Is The 1995 Breitling Old Navitimer “Snowbirds” Limited Edition The Best Navitimer Of All Time?
Breitling made 1,000 pieces of this Old Navitimer with the red and white logo at 3 o’clock. That’s a lot more than there are pilots in the flight demonstration team of the Royal Canadian Air Force. But no matter: piloting the 1995 Breitling Old Navitimer “Snowbirds” Limited Edition is a lot easier than doing barrel rolls with a CT-114 Tutor. You just put it on your wrist, close your eyes, and pretend you’re a Canadian Maverick. Or Iceman, it’s up to you.
Of all Breitlings, the Navitimer is the one I like the most. I’ve owned quite a few of them — my favorite being the Navitimer Fighters ref. A13330 with its brushed case and bracelet— and loved them. Unfortunately, thanks to finding myself tempted by a limited edition Emergency, the Navitimer disappeared from the collection. When I spotted this limited edition Old Navitimer A13022 with its special emblem on the dial it made me miss my Navitimers from the past and made me want one all over again. Perhaps this one itself. After all, it is one of the finest executions of the design ever. But is it the best?
Flying The 1995 Breitling Old Navitimer “Snowbirds” Limited Edition
I can really see myself rocking the 1995 Breitling Old Navitimer “Snowbirds” Limited Edition with its steel 41.8×14.6mm case. In my opinion, this is the best size for a Navitimer. Okay, the original model from 1959 had a 40mm case and the same goes for the Ref. 806 1959 Re-Edition, but 0.2mm shy of 42mm gives the watch just a tad more modernity. Breitling even “inflated” the case to a whopping 48mm for the Navitimer GMT, but that’s far too big for my taste — disproportionate even. It was a bit like what Volkswagen did to revive its original Beetle. The New Beetle looked like a 110% version of a car you see in the streets. A 48mm Navitimer is for 110% people, IMHO — larger than life characters, to put it positively.
Old like the original Navitimer 806
Back to the reality of the Old Navitimer. Why Old Navitimer and not just Navitimer? Well, in the ’90s mechanical watches made a strong comeback after almost being annihilated by quartz models. Breitling then re-introduced the Navitimer. Not with the original hand-wound Venus 178, but with an automatic Valjoux 7750 instead. A whole range of varieties was introduced such as the Airborne with its 4 sub-counters. The Old Navitimer stayed close to the old 1995 806 with its reverse panda dial and three counter.
The ETA 7750 inside is a comforting idea
The 41.8mm Old Navitimer “Snowbirds” Limited Edition looks bigger because of the absence of a prominent bezel and a flattish crystal. Then again, the bezel may be small it’s still very distinct. Under the flat mineral glass, the “Snowbirds” edition shows the characteristic slide rule, stick hands, and Arabic numerals in creamy tritium. Within the case, behind a solid case back with an engraving of the Snowbirds emblem, beats the automatic caliber B13 which is basically a trusty ETA 7750. Well, you’re not buying this 1995 Breitling because of its movement, but because of its looks. That said, having a solid chronograph movement inside that can easily be repaired and/or serviced is a comforting thought. While many will point to the performance comparison with the modern in-house alternative, that argument holds little weight with me.
Box and papers and ideas for another strap
Have a look at Zeitauktion’s website if you’re interested in taking the 1995 Breitling Old Navitimer “Snowbirds” Limited Edition for a spin. You’ll find it there for the friendly price of €3,950. The watch is in very good condition, and it comes with its original box with papers. The strap is a made-in-Germany leather one, and it has a no-name buckle. I’m thinking about a decent black NATO strap with one subtle red stripe for this Navitimer to match the emblem. Or maybe a strap that matches the creamy patina of the numerals. What do you think? Oh, and please don’t blame me if it’s gone once you get to the Zeitauktion website. Well, maybe you can, actually, because this particular “Snowbirds” edition makes me want a Navitimer again. Badly…
Please find and follow me at Lex Stolk • Instagram