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Around a month before Baselworld, Breitling offered the first look at its new Navitimer 8 collection - the first produced under the stewardship of the company’s new CEO, Georges Kern. At the show, a sixth model officially joined the collection, and it is a heavyweight. The Breitling Navitimer Super 8 is a large timepiece in every sense, mainly due to the fact that it’s inspired by a historical Breitling stopwatch, which WWII bomber pilots wore strapped to their thighs. The Navitimer Super 8 is the true pilots’s watch of Breitling’s new Navitimer 8 collection, retaining the dimensions and robustness originally required to be practical in action.
An important element of Kern’s directive to take Breitling into the future is a strengthening of the brand’s roots. The Navitimer 8 collection was so named to recognise the contribution of the Breitling Huit Aviation Department (huit meaining ‘eight’) founded by Willy Breitling in 1938 to provide board clocks and instruments to military and civil airplanes. The name of this department was chosen to reiterate the eight-day power reserve offered by the company’s onboard clocks. The Huit Department was also responsible for developing Breitling’s wrist chronographs for aviation use - it’s from a combination of these wristwatches and board clocks that the new Navitimer 8 collection takes its inspiration.
The Navitimer Super 8 is inspired by a stopwatch, reference 637, produced by the Huit Department and used by bomber pilots and crews during the Second World War. Reference 637 was strapped to an aviator’s thigh to provide optimum readability and ease of use. The prominent sized crown was located on the left side of the case, which when worn on the thigh became the top. The size and positioning meant an aviator’s hand - even gloved - could easily operate the watch. The pusher activated both the count-up and count-down functions. The new Navitimer Super 8 is not a stopwatch per se but it takes it aesthetic design cues from/ and pays homage to the reference 637.
The Huit look
The Navitimer 8 collection makes a distinct departure from the Navitimers of the past - as a much cleaner pilot’s watch - and the Navitimer Super 8 follows suit. The pared-back dials are inspired by Breitling Huit board clocks provided to the Royal Air Force at the approach of WWII, as well as another historical Huit Depatment pilot’s watch, reference 768. From this reference the Navitimer 8 models acquire their luminescent, Arabic numerals and large luminous hands.
The Navitimer Super 8 receives further design prompts from the reference 637 - starting with the central second hand, fashioned as a true likeness to that of the original stopwatch (with spade-shaped counterweight). But it’s the casing (size), bezel and crown that really receive the ‘637 treatment’.
Built for action
The 46mm diameter (14.4mm thick) case of the Navitimer Super 8 is available in both steel and titanium, with a matching, screwed in case back (3 bar/ 30m/ 100ft water resistance). Like the onboard clocks and reference 768, reference 637 had a dark dial for additional contrast - the stainless steel version of the Navitimer Super 8 comes with a black dial, while the titanium version gets a military green dial. Both are easy to read under all lighting conditions, and the convex sapphire crystal has anti-reflective coating on both sides.
The signatures of the new model are its distinctive, bidirectional rotating bezel (which gives the Navitimer Super 8 a total diameter of 50mm) - a small, red triangle is adjusted by rotating the bezel, allowing one to track elapsed times - and the prominent, screw-locked crown positioned on the left side of the case (homage to the original stopwatch but also to provide for comfortable wearing on the wrist). Lastly, the statement-making timepiece is presented on a brown NATO leather strap, reminiscent of the stopwatch that the pilots flew with during the 1930s and 1940s - strapped to their thighs.
Powering the Navitimer Super 8 is the Manufacture Calibre B20 (based on the Caliber MT 5612), a self-winding mechanical movement, and certified chronometer. At 28,800 vibrations per hour, the B20 provides a minimum power reserve of 70 hours and uses 28 jewels. The movement has exclusive finishing and is wound by a dual-acting ball-bearing rotor.
To learn more about the new, larger-than-life Navitimer Super 8, and to discover all the Breitling collections, please visit our Winsor Bishop Norwich boutique.