Revisiting The Ultimate Pilot’s Watch - The Iconic Breitling Navitimer

Earlier this week, Georges Kern, CEO of Breitling, took to Instagram to share the first images of the new Breitling Navitimer 8. This is the first collection from Breitling since Kerns took over as CEO in rather dramatic fashion last year, and so expectations were understandably high. Fortunately, the feedback so far seems to be very positive. Given that it will likely be some time before these new watches hit the market, however, we thought this the perfect opportunity to take a closer look at the iconic watch that inspired them; the Breitling Navitimer.

Birth Of A Legend

These days the Breiting Navitimer is well-known both as a practical pilot’s watch but also as a recognisable status symbol on the wrist. It may surprise you to learn, however, that the design of the Breitling Navitimer is actually more than six decades old, with the very first model making its debut all the way back in 1952. And in fact, that original model was itself based on an even earlier model, the Chronomat, from 1942.

Envisioned as the ultimate aviation watch, the Navitimer was - and still is - equipped with a rather special rotating bezel, created specifically with pilots in mind. Unlike more simple watch bezels, which, for example, might be used to keep track of elapsed time (like those on dive watches), the bezel on the Breitling Navitimer allows its owner to perform complex logarithmic calculations. It was created for Breitling by mathematician, Marcel Robert, and is called a circular slide rule bezel.

To the casual observer, the dial of the Breitling Navitimer might seem a little busy, hard to read even with all those small numbers around the edge of the dial. If you look a little closer, however, you will see that this scale features the three most important units for pilots: STAT for standard mileage, KM for kilometres and NAUT for nautical miles. With this information, pilots could calculate fuel consumption, climb and descent rates, average speeds, and other important navigation data.

These days, of course, those calculations are all done instantaneously by computers, but back in the 1950’s the technology available was much more rudimentary. In some ways, the Breitling Navitimer was like an analogue smart watch and so it’s not surprising that it quickly gained cult status amongst military and commercial pilots alike. Even today, it is still much loved by aviation professionals.

Modern Day

Over the last sixty-plus years, the Breitling has continued to evolve and improve on the design and construction of the Navitimer, however, the overall aesthetic has remained largely unchanged. The Breitling Navitimer 01 is the modern reincarnation of the legend, presented in a 43mm steel case with a black dial, red second hands, silver chronograph counters and applied hour-markers. Framing the dial is the bidirectional ratcheted rotating bezel, which ensures smooth and easy handling of the famous circular aviation slide rule.

Although on the outside the Breitling Navitimer 01 looks very much like its predecessors, on the inside it’s a whole other story. Visible through the sapphire caseback is the Breitling 01 Manufacture movement, complete with chronograph and date indications. Beating at 28,800 v/ph, this Swiss-made self-winding movement is equipped with 47 jewels and offers a minimum power reserve of 70 hours.

Offered on a black leather strap with contrast white stitching, the Breitling Navitimer 01 is the perfect choice even if you’re not a pilot. It looks great with a suit and tie and you can also wear it dressed down to the pub and impress your mates with your ability to perform complex logarithmic calculations using just your watch. Or at least you can pretend to.

To discover more about the Breitling Navitimer 01 (£6,130.00) and the full Breitling collection, please visit us as out our Norwich boutique and speak with our friendly staff.