Swiss luxury watchmaker Breitling is collaborating with Old Northeast Jewelers in Tampa to provide an exclusive “Honor Flight” timepiece honoring the rapidly dwindling number of surviving World War II veterans.
Proceeds from the sales of the limited edition watch will support the Honor Flight program, a non-profit organization that flies veterans from the “Greatest Generation” to Washington D.C. free of charge to visit the memorial dedicated to their service.
“I know firsthand how much this journey means to veterans,” said Breitling USA President Thierry Prissert. “Honor Flight is a wonderful organization and it is very meaningful to be able to thank veterans for their lifetime of service and dedication by supporting it.
“Time is running out for many of them,” Prissert added, “especially veterans of World War II; there really is no time to wait. This particular piece is also special because it is number 54 out of 56, representing the commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the only one of its kind.”
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, an average of 640 World War II veterans dies each day. Honor Flight provides the trip as thanks for their service.
An initial run of 56 pieces have been released, one for each of the United States and territories, including Puerto Rico. Old Northeast Jewelers’ location, in the Tampa International Plaza, will be the exclusive retailer of the Puerto Rico version. The company chose Tampa because the region has one of the largest Puerto Rican populations in the U.S.
The timepiece is fashioned after the iconic Breitling Navitimer 01, and features the Honor Flight logo on the dial and two engravings on the case back. The watch will have a distinctive wreath and copyright of Raymond Kasky, the memorial creator and artist, along with the inspirational statement, “Honor Flight – One Last Mission.”
Breitling auctioned the Wisconsin timepiece and donated nearly $150,000 to the Honor Flight Network, which used the money to fly 300 veterans from San Diego and Wisconsin to visit Washington, DC.
“Honor Flight Network is incredibly appreciative of Breitling’s generous donation. Their contribution will impact veterans and their families for years to come,” says Jeff Miller, co-founder of the Honor Flight Network. “Breitling’s gift made several Honor Flights possible; many veterans on those flights would not have made it had they been forced to wait.
“Breitling’s contribution donation changed lives.”
In 1884, Léon Breitling founded his company in St. Imier, Switzerland, where the family business remains one as of the last independent Swiss watch brands.