Breitling Navitimer Takes an Iconic Pilot’s Watch to New Heights
At 70 years old, the Breitling Navitimer is still going strong. This spring, Breitling added a new chapter to the watch’s legacy by unveiling a whole new lineup of revamped Navitimers, available in multiple case sizes, dial colors, and strap combinations. This is a major release for Breitling; the brand calls the Navitimer its “most iconic timepiece.” Given its long history, its popularity among everyone from civilian pilots to astronauts and celebrities, and its distinguished aesthetics and performance, it’s not surprising the Navitimer occupies such a vaunted place. The newest versions of the Breitling Navitimer build on that stellar reputation.
“We don’t throw the term ‘icon’ around lightly,” Georges Kern, CEO of Breitling, said in a press release. “The Navitimer is one of the most recognizable watches ever made.”
The Navitimer traces its roots back to 1952, when Willy Breitling developed a chronograph watch with a circular slide rule. When combined on one watch, a pilot could use the chronograph and slide rule to perform various calculations needed to monitor a flight and navigate. Just two years after the watch was introduced, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), a nonprofit group that advocates for civil aviators and the largest such group in the world, adopted Breitling’s creation as its official timepiece. To celebrate the announcement, Breitling added the organization’s winged logo to the watch’s dial, and it became known as the Navitimer (short for “navigation timer”).
The Breitling Navitimer quickly grew in popularity. It was certainly at home in the cockpit, where its unique complications helped aviators fly safely, and it became a sought-after accessory for civil and commercial pilots. The Navitimer even went to space: Astronaut Scott Carpenter wore one during his Mercury 7 spaceflight in 1962.
Pilots and astronauts weren’t the only people who appreciated the Navitimer. The watch’s head-turning style also caught the attention of collectors and celebs, including jazz icon Miles Davis.
The revamped Navitimer preserves the key features of its forebears. It comes with the slide rule and triple chronograph counters on the dial, baton-shaped indices, notched bezel, and the AOPA wings insignia at the 12 o’clock position—all hallmarks of the mid-century original.
Beyond that, Breitling made some key changes to modernize and freshen up the watch. The biggest change is the emphasis on variety. The new Navitimers are available in three case sizes—41mm, 43mm, and 46mm—in either classic stainless steel or 18-karat rose gold. There are also several dial colors on offer, including blue, green, and copper, and you can pair your watch with either a black alligator leather strap or a stainless steel bracelet.
Compared to earlier versions, the new Navitimers have a flattened slide rule and domed crystal, which gives these watches a slimmer appearance. They also come with alternating polished and brushed finishes on the case and metal bracelet for added visual interest.
Breitling updated the mechanicals, too: The watches are powered by the brand’s COSC-certified Caliber 01 movement. This movement offers a hefty 70-hour power reserve and allows the wearer to adjust the date separately from the indicated time. Better yet, it’s backed by a five-year warranty.
Overall, the new Navitimer stays true to the features and aesthetics that made it famous while keeping the line interesting for modern-day wearers. Even after 70 years, this watch still soars.
[Starting at $9,100; breitling.com]