Exploring The Story And Development Of The Breitling Navitimer

Sep 29, 2019
Exploring The Story And Development Of The Breitling Navitimer

MoreLegendary! Iconic! These are words often spoken whenever buyers are asked to describe Breitling. In fact, this is especially true when discussing the Navitimer. 

The Navitimer is a chronograph that has been produced for over 65 years. Furthermore, it has often been used by pilots in multiple military units around the globe and has even been used by some very famous people. But to fall in love with this model, one must explore the story behind its development.

We’d love for you to learn about this personification of precision and craftsmanship. Hence, in this article, we shall explore Breitling Navitimer’s history, as well as members of its watch family. 

So let’s rewind the hands of time to the early ’50s and start our journey through the history of this amazing watch.

Pre-Navitimer Era

The story of the Breitling Navitimer is one of evolution.

The Navitimer’s history starts in 1884 when Leon Breitling constructed the first Breitling Chronograph in Switzerland. The first chronographs were pocket watches. However, within 30 years this brand would find its way to building the first wrist chronograph in 1915. Significantly, this was constructed with equipment that allowed for the most basic calculations to be carried out by pilots. 

Breitling knew that there were specific calculations that every aviator needed to complete. And often, they took multiple tools to do so. This made the company decide to simplify these calculations and provide a one-stop tool. Hence, the first chronograph with a pusher was manufactured. 

History reveals that Navitimer’s true origins begin with the 1942 Chronomat. This model incorporated a slide rule bezel which gave pilots more calculating power. Additionally, it used a movement created by an external company and was the go-to model for the US Air Force during WWII.

Looking to keep their watches fresh and up to date with the technology, Breitling decided to give the Chronomat a facelift in 1952. Thus, the Breitling Navitimer was born. 

Launching Of The Navitimer

The first Breitling Navitimer ever released was the Reference 806. This also coincided with the first appearance of the now-iconic double-wing logo.

The double-wing logo was a reference to the AOPA or the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Though no formal agreement was made with AOPA until 1960, Breitling wanted to make it clear who these watches were for. Thus, they felt this to be the best way to do it. 

The watch itself was considered hi-tech at the time. Fitted with a column wheel movement, it was a manual chronograph with a rugged build that provided everything a pilot needed.

Credit for this model’s success goes to Willy Breitling, a man ahead of his time. By using the concept of brand ambassadors, Willy reached out to pilot groups to generate business and visibility for this new watch. Moreover, he was able to build a loyal fan base, unlike other watch companies of that time.

With ever-changing technology, it wouldn’t be long until Breitling embraced a new movement — the automatic movement. Teaming up with Jack Heuer (yes that Heuer) and Gerald DuBois, Willy helped craft a brand-new calibre. 

This model was an automatic chronograph that used a modular mechanism. It would be called the Caliber 11, and had an impact on the whole design of the Navitimer. Resultantly, in the 1970s, the Navitimer moved to a bi-compax layout instead of the traditional tri-compax. That same decade, changes took place not only with the Navitimer watch, but in the company itself. 

The Navitimer’s Relaunch

The ‘70s would see the end of the company’s run under the Breitling family. Due to its inability to keep up with the digital and quartz movement of the ’70s, Willy was forced to sell the Breitling company. Despite this, the company would eventually relaunch in the ’80s and bring the Navitimer back to prominence once more.

In the ‘80s, Breitling’s new owner gambled on the belief that the watch’s mechanical design would regain popularity. He was right. By the ‘90s, mechanical watches like the Navitimer gained a resurge in popularity. 

With the reintroduction of the Navitimer, it wasn’t long until Breitling added a new feature. With a new in-house movement mechanism revolutionizing the Navitimer, the Breitling Navitimer 01 collection was launched. 

So now that you know a bit about the watch’s history, let’s look at the actual models and what makes them so popular.

List Of Navitimer Models

Basically, each of the Breitling Navitimer models has its own unique features. Both in their design and construction, each watch can make for an excellent addition to any collection.

There are five main models of the B01 collection on this list. Included are two new versions of the 01 and a re-issuance of the 806. Additionally, these models each come with different colour variations and many other unique features that set them apart. 

Below, we shall break down the specs of each watch for you to see just how versatile the Breitling Navitimer is and to help you decide which one is fit for you.

