Although you’ll find Breitling not very often covered on this – and other – websites, they are still highly in demand according to the numbers we showed you last week. The Navitimer is our favorite Breitling model and comes in many variations. One of the models that looks a tad bit different from the others is this Breitling Navitimer 01 Blacksteel. Let’s have a look.
Breitling Navitimer 01 Blacksteel
Just recently I had a Navitimer in my hands from someone who was visiting our office. A Breitling Navitimer with an automatic B23 calibre (based on Valjoux 7753), probably from around 2011 or 2012. How different is the look of this Breitling Navitimer 01 Blacksteel compared to the Valjoux 7753 powered classic. A DLC case, and comes on a sporty rubber strap instead of the typical stitched calf or alligator strap. A stealth looking timepiece, with its black dial, brushed hands and rubber black strap. Inside, the Navitimer 01 Blacksteel uses the B01 calibre. An in-house column-wheel chronograph movement that gradually replaced all the Valjoux powered movements.
Breitling introduced a blacksteel version before, being a Cosmonaute and a Navitimer 1461 with complete calendar running correctly for 1,461 days and was limited to 1000 pieces. However, you can wonder what the future of DLC is these days. It isn’t exactly scratch resistant and companies – like Breitling – are exploring new black materials like ceramics and carbon. Breitling even came up with their own carbon-like material called Breitlight (which isn’t carbon as we know it from other brands), for their Avenger Hurricane. Breitlings high-performance show piece last year was their Chronoworks, with a ceramic case. Other brands that can be found in the same price range, like IWC, Panerai and Omega, also seem to have chosen for ceramics over DLC. We’ve spoken to an authorized Breitling dealer and were told that they feel ceramics – or even Breitlight – is the way to go for these type of watches.
Having said that, I wonder if the customer really cares about the used materials or that he (or she) is more interested in the aesthetics. Keep in mind though, that this watch has a diameter of a whopping 46mm. Such a large watch often means that it will see the occasional doorpost or wall. I agree with the authorized Breitling dealer, that ceramics and carbon-like material is probably the way forward.
A Real Navitimer
The above might sound a bit negative, but it is just an observation and has little to do with what I think of this Breitling Navitimer 01 Blacksteel. Although it looks a bit different, and perhaps aimed at a different type of customer, it remains to be a real Navitimer. Just like the original model from 1952 (and onwards), it has a circular slide rule (that probably no-one under 50 years old knows how to use, unless you’re into maths) that will help pilots to calculate fuel consumption, rate of descent, ground speed etc. Unlike most Navitimer watches, this Blacksteel version has only two sub dials. A 30 minute chronograph (3 o’clock) counter and running seconds (9 o’clock). The brushed hands are very easy to read, due to the red tips. The large chronograph second hand is also red. At 12 o’clock you’ll find the Breitling wings, logo and at 6 o’clock the date window. Just above the date window, the text indicates that – like many Breitling watches – the movement has been chronometer certified. I am not sure why it also indicates it is a chronograph, I think that’s very obvious. It is like writing ‘Date’ on a dial of a watch that has a date feature.
Breitling Calibre B01
The 46mm case has the same classic shape as the regular Navitimer models. An iconic piece has been retouched to a modern black chronograph and it suits him well. No crown guards, but a large setting/winding crown and pump pushers. A thin but easy to grasp bezel and long sleek lugs. The caseback reveals the Breitling Calibre B01 movement.
The B01 movement is Breitling’s in-house chronograph caliber, with a power reserve of 70 hours. Our friends over at WatchBase have a complete overview of all Breitling models using this particular movement. From what we hear from our ‘Fratello’ watchmaker who performs quite a bit of Breitling services, the B01 movement is not without faults. Especially the winding gears are a tricky part of the movement. This might be the case with only older B01 movements though. In a little survey we found on Breitling Source, 66 people were asked if they ran into issues with the movement. 17 people did and 15 of them had to offer the watch for service in order to get it fixed. Of course, 66 people isn’t that much to start with and it has been posted a while ago. So let’s hope that the more recent B01 calibre movement have been adjusted and are error free.
One thing is certain, the movement looks nice. The rotor is black to match the case (and concept of the piece in general) and the watch has a nice finish. Côtes de Geneve on the plate, nicely finished bridges and a column-wheel chronograph mechanism. It is the direct competitor of Rolex’ caliber 4130 (Daytona) and the Omega caliber 9300 family of movements.
Breitling offers five years of international warranty. That is also in line with Rolex (5 years) and Omega’s (4 years) policy on their own in-house movements.
I think this watch is pretty awesome, especially if you are looking past the iconic Navitimer models and want something more modern looking without loosing to much of its heritage. The Breitling Navitimer 01 Blacksteel will set you back a firm 8740 Euro (including taxes). That is not cheap, but still cheaper than Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon (ceramic) or the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona (stainless steel with ceramic bezel). You can wonder though, if someone is really comparing these three watches or just want to purchase a Breitling. Even though we – and most of our colleagues – don’t write about Breitling that much, they still have a huge fanbase and for some it has a higher ‘status symbol’ attraction than a Rolex for example. We had to really dig into the Breitling website and make some calls to get more information about this particular Breitling. They don’t make life easier with their rather unstructured / chaotic website. You actually have to click on the normal Navitimer 01 (46mm) and find this particular Blacksteel model under ‘versions’. Now you know.
If the ‘blackness’ of this piece is the reason for a purchase to you, you might want to consider the Breitling Avenger Hurricane as well. A bit larger (50mm), but using the Breitlight material which is lighter and more scratch-resistant than DLC. Also the price is a bit friendlier, with 7,940 Euro (including sales taxes).