At the end of January, the last Boeing 747 rolled off the production line at Boeing’s assembly plant in Everett, Washington. That plane, the 1,574th 747 ever built, marks the end of one of the greatest stories in aviation history. To commemorate this event and celebrate the legacy of the original jumbo jet, Breitling is releasing a special edition of its Navitimer B01 chronograph in its honour. Here’s what makes this watch, and its namesake aircraft, so special.
The first Boeing 747 taxied onto the runway in 1969, when golden-era airlines like Pan-Am and TWA ruled the skies, and intercontinental flights were still considered a luxury experience. When the first 747 took off for its maiden commercial flight between New York and London in 1970 it ushered in a new era of mass air travel. Known as the “Queen of the Skies,” it had two aisles, two decks, and could carry twice as many passengers as the next-largest jetliner. With a range of more than 5,000 nautical miles, the 747 would revolutionize commercial aviation by putting long-haul flights within reach of more people than ever before.
The Navitimer, Breitling’s signature pilot’s watch, is a particularly appropriate choice to celebrate this aircraft’s game-changing legacy. Designed in the 1950s for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), it includes a circular slide rule that can perform in-flight calculations — an especially useful feature in the pre-digital age. This design made the Navitimer an essential cockpit tool for countless professional and amateur pilots for decades and helped to establish it as one of Breitling’s most popular models.
“What better way to remember a revolutionary jumbo jet than with a revolutionary pilot’s chronograph,” concurs Breitling CEO Georges Kern speaking about the newest Navitimer. “The Boeing 747 brought style to the skies, just as the Navitimer brought the spirit of aviation to style-savvy watch enthusiasts.”
Just as the Navitimer has been available in countless styles and colour combinations over the years, from editions in yellow and rose gold to new versions with colourful modern dials, the 747 has been available in many stylish configurations as well, including early examples for American Airlines that were equipped with onboard piano bars and a flying mansion customized to the tune of over $100 million by the Sultan of Brunei.
The newest Navitimer, however, is still the sturdy cockpit instrument it’s always been. Details like the AOPA logo at 12 o’clock, a dial that echoes the colour palette of the original Boeing 747, and “Boeing 747” printed on the slide rule’s inner scale pay homage to the 747, as do the words “The Original Jumbo Jet” engraved around the sapphire display case back. Limited to — you guessed it — 747 pieces, the new Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph Boeing 747 is a fitting tribute to one of the most important aircraft to ever take to the skies. The price? It’ll set you back $11,300 if you’re able to find one before they sell out.