The Breitling Aviation Chronograph celebrates its 70th birthday! Originally conceived as a tool watch, pilots can still use a fully analog system for in-flight calculations, it has improved over the years, and since it was used in jazz superstar Miles Davis, filmmaker terrifying Sergigan Since appearing on the wrist of racing legend Jim Clark and Graham Hill, it has evolved into a lifestyle timepiece. The new anniversary model is sleeker than ever, with fresh colors, a size to suit everyone, and the return of familiar logos.
Why choose aviation timing?
Navitimer, on the other hand, started out purely functional. When Willie Breitling designed it for AOPA (Association of Aircraft Owners and Pilots) in 1952, the idea was for pilots to use it to calculate average speed, distance traveled, fuel consumption and ascent rate. The combination of navigation and timer becomes Navitimer, so it has nothing to do with “Navy”. but navigation. The foundations of the design, with their distinctive features, were laid at that time and have hardly changed to this day. The Navitimer is a unique chronograph with a circular slide rule, stick hour markers and hands, and a typical grooved bezel for a good grip when pilots are operating the watch in leather gloves.
What does the Pilots Club have to do with Navitimer
AOPA (Association of Aircraft Owners and Pilots) is considered the largest pilot club in the world. Founded in the United States in 1939, the organization is now represented in more than 50 different countries. In 1954, AOPA made the Navitimer its official timepiece. The AOPA wing logo appears at the 12 o’clock position – the Breitling company name cannot be found. The first 100 watches were delivered exclusively for AOPA members in July 1954. These Navitimer models do not yet have a reference number. Another small detail that sets this 100 apart from all upcoming Navitimer watches: the lugs are about 1mm shorter. As a result, highly limited models without the Breitling logo and references in the first production series are now highly sought after by collectors.
In October 1955, a small batch of the Mk 1.3 was still produced, without the Breitling letters, but with a reference number (806) for the first time. This is the last model to be equipped with the Valjoux 72 movement. Then, in late 1955, Breitling began commercial production, using Reference 806 and Breitling lettering on the unsigned AOPA logo. AOPA’s exclusive production, i.e. without the Breitling lettering, continued into the 1970s, with thousands of models produced. From 1954 to 1955, Willy Breitling incorporated the Valjoux 72 movement into his aviation chronograph. It was followed by the Venus Caliber 178, and then in 1969 the first automatic chronograph movement, Caliber 11. Finally, since 2010, the B01 is used entirely in-house.
Statement watch – not just for pilots
With the rise of digital technology, the usefulness of the Navitimer as a tool watch has gradually disappeared. But it’s still a watch for all pilots, and Hollywood superstar John Travolta, a passionate pilot, embodies the spirit of the pilot’s watch for all aviation geeks in the early 2000s. But Navitimer has also appeared on the wrists of musicians like Miles Davis or French artist, actor and provocateur Serge Gainsbourg. Racers Jim Clark and Graham Hill were also drawn to the Navitimer’s charm. In 1962, even astronaut Scott Carpenter wore it on a space mission, resulting in the special edition Cosmonaut Navitimer Reference 809. It went from a pilot’s mechanical aid to a social statement Watch (or business style icon).
It must be made clear that Navitimer has hardly changed over the years. It even slips into the environment of showing off the XXL watch with its oversized slide rule bezel at times. Then Georges Kern appeared and breathed new life into it. After he took over as CEO in 2017, the company used a familiar design code but moderately modernized it at the same time, carefully preparing for a new era for Navitimer fans.
Brand new, but unmistakable
Perhaps out of respect for this loyal fan base, Breitling has reintroduced the AOPA logo on a new aviation chronograph to commemorate the 70th anniversary. Above the Breitling lettering, the Flying Club wing logo is printed on the new models, with diameters of 41, 43 and 46 mm.
But looking at the brand’s new campaign, it’s also clear that the pilot’s watch legend of yesteryear is no more. Instead, fashion-conscious young cosmopolitans incorporate the copy Breitling Navitimer into their daily lives as a lifestyle product rather than a personal watch, let alone a tool watch. John Travolta has been replaced by young trendsetters who prefer to celebrate the latest cuisine in a world metropolis rather than indulge in somewhat dated “clouds” outfitted with leather jackets, aviator glasses and thumbs up romanticism.
Strictly speaking, except for the pushrod, everything about the new model appears in a completely new look. Even the putter has become the shortest, but the design has not changed. The curved sapphire crystal is 1mm high and is designed to mimic the “double doom” look of acrylic glass of the past, but overall the case is slightly reduced from 14.2mm to 13.69mm. The case has been redesigned, and the slide rule has been squashed a bit, giving the watch a more compact silhouette.
