical secondary complication not becoming overbearing.
I really like the unique tramline hour markers. Usually the luminescent material is fully confined within a circular or rectangular applied marker. Breitling have been clever in that the shorter sides are open-ended. This allows for more luminescent material to be applied without cluttering the dial with oversized markers.
And, speaking of luminescence, the current and GMT times will remain legible long after lights out.
I love this watch. It offers all the constructional and design quality plus the given dependability of the rest of the highly regarded Avenger range without the given heft of a chronograph timepiece.
My personal favourite is the black dial version on the flawlessly polished Professional III bracelet. The subtle flashes of red on the seconds hand tip and the “Automatic” script work well with the monochromatic dial.
The blue dial offers a more contemporary sports styling whilst the cream dial offers a historical, almost nostalgic, option.
Please follow the official Breitling link below to view all options:
There’s a section in a well known Supermarket chain in the UK that my wife and I frequent entitled “Taste the Difference”. This is where you immediately go if you are bothered about food and drink as a luxury and are prepared to pay for it. If you aren’t bothered and you simply want sustenance then you walk straight by. Simple. If you are at all bothered about luxury timepieces and are prepared to pay for them then you walk straight to the Breitling counter at your local Authorised Dealers. You can, quite simply, see and feel the difference. I hate to keep repeating the phrase but it is all about luxury. That added value within an everyday item that propels it from “need to have” to “want to have”.
The Avenger II GMT is a definite case in point: At first glance this is a generic steel watch that simply tells the time. You need to spend time (ironically) with this superbly elegant and yet sporty timepiece to really appreciate the minutiae of the myriad of clever, subtle and well thought out details and design elements. Examples include the LASER engraved bezel and anodised red (and yet discrete) GMT hand. These two elements add two extra timezones to this watch and yet they do not detract from the classical simple aesthetic. The entire watch has been finished with a care and dedication that reflects a brand that is aware of what is required to be in the over-subscribed world of the high-end sports watch. This fit and finish and use of the high grade materials instantly instils a feeling of reliability and trust.
The Avenger family of watches has always been utilitarian. The case materials have only ever been steel or Blacksteel (DLC). The Avenger II GMT fits in perfectly, and yet it adds an element of elegance not evident previously.
They say, whoever “they” are, that “Time is a Luxury”. The Avenger II GMT reappraises this statement in that it is a true luxury item that conveys the time. Well, times actually. Three of them at the same time should the owner choose.
I have no real criticism of the Avenger II GMT. I would have preferred the watch to have the jumping hour function, whereby the hour hand is adjusted instead of the GMT hand when you need to adjust to a second time zone. Although I understand the historical significance, I think the fake patina of the lume material that is coupled with the Cream dial is a bit irrelevant for a watch design that is so otherwise contemporary. As a well informed reviewer and life-long watch geek I believe it is my god-given rite to expose negative aspects of the timepieces I am given to critique. So I applaud Breitling in making me seem petty minded with my lame attempt at criticism above.
In summary, The Avenger GMT II offers everything from a watch of this type that allows it to become a lifetime companion through classically elegant design, ultimate wearablity and comfort, reliability and user friendly functionality.
A high-end timepiece needs to offer so much more than time telling. It needs to evoke emotions in the wearer and it needs to do this reliably and accurately. No matter what the conditions. So wherever your travels, or your current dreams of future travels, take you, be it hot, cold, wet, dusty, etc, Breitling’s Avenger II GMT will be able to let you know, with precision, your local timezone, your home timezone , the time of your cross continental conference call, your kid’s bed times, the opening times of the world’s stock exchanges, the kick off/face off of the current World sports tournament or just plain old GMT.
All words and images by Richard Atkins of Andrew Michaels Jewellers. This article may not copied be in part or in whole without the permission of the author.