Pre-Owned Spotlight: Three Neo-Vintage Breitling Navitimers For Under €5K Each
Who else here finds the rising prices of watches depressing? Okay, I see a few hands up, so I guess I’m not alone. Thankfully, the pre-owned market can offer some solace with many iconic watches that are still relatively attainable. These days, I believe the key is either to go neo-vintage or choose the variations that are off the beaten path. The Breitling Navitimer line offers ample opportunity to do this, and I think it’s time we shared some intriguing options in our Pre-Owned Spotlight!
If you want to buy a Breitling Navitimer (chronograph) at retail today, you’ll have to fork over at least €7,700. That’s the price for the Navitimer Ref. 806 1959 Re-Edition, a watch that Mike reviewed back in 2019 here. It’s surprising that this 1,959-piece limited edition is still in Breitling’s catalog almost four years later. However, it’s markedly cheaper than the closest option, the €8,400 Navitimer B01 Chronograph 41 on a strap. Although I love the Navitimer and think the newest ones are brilliant, I doubt that I could bring myself to pay prices like that. For me, the sweet spot is €3K–5K. That makes a watch purchase feel special while not hurting too much. And though financial matters are always highly personal, I thought I’d share some lovely Navitimers in this range. I believe they pack a proper punch for the deal-seekers among us, so let’s take a look!
Breitling Old Navitimer II ref. A13022
This model is our entry point for today, as it’s a great, standard option for a reasonable price. While the listing simply calls this watch the “Old Navitimer,” this reference is actually the Old Navitimer II. Somewhat confusingly, it was the third in the Old Navitimer series, which began with the ref. 81600 in 1985. That model was the first Navitimer to come back into production after Ernest Schneider purchased Breitling six years earlier. It used a hand-wound Lemania movement with a 3-6-9 sub-dial layout, and it had a mineral crystal and a snap-on case back. The Old Navitimer I (ref. 81610) followed in 1989, housing the famous ETA/Valjoux 7750 movement (Breitling caliber 13). With it came a 12-6-9 sub-dial layout, but the snap-on back and mineral crystal remained. Finally, the Old Navtimer II (ref. A13022) came out in 1993, featuring a new screw-down case back and a sapphire crystal.
The Old Navitimer II also saw the addition of the “script B” counterweight to the chronograph seconds hand. This is a design hallmark of the Schneider era, as is the “Breitling Wings & Anchor” logo at 3 o’clock. Despite the Navitimer’s busy look, the black dial, baton indices, silver registers, and white slide rule make this model quite legible. The blued hands in the sub-dials look awesome, and the lume on the central hour and minute hands appears to match the tritium pips on the dial. Size-wise, the Old Navitimer II is fairly traditional, measuring 41.5mm across the bezel, 48mm from lug to lug, and 14.2mm thick. This example comes on a black Breitling leather strap, measuring 22mm between the lugs and tapering to 18mm wide at the folding clasp.
Things to consider
Though this model looks to be in good overall condition for its age, there are some fairly deep scratches on the bezel near 1 o’clock. In addition, you may want to check with the dealer if the lumed hands do in fact match the tritium pips. And while you’re at it, see if you can get an idea of when the watch was last serviced and how it’s running. Finally, the watch does come with its original box and manual but no original receipt or warranty card. This Old Navitimer II is for sale from the Japanese dealer Dealmaker via Chrono24 for ¥388,500 (approximately €2,847). Thankfully, the dealer has many good reviews and seems willing to answer questions if you reach out.
Breitling Navitimer 92 ref. A30021
This one is a bit of an oddball, but it is one of the cleanest Navitimer chronographs out there. It forgoes the busy bezel and scales of the standard Navitimer in exchange for the simpler slide rule/telemeter bezel from the 1940s Chronomat. This model is also smaller than most Navitimers. It measures just 38mm across the bezel, 44mm from lug to lug, and 11.5mm thick, including the sapphire crystal. That last measurement is particularly impressive when you consider that this is an automatic, modular chronograph. Indeed, the movement inside is the Breitling caliber 30, an ETA 2892-A2 with a Dubois Dépraz module. In contrast to the Valjoux 7750, this module has a vertical clutch for smoother engagement of the chronograph mechanism. Yes, it will likely be a bit more expensive to service, but I think it’s a fair tradeoff for such a slim case profile.
