Wrist Game or Crying Shame: Breitling Navitimer Montbrillant
Welcome back to Wrist Game or Crying Shame, the weekly series that allows you to participate in an important online survey while being stuck in the house. Today, we’ll head back to the late 90s with the Breitling Navitimer Montbrillant. But first…
With our current homebound lives — imagine how this will read in a year’s time — a week ago seems like a month. But it was only last week that I showed you a NOS Seiko SKX007J, the ubiquitous everyman’s diver that not every man owns. For $289 on favored grey market dealer Jomashop, the watch boomed to a stunning 86% Wrist Game win. Today, we’ll go with something a lot more complex and 10 times more expensive in the Breitling Navitimer Montbrillant.
The Breitling Navitimer Montbrillant is Brilliant
The Breitling Navitimer Montbrillant is one of those watches that hops back into mind every so often. It was the late ’90s and I happened to be on a weeklong cruise in the Caribbean. We stopped in Nassau and I found myself perusing the watches in the well-known shop John Bull. They did, and still do, carry a wide variety of brands and I looked them at all. But I paused at the Breitling section. After all, Breitling was HOT during this period in the US of A. The watch that caught my eye wasn’t a typical Chronomat with a blue strap or a Colt. It was the Montbrillant.
A 38mm Watch with a Familiar Face
Prior to the oligarch era, Breitling’s watches weren’t so large. Still, they were kind of big and featured all kinds of measuring scales and subdials. They were really different from the typical Rolex or Omega of the time. Furthermore, Breitling tied in its aviation heritage and showed some older Navitimers with their slide rules. For me, the Breitling Navitimer Montbrillant brought in the best classic tropes but in a manageable 38mm diameter. And at around $2,500 in the islands, they were at least kind of attainable.
Alas, I was Still a Student
I didn’t end up buying the Breitling Navitimer Montbrillant back in the late ’90s. I was still a student and decided that spending all the money I made working part-time at the local grocery store over the past four years wasn’t such a sound idea. After all, I’d have plenty of years to make questionable financial decisions. But none of this means that I don’t still like this smaller Navi. Released as a ’90s model, this watch reminds me more of the earlier and simpler Chronomat reference 808. Simply put, the Montbrillant lacks the dial complexity found on the standard Navitimer and I like that a lot. Vintage Chronomats were also quite a bit smaller than the Navitimer.
Many Variants, But the A30030 is my Favorite
The Breitling Navitimer Montbrillant came in many flavors during its lifetime. Some models featured dates, others odd things where sub-dials should be. Some even used the 7750 to create a 6/9/12 orientation. The A30030 reference is my favorite due to its lack of date window and overall design cleanliness. I enjoyed the silver dialed version, but today’s black-dialed piece is a beaut. The contrasting red inner decimal ring and the white slide rule make this one sharp number. The retro logo script and lack of central chronograph hand counterweight make this one restrained chronograph.
A Lovely Example from Germany
The circa 1997 model you see here happens to come from the seller Zeitauktion in Chemnitz, Germany and they’re asking €2,780 on Chrono24. This appears to be a gorgeous example and comes with its boxes and papers. This one comes on one of the watch world’s most famous bracelets — the diagonal link wrist wrapper. The seller even goes as far as to give us a peek under the hood at the ETA 2892 automatic with Dubois Depraz module. All in all, this looks like a nice one to me and a model that should never go out of style.
So, get off the couch — or don’t — and lend us your vote on this slice of ’90s loveliness. I guess you can tell where my vote is heading!