Hot Take: Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43 Boeing 747
The Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43 Boeing 747 is the latest aerospace collaboration, and it celebrates the end of an era. We take a closer look at this limited-edition chronograph and all of its details.
For several years, Breitling has been releasing so-called “capsule collections” of watches. Many of them are inspired by historic military aircraft or even long-gone airlines. On the airline front, names like TWA and Pan-Am have graced the Navitimer. For 2023, though, we get the limited-edition Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43 Boeing 747. What’s notable about this is that the watch celebrates a legendary commercial plane, and that should resonate with more than pilots or aerospace fans. Let me explain.
The Queen of the Skies
The Boeing 747 had its maiden commerical voyage in 1970, and it was a big deal in several ways. First, the plane was and still is big. It also debuted during the golden age of flying when more and more people were flying transatlantic. The 747 was an incredibly innovative plane with its “bubble” up front serving as a second floor for seating or even a bar. The plane was the first dual-aisle passenger plane, it was made in the largest building by volume when it first debuted, and was roughly 250% larger than the standard-bearing 707 of the time. The 747 went on to spawn different and larger versions, such as cargo variants and the -800 with a bubble twice the size of the original model. Just recently, the last 747 ever, a cargo variant, rolled off the line, which translates to a production period of over 50 years.
Before we move on to the specifics of the Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43 Boeing 747, I’ll try to explain why this watch appeals to me. First of all, it’s a great-looking watch. Second, though, the Boeing 747 is one of my favorite planes and mechanical inventions of all time. In 1982, my parents flew British Airways to London out of Miami to celebrate an anniversary. I still remember seeing it take off and touch down — it was incredible! It seemed so glamorous and evoked a jet-setting lifestyle. At that age, it also seemed very, very far away, and I wondered whether I’d ever get the chance to fly on one.
The Boeing 747 actually means something to me
After nearly 20 years of extensive travel (well over a million miles), I’m thankful that I’ve flown on the Boeing 747 a lot. To this day, it easily remains my favorite commercial airliner. There’s simply something special about it. The dual floors, the massive height, the nutty landing gear, the sheer width of the cabin, and, most importantly, the feeling of solidity. The 747 feels unshakeable, and, like many of us, I’ve had my moments on planes where I’ve been really happy to be aboard the so-called Queen of the Skies. If I had to liken it to a car, it would be a top-of-the-line Mercedes S-Class.
Due to COVID and environmental regulations (the latter I understand), the 747 has been phased out by many airlines (I thought about crying when United announced it in 2017). However, I’m thankful that I can still fly the modern -800 version with Lufthansa. It’s always a pleasure to board one of the 19 planes that the German flag carrier still has in service. Plus, I love seeing them lined up at the gates in Frankfurt. Their return to service in late 2021 was also a real sign that the pandemic was finally waning. For you plane nuts, you’re probably wondering if I felt the same love for the A380. Sadly, I didn’t. I always thought it was a sluggish brute, whereas the 747 was more like a giant, lithe athlete. Your (frequent flier) mileage may vary…
Back to the Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43 Boeing 747
Hopefully, you can now understand why this new Navitimer should at least appeal to me on the surface. Thankfully, the team at Breitling also did a really nice job of designing this watch. Much like the plane itself, the watch comes across as regal, powerful, and purposeful. There are no goofy logos or planes festooned on the dial. Instead, we have a colorway that echoes the Boeing colors found on the original model that took to the skies on February 9, 1969. This translates to a cream dial with black sub-dials, a red inner scale with gold accents, and cream slide-rule bezel with blue accents. When we move around to the case back, the in-house B01 chronometer-certified automatic movement is on display. Here again, there are no planes etched onto the rear crystal. Simple verbiage states that the watch is one of 747 pieces, which strikes me as refreshingly simple.
The size is consistent with serial-production Navitimers, and that means a 43mm diameter, 49mm lug-to-lug, and 13.69mm thickness. Water resistance remains at 30 meters. For those who plan to take their watch off during a long flight, power reserve won’t be an issue at 70 hours.
Final thoughts and pricing
As mentioned, there will be 747 pieces of the stainless steel Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43 Boeing 747, and I think that’s a fair number. It’s not so limited that people will struggle to get one, but it’s also not over the top (it’s less than two plane loads!). The watch is an online/boutique exclusive, and pricing comes in at €8,750 on a black alligator strap or €9,100 on a bracelet. That’s a moderate €250 increase over the normal Navitimer. Similar to the 747 itself, Breitling has created something very classy. To me, it feels like a very fitting tribute to one of the greatest planes to grace the skies.
What do you think of Breitling’s tribute to the Boeing 747? Let us know in the comments below.