As the Royal family assembled on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to watch the historic 100-plane flypast over London, members of the watch press were invited by Breitling – along with a number of special guests – to watch the RAF centenary celebrations from a slightly more discreet vantage point.
On the delightful roof terrace of Ham Yard Hotel in Soho, guests including 96-year-old Battle of Britain veteran Allan Scott were treated to a series of short films directed by the Breitling ambassador, male model and all-round good bloke David Gandy. The always beautifully turned-out Gandy introduced the films, which pay tribute to the immense contribution made by the world’s oldest independent air force.
Other guests included Red Arrows team members Douglas Smith and Adam Collins, who were on hand to prepare the uninitiated for the sight of the splendid aircraft flying low over the centre of London. Among the planes on show were of course the ever-thrilling Red Arrows – complete with signature coloured smoke trails – and planes spanning the RAF’s history, from Spitfires and Lancaster bombers, via Chinook and Puma helicopters, through to modern F-35 fighter jets.
Breitling’s relationship with the RAF goes right back to the very early days. In the 1930s, the company began making on-board chronographs for aircraft. One of the main customers was the RAF, which put the chronographs in many of the bombers that went on to play such a crucial role in securing Allied victory in the Second World War.
This was the beginning of an ongoing relationship, and the following decades saw Breitling secure its position as a favoured supplier to the RAF and to pilots worldwide, with watches such as the Navitimer, launched in 1952, then the Chronomat in the 1980s, through to the Emergency, with its personal locator beacon, launched in 1995.
It was therefore fitting when Breitling was announced as the official partner to the RAF100 which has seen a range of events, charity initiatives and new licensed products across the centenary year.
Breitling has launched a limited edition of four watches and is donating a proportion of the sales to RAF100 appeal charities. The collection consists of four new models: 100 pieces each of the Colt Skyracer, Aerospace and Avenger GMT II models; and 25 examples of the Navitimer 01 B01 Chronograph 46. All four watches feature the RAF crest on the dial and an engraved caseback with the commemorative RAF100 logo along with the edition number of each watch.
Singers in period costume entertained the crowd as the planes flew overhead, a fitting celebration of the first, and – dare we say it – finest air force in the world.