This Is It: The New Breitling Navitimer (Live Photos)
For modern and vintage watch fans alike, the word “Breitling” typically draws the mind to one watch — the Navitimer. Yes, the Navitimer is THE Breitling for most, and hyperbole doesn’t enter the picture when saying it’s one of the most iconic chronographs of all time. Now, five years into a Breitling revival, we finally have a new rendition of this important watch.
Breitling has come a long way since the arrival of Georges Kern in 2017. The popular brand has methodically updated just about every single one of its product lines during this period. Under Kern’s leadership, Breitling has upped the finishing of its watches, restored model lines like the Chronomat, and has created some epic vintage reissues. Along the way, models like the Premier have returned, allowing buyers to choose manual-wind movements. The big, brash Breitling we once knew still exists, but it has been counterbalanced by more refined options. It has been a lot of fun to watch. But what of the Breitling Navitimer? The news around this famous watch has been nil, and with watches like the Super AVI holding up the pilot’s watch category, was it set for extinction? No way… Not 70 years after it was first introduced!
The Breitling Navitimer — it was time for a refresh
We are pleased to announce that an all-new Breitling Navitimer is here and, trust me, it’s gorgeous in real life. Plus, the moment you read this, the watches are available at your nearest Breitling retailer. I’d say that’s rather refreshing in these times of waiting and wondering. Our photographer Bert had the chance to photograph a number of these pieces in our HQ, and I have been fortunate to see pieces in various states of readiness. I can’t recall when I first laid eyes on a test piece, but I knew that the watch was a tremendous upgrade over the outgoing version. Before we get to all the new details and options, let’s spend a brief moment on the departing model.
It’s hard to believe this because it’s almost “Rolexian” in terms of model cycles, but the now-previous Breitling Navitimer debuted back in 2010! That qualifies as donkey’s years in the watch world, much less any consumer product. Now, there’s nothing wrong with the last-generation Navis. They’re nice watches and came with plenty of options. To refresh your memory, they were available in 46mm and 43mm with the in-house chronometer-certified B01 automatic movement.
A 41mm option was available, but only with an ETA 7750, and that meant a 6-9-12 sub-register layout (you know I am not a fan). The date on the two larger models sat four-thirty, which was polarizing, to say the least. The dial featured a steep angle at its slide-rule edge that led to the main portion of the dial. All in all, these were very nice watches, but they certainly weren’t up to snuff when comparing them to Breitling’s most recent offereings. Folks, maybe it required the model’s 70th anniversary, but it was time for the Navitimer to get a refresh.
The Navitimer for the next generation
Thankfully, the new Breitling Navitimer is a proper return to form. This watch is now immediately competitive with all of the other big names in sporty luxury chronographs (Omega, Zenith, and, yes, Rolex in my book). Upon first glance, two things come to mind. First, and this is a good thing, there’s no mistaking these watches for anything other than a Navi. Second, the watches look so much “smoother” than the prior versions.
The new Breitling Navitimer models keep all the details that make this watch so special. The slide rule that was once used by pilots is still here. However, instead of that steep ramp from the edge leading to a hard transition to the dial, the new design works differently. The dial is “bowl-shaped,” so there’s a soft curvature from the edge of the slide rule down to the dial. The end result is that it flows seamlessly, and the main portion of the dial is now no longer so far away from the crystal.
As the owner of a couple of vintage reference 806 Navis (one is above) and an 809 Cosmonaute, I can only say that the feel from these new models is visually very similar to the vintage pieces. But it’s not just about visuals. On the 43mm version, for example, thickness comes down from 14.2mm to 13.69mm and that now includes a domed crystal that fits flush with the rotating bezel.
Some glorious new details
One will also note some other key details on the new Breitling Navitimer. While the B01 movement is still employed, Breitling has moved the date window to 6 o’clock within the 12-hour counter. As a vintage grouch, I typically abhor a date window. Here, though, it’s hardly noticeable because the date wheel matches the sub-register colors. Another nicety is that the “B anchor” symbol has disappeared. It’s no longer the central chronograph counterweight. I know that this styling element was a big part of the old Breitling, but it just feels heavy to me now. So, good riddance! In its place, perhaps, are the old AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) “wings” on the dial at 12:00. This, along with moving the “Navitimer” text down to the middle part of the dial help create a cleaner look on what has always been a busy watch.
Other things have changed as well on the new Breitling Navitimer. The lugs retain the signature triangular chamfers but have become thinner like the older 806. Ditto on the more domed, rounded crown. Even the pushers seem more slender and purposeful now. The bezel teeth are also more rounded and less severe. All of these details add up to a more elegant watch that feels far more current and, again, ready to take on its competition. Lastly, all watches are chronometer-certified, have a display back, are water-resistant to 3 bar, and carry a five-year warranty.
Loads of options — beginning with 41mm and the B01!
The Breitling Navitimer is a seriously important watch for the company, and therefore, there are loads of options in terms of size, color, and metal. The absolute best news is that the original size for the Navitimer — 41mm if you’re wondering — finally gets the in-house B01 movement. For fans like me who enjoy that link with the past, we were left with a sub-par option on the last model. And let’s face it, 41mm × 13.60mm is not a small watch. In steel, at launch, buyers can choose between a blue dial with black registers, a silver dial with black registers and rose gold indexes, and a mint-green dial with silver registers and rose gold indexes.
The pieces will come on alligator straps (€8,300) or the traditional seven-row slanted Breitling bracelet with new butterfly clasp (€8,650). A rose gold edition with a silver dial and rose gold indexes is also available for €17,000 on a strap and €35,000 on a bracelet. As I mentioned, adding the B01 to the smallest edition is BIG news!
The 43mm Breitling Navitimer
Normally, the watch that moves the most metal is the 43mm Breitling Navitimer with the B01 movement. We’ll see if that continues now that the 41mm has received a real upgrade. Still, judging from the number of options Breitling has thrown at this 13.69mm-thick model, this will likely continue to be the favorite.
In steel, one can choose from black with silver registers, silver with black registers, ice blue with black registers, copper with black registers, or mint green with black registers (€8,400 on alligator and €8,750 on bracelet). For my money, the silver with black registers is an absolute stunner! In 18K red gold, a black dial is available with white registers for €17,500 on an alligator strap or €35,500 on a bracelet.
The big dog at 46mm
I guess we have to say thank you to America for the continued existence of the 46mm Breitling Navitimer with the B01 movement. This is a seriously large watch, but there is real demand — just not for my wrist! Breitling managed to drop the thickness down to 13.95mm from 14.5mm. Three options exist in steel. There’s a black dial with white registers, a dark green dial with black registers, and a blue dial with silvery white registers for €8,500 on alligator and €8,850 on the bracelet. The red gold edition is my favorite with a silver dial and black registers. This piece will retail for €18,000 on a strap and €37,500 on a bracelet.
For me, these new Breitling Navitimer models are right on the money. Speaking of which, the prices for the new watches are right around the levels of their predecessors. Breitling needed to update these watches, and I think the brand did a fantastic job. As I mentioned, I’m pleased about the upgrade to the 41mm models and will also be interested to see how they play with both men and women. There are a lot of vintage vibes here, but the detail work is all modern and up to the levels of quality that we’ve come to expect. The Navitimer is once again fully deserving of the iconic status that it has achieved.
For more information, visit the official Breitling site.