Without further ado, we introduce to you the Breitling Navitimer collection:

1. Breitling Navitimer Chronograph 46

Breitling Navitimer Chronograph 46, Blue, Automatic, Chronometer, Navigation

 

Specs
  • Stainless steel case (46mm x 14.5mm) [Available in multiple finishes]
  • Transparent back made of sapphire crystal
  • Bi-directional bezel (slide rule)
  • Non-screw-locked crown with two gaskets
  • Water-resistant up to 30-metres
  • Comes with multiple dial variations
  • Power reserve lasting 70 hours
  • Self-winding chronograph movement (Breitling 01)
Price Point

$6500 – $26,600

2. Breitling Navitimer Chronograph 43

Breitling Navitimer Chronograph 43, Sapphire, Water-resistant, Automatic

 

Specs
  • Stainless steel case (43mm x 14.2mm) [Available in multiple finishes]
  • Transparent back made of sapphire crystal
  • Bi-directional bezel (slide rule)
  • Non-screw-locked crown with two gaskets
  • Water-resistant up to 30-metres
  • Comes with multiple dial variations
  • Power reserve lasting 70 hours
  • Self-winding chronograph movement (Breitling 01)
Price Point

$5500 – $23,900

3. Breitling Navitimer Chronograph 45

Breitling Navitimer Chronograph 45, Self-winding, Convenient, Elegant

Specs
  • Stainless steel case (45mm x 15.7mm) [Available in multiple finishes]
  • Transparent back made of sapphire crystal
  • Bi-directional bezel (slide rule)
  • Non-screw-locked crown with two gaskets
  • Water-resistant up to 30-metres
  • Comes with multiple dial variations
  • Power reserve lasting 70 hours
  • Self-winding chronograph movement (Breitling 03)
Price Point

$10,500 – $55,600

4. Breitling Navitimer Chronograph 41

Breitling Navitimer Chronograph 41, Blue, Water-resistant, Steel, Self-winding

Specs
  • Steel case (41mm x 14.4mm) [Available in multiple finishes]
  • Screwed-in case back
  • Bi-directional bezel (slide rule)
  • Non-screw-locked crown with two gaskets
  • Water-resistant up to 30-metres
  • Comes with multiple dial variations
  • Power reserve lasting 48 hours
  • Self-winding chronograph movement (Breitling 13)
Price Point

$4000 – $8400

5. Breitling Navitimer Automatic 38

Breitling Navitimer Automatic 38, Leather, Chronograph, Blue Dial
Photo from Breitling
Specs
  • Steel case (38mm x 10.4mm) [Available in multiple finishes]
  • Screwed-in case back
  • Bi-directional bezel (slide rule)
  • Non-screw-locked crown with two gaskets
  • Water-resistant up to 30-metres
  • Comes with multiple dial variations
  • Power reserve lasting 38 hours
  • Self-winding chronograph movement (Breitling 17)
Price Point

$4300 – $6400

6. Navitimer 01

Navitimer 01, Chronometre, Water-resistant, Self-winding, Sapphire

Specs
  • Steel case (46mm x 14.5mm) [Available in multiple finishes]
  • Transparent back made of sapphire crystal
  • Bi-directional bezel (slide rule)
  • Non-screw-locked crown with two gaskets
  • Water-resistant up to 30-metres
  • Comes with multiple dial variations
  • Power reserve lasting 70 hours
  • Self-winding chronograph movement (Breitling 01)
Price Point

$25,000 – $54,000

7. Navitimer Ref. 806 1959 Re-Edition

Navitimer Ref. 806 1959 Re-Edition, Black, Leather, Steel, Bi-directional Bezel
Photo from Breitling
Specs
  • Steel case (41mm x 12.9mm) [Available in multiple finishes]
  • Snapped stainless-steel case back
  • Non-screw-locked crown with two gaskets
  • Bi-directional bezel (slide rule)
  • Water-resistant up to 30-metres
  • Comes with multiple dial variations
  • Power reserve lasting 70 hours
  • Self-winding chronograph movement (Breitling 09)
Price Point

$8600

Is The Breitling Navitimer A Good Investment?

The question of whether a Breitling Navitimer is a good investment depends on what type of investment is being talked about. Moreover, if you’re looking for a great timepiece that adds a little prestige to your wardrobe, then this watch is an excellent investment. This also applies if you’re talking about a resold watch. 

Breitling’s name and history say it all. With that said, you can be assured that this model will provide you a great return on your investment for sure.

Enjoyed reading this article? Why not try exploring Bulgari Serpenti Watches: What You Need to Know.

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