We saw several new dial colors, including ice blue, mint green, and softer copper tones. In addition to the stainless steel model, Breitling now offers an all-gold version in 18-karat rose gold. While this was a novelty for the development of aviation timepieces over the past few decades, all-gold aviation timepieces were already very limited in the 1950s.
Navitimer’s new lifestyle layout is also reflected in the size range. For 41mm, 43mm and 46mm, there is actually something for everyone. Color variations within the size vary slightly. Stainless steel and leather straps are available in a variety of sizes, as is solid gold.
The eternal problem of date position has been well resolved. Those who value the date function usually don’t like the 3 or 4:30 (between 4 and 5) positions. It has always been a topic of controversy. The date now sits within the sub-dial at 6 o’clock, so inconspicuous that anyone who doesn’t value the date can simply ignore it – no one else needs to be bothered by positions between 4 and 5 o’clock Bell. They even went to the trouble of matching the color of the date dial to the sub-dial. In a way, the move can also be seen as a tribute to earlier aviation timekeeping models. From 1969, the first model with a date at 6 o’clock appeared on the Reference 1806. In 1972, the date window was changed to 4.30 o’clock with Reference 7806, and in 1989 to 3 o’clock with Reference 81610. So now, let’s go back to 6 o’clock.
Then, of course, there’s the matter of the logo. On the anniversary, the AOPA logo reappeared for the first time on a chronograph in Breitling, as it did on commercial models from 1955 onwards. On the 41 and 43mm models, Breitling places the Navitimer lettering below the dial and above on the 46mm models. Back in the last year, Georges Kern resumed working with AOPA and offered applicants pilot training scholarships through job postings. According to the company, 1,753 applications were received. So there is still a hint of aviation romance in Kern and his team.
Since 2010, Breitling has been using its in-house produced B01 movement in its Navitimer models. The latest generation, the B01, appears in the new anniversary model, with new finishes and a slimmer oscillating weight profile, which the wearer can access by opening the sapphire crystal caseback. The COSC-certified movement has a 70-hour power reserve and is backed by a five-year warranty.
Once again, George Kern and his team have shown their talent, bringing a brand with such a rich history and a model that is thought to age like an aerotimer to its full potential. After a brief period of fear among loyal Breitling fans and connoisseurs with the Navitimer 8 in 2018, they are now back on the right track (or runway).
The range is more versatile than ever, which will attract new customers and not upset existing customers. It remains to be seen how the exciting new dial colors will be popular and which models will become bestsellers. Navitimer is 70 years old – it still looks as fresh as a daisy. happy Birthday!
Navitimer B01 Chronograph
[46mm – S, LS] – AB0137211C1P1, AB0137241L1P1, AB0137211B1P1
[46mm – S, BR] – AB0137211C1A1, AB0137241L1A1, AB0137211B1A1
[46mm – 18K RG, LS] – RB0137241G1P1
[46mm – 18K RG, RGB] – RB0137241G1R1
[43 mm – S, LS] – AB0138211B1P1, AB0138241G1P1, AB0138241K1P1, AB0138241C1P1, AB0138241L1P1
[43 mm – S, BR] – AB0138211B1A1, AB0138241G1A1,, AB0138241K1A1, AB0138241C1A1, AB0138241L1A1
[43mm – 18K RG, LS] – RB0138211B1P1
[43mm – 18K RG, RGB] – RB0138211B1R1
[41 mm – S, LS] – AB0139211L1P1, AB0139241C1P1, AB0139211G1P1
[41 mm – S, BR] – AB0139211L1A1, AB0139241C1A1, AB0139211G1A1
[41mm – 18K RG, LS] – RB0139211G1P1
[41mm – 18K RG, RGB] – RB0139211G1R1
Stainless Steel, 18K Gold
Diameter: 46mm Height: 13.95mm
Diameter: 43mm Height: 13.69mm
Diameter: 41mm Height: 13.60mm
3 bar (~30 m)
[46mm] – dark green, blue, black, silver
[43mm] – Mint Green, Ice Blue, Copper, Black, Silver
[41mm] – Mint Green, Blue, Silver
Black or brown alligator leather strap with folding clasp or stainless steel 7-row chronograph strap with butterfly clasp
Breitling in-house movement 01
Self-winding mechanical, two-way ball bearing
28,800 times/hour (4 Hz)
Hours, minutes, seconds, date, chronograph (column wheel, vertical clutch, 1/4 second, 30 minute and 12 hour totalizer)