Last year in Basel, we saw a 38mm three-hand Navitimer with a beaded bezel equipped with a slide rule. Sure, it was on the smaller side for a Breitling, but it was also a clear signal that under its then-new new management, Breitling Navitimer Automatic 41 was going to be open to trying new things to reach a wider range of watch buyers. This year, we see the same aesthetic applied to a 41mm mid-size three-hander with date.
It’s a good looking watch that takes the aesthetic of the Navitimer, a tool watch if there ever was one and definitely Breitling’s most iconic design, and applies it to a fashionable time and date in a wide range of executions incorporating various dial colors, two case metal configurations, and choice of a leather strap or a bracelet. Based on the shear number of examples within this new collection, it would appear that Breitling expects this collection to be a big success and a pillar for the brand. The Breitling Navitimer Automatic 41 17 is not produced in-house, but it’s based upon one of the most widely used and time-tested movements in all of Swiss watchmaking, ETA’s 2824-2.
I’m a fan of the Navitimer aesthetic, and I think a lot of you out there are too. It’s definitely Breitling’s best-known watch and easily one of the most instantly recognizable pilot’s watch designs from any watchmaker. These new time and date models successfully transfer the design language of an iconic tool watch to more of an everyday watch with mass market appeal. There are a heck of a lot of different possible configurations here – I count 15 when taking the optional folding clasp versus pin buckle into account, and I think some of them look really great: the blue dial option below matched with a blue strap, for example.
Breitling’s simplistic Breitling Navitimer Automatic 41 range never really sat right with me. I’m not a purist, in fact, I’ve never owned a Breitling, but when you get stuck on an idea or design that just works, it’s challenging to get your mind around it. Enter the new Navitimer Automatic 41 Silver and Blue limited edition, which might well be the first of the simple Navitimers that I genuinely really like.
Let’s start with the classic Navitimer. It’s a chronograph with a black dial, cream-coloured subdials and a complicated slide rule bezel. It’s got some touches of red, but it’s primarily monochromatic, but everything’s balanced really well. My ideal Navitimer is on a polished stainless steel bracelet, because there’s no reason why you can’t show off every now and then, right? Without those details, the three-handed Breitling Navitimer Automatic 41 never seemed to work, and they just took away the fun for the sake of adding another range. But, Breitling seems to have taken a page out from IWC’s book and offered the new watch with blue hands and markers and a silvery dial. It’s simple but colour-matched well, the dial is clean and crisp, no fancy sunburst here to make things busier than they need to be. A date window is included at 6 Oclock because that’s standard these days, and in true Navitimer fashion, you can swizzle the bezel around thanks to the beaded grips.