Among the enthusiast community, the exact date is up for debate – but according to Breitling, 2022 marks the 70th anniversary of the Navitimer. And the brand is celebrating with not a single re-edition, but an entire range of Breitling Navitimers coming in 46mm, 43mm, 41mm, in stainless steel, and red gold. And if the range of sizes doesn’t offer enough variety, then consider that there are 13 different dials to choose from.
The Navitimer is one of Breitling’s most celebrated designs. Willy Breitling dreamed up the watch in the early ’50s to directly aid pilots in the cockpit. He called it the Breitling Navigation Timer, or “Navtimer.” The watch featured a rotating slide rule on the bezel that worked in conjunction with the chronograph to make cockpit calculations easier. The watch caught on big-time. It was so popular with aviators that the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association teamed up with Breitling to release a branded design that featured the company’s winged crest at 12 o’clock. It was during the ’50s that civilian aviation proliferated, and weekend warrior pilots, along with professional and military pilots, all needed a watch. The Breitling Navitimer became commonplace with the aviation set. It was considered a worthy tool.
Scott Carpenter approached Breitling about modifying the Navitimer for 24-hour time for spacefaring applications in the early ’60s, and based on the design of the Navitimer, the Breitling Navitimer Cosmonaute was born. Beyond professionals like Carpenter, the watch became popular with celebrities like Miles Davis, Serge Gainsbourg, Jim Clark, and Graham Hill, as well.
The crop of 2022 Breitling Navitimers retain all the elements from the Navitimers of mid-century years, like the circular slide rule, baton indexes, trio of chronograph counters, and a notched bezel. The most prominent change is inside, with the inclusion of Breitling’s COSC-certified Breitling Manufacture Caliber 01. It’s a column wheel chronograph that boasts a healthy 70-hour power reserve. There’s a new date function, as well, present at the 6 o’clock position
The Navitimer ref. 806 1959 Re-Edition released at Baselworld 2019 got collectors excited. It was an accurate re-edition; a proper way to honor a watch with such a strong legacy. It meant that it was only a matter of time before we saw an update to the Navitimer collection.
The slide rule is now flattened out and the crystal domed, which visually creates a more compact profile of the watch. But let’s be clear here: Breitling didn’t make the cases any smaller. The original Navitimer was executed with a 40mm case. This new Navitimer tops out at 46mm. For those who want to stay as close to the original as possible, the 41mm variant is the closest we’re going to get. They all boast the Caliber 01, and they’re all water-resistant to 30 meters.
Since there are so many dial choices, case sizes, and metals available, let’s break ’em down.