Despite the listing’s claim that this watch is from 1998, the Navitimer 92 (refs. A30021 and A30022) had a four-year production run from 1992 to 1996. That’s just a blip in the Navitimer’s 71-year history, but I’m glad it happened. The result was a pared-back, lovable weirdo — or was it the only “normal” member of the Navitimer family after all? Regardless, I adore how everything is so balanced, from the scales to the sub-dials and even the Arabic-numeral indices. The blue dial looks fantastic with its tritium patina, and I think the hour and minute hands may have tritium lume too. Again, perhaps ask the dealer to confirm this and check how the watch is running as well.
This watch comes on a 20mm-wide brown leather strap with a Breitling pin buckle. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with the original box or papers, but if you only want to wear the watch, that’s not the end of the world. You can find this Navitimer 92 for sale for €3,200 through the Italian dealer Gioielleria Brandizzi on Chrono24. For such a good-looking and wearable version of a legendary watch, you could do a lot worse.
Breitling Navitimer Mecanique Série Limitée ref. A11022.1
When I found this one while preparing to write this article, I made, for lack of a better term, that “Oooh, dayum!” face. I had never seen this limited edition before, but I’m certainly glad that I have now (and this video too!). This Navitimer Mecanique ref. A11022.1 is from 1999. It was a 45th-anniversary tribute to the Navitimer ref. 806 and part of a limited run of 400 pieces for the Japanese market. And if you love gold-on-black dials as much as I do, this one will immediately speak to you. There is no lume anywhere except for the hands, but the gold printing shimmers like the text on a true gilt dial. The old-school Breitling logo is a nice touch too, giving this model a vintage style long before vintage watches took off.
The case of this one measures 41.5mm across the bezel, 48mm from lug to lug, and 13.5mm thick. As all Navitimers did by 1999, it sports a sapphire crystal, but it also has a rather rare display back. Breitling reserved this case back for Série Limitée models, and through it, you can see the Lemania 1873 (Breitling caliber 11). If you’re a Speedmaster fan, as many around these parts are, you’ll know that this movement was also the base for the Omega 1861. As such, it is an 18-jewel hand-wound caliber with a 21,600vph (3Hz) frequency and a 48-hour power reserve. Interestingly, unlike Omega, Breitling opted to keep the Delrin chronograph brake, which is clearly visible. But despite this little quirk and its rather standard finishing, I find the movement and its architecture quite enjoyable to look at.
Things to keep in mind
Initially, due to the fairly white-looking lume, I thought that the hour and minute hands had been replaced. However, one of our readers reminded me that the industry was already transitioning from tritium to Luminova in 1999, so these hands may be original. After digging a bit, I want to say that he’s right. It is tough to say for sure, though, so bear that in mind. The bracelet is definitely a more modern (but thoroughly awesome) 22mm-wide Breitling mesh bracelet from the Superocean Heritage series. Most examples of this model that I’ve seen online have come on a strap, which is likely how they came from the factory. Finally, this watch is missing the original box and papers, but it received a service in June 2022 and is running at +7 seconds per day. This watch is available domestically through the Japanese dealer Herios for ¥468,000. Those outside of Japan, however, can purchase it through Timepeaks for approximately €3,715, which I highly recommend.
I mentioned that each of these Navitimer models would come in under €5K, and even with Europe’s high import taxes, that should be the case. What do you think of the watches in the spotlight today? Would you like to see more Navitimer variants in the future? Let me know in the comments!
For a great overview of historical Navitimer models, check out Breitling’s official archive page.