Say what you want about the proliferation of vintage themes and heritage revival moments in the watch category; sometimes it’s a wonderful thing. This is precisely the case with Breitling’s famed Navitimer, the OG pilot’s chronograph with a slide rule that was specifically designed for flight calculation back in the day. The watch has been around for 70 years, and earlier today the brand took to the skies to unveil its new collection. Literally. That’s right, the first product unveiling took place in flight somewhere over Switzerland between Zurich and Geneva.
Over-the-top methods aside, the new line makes a fantastic first impression. While still very true to its roots, a dial font change, a return to the old AOPA wings logo, the standardized date window at six o’clock (rather than the dreaded 4:30), and a slew of playful color combinations give the watch a tastefully modern look, without forsaking its legacy. All told, 28 new references make up the new offering (including all strap or bracelet variants), split between three sizes — 41mm, 43mm, and 46mm. Much as Breitling has been doing more to accommodate the growing market trend of smaller case sizes, the tried-and-true Breitling crowd is still one that prefers things on the chunky side. Accordingly, the more classic “Reverse Panda” dial is available in the large and medium case sizes. The classic asymmetrical Navitimer bracelet is also available on all three case sizes, in either steel or rose gold.
Before we get to the carnival of colour variation, it’s worth noting that this launch is a bit of a slate clearing exercise from the brand. Where other brands would often keep old references in the catalog, as of today, the only additional Navitimer chronograph references are the three 1959 reedition references that launched in 2019. This also means that now, every single Navitimer chronograph is powered by an in-house manufacture caliber. The Breitling B01 is an impressive unit — a self-winding caliber with a power reserve of 70 hours, fitted with a column wheel and vertical clutch system to control the chronograph complication. While still a “mass market” movement in the grand scheme of things, it’s nicely finished, and visible via a sapphire crystal display caseback.
In terms of colour offerings, Breitling remains entirely unafraid of brightening our lives. Alongside the much more typical black and silver dials, the brand has delivered two different shades of green, two shades of blue, and a crisp copper dial with contrasting subdials. All dials have the same radially brushed sunburst treatment, leading to quite the colour shift that varies with available light. I wish I could tell you that there is some sort of distinguishable trait that interlinks the colour and size choices, but there is none to be found. In each size reference there are models with either white or black subdials, and aside from the black and silver references, no dials can be found repeated between the size offerings. This is equal parts frustrating and clever, as one’s colour preference does not carry correlation to one’s wrist diameter. It does, on the other hand, keep the brand from having too many references in the market, so the decision makes sense in that respect.
Of the many interesting variations, there are a few standouts. The mint green is safely the most misleading, in that it reads a bit cooler in daylight than press photos suggest. It can be had in both the 43mm reference (with black subdials), and the 41mm line (with white subdials and rose gold hands and indices). While most of the large references have a more tool-like aesthetic, the 41mm models have a slightly more dressy personality to suit the conservative sizing. The ice blue 43mm reference is similar in nature to the mint in its light play, and is a colour we’re seeing carried over from the recently launched Top Time Triumph chronograph.
By now some will be wondering about pricing — fair enough. Given the in-house caliber selection, these new references are coming in close to the same price as past models. $10,850 will get you into the 41mm, $10,950 for the 43mm, and $11,050 in 46mm. It’s a bit peculiar to see this kind of nominal increase based on size — not something I can remember seeing before, off the top of my head — but at this price range it’s hard to see many people worrying about a $100 jump. If you’re looking to pull the trigger, these new Navitimer references are available in stores and online immediately.