The Breitling Navitimer B02 Chronograph 41 Cosmonaute Limited Edition celebrates the Manufacture’s connection with space flight. Today, Breitling is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Mercury Atlas 7 mission, during which astronaut Scott Carpenter wore a special Navitimer on his wrist as he circumnavigated the Earth three times. In fact, Breitling has therefore officially claimed the title of “First Swiss Wristwatch in Space” since 24 May 1962. Carpenter’s watch was a modified Navitimer that offered a 24-hour display so that the astronaut could distinguish day from night. Now Breitling is presenting a modern update, released as a limited edition of 362 pieces. At the same time, the brand is unveiling the astronauts’s original Cosmonaute and showing the severely damaged watch to a select audience.
With this special edition, Breitling wants to highlight the connection between Swiss watchmaking and the conquest of space. The fact that the watch is also attacking OMEGA’s dominance in this thematic niche is not an issue for Breitling’s CEO Georges Kern, however. He says: “We are not attacking anyone. […] we did it simply because this watch is so historically significant: it is and remains the first Swiss wristwatch in space.
The case of the Breitling Navitimer B02 Chronograph 41 Cosmonaute Limited Edition remains faithful to the archetype. The body is of stainless steel, but Breitling equips this special edition with a platinum bezel. This is also where the most obvious difference to the original Cosmonaute becomes apparent. The new bezel is fluted and is intended to improve operability. The watch measures 41 mm in diameter and 13 mm in height and features both satin-finished and polished surfaces.
On the side are the chronograph push-pieces and the crown. The latter is not screwed down, which is why the watch can only guarantee water resistance to 3 bar or 30 metres. The case back has a window that allows a look at the mechanics. Around the crystal, Breitling also engraves the date of Carpenter’s mission, a reference to the limitation of 362 pieces and the phrase “First Swiss Wristwatch In Space”.
It also integrates a chronograph that uses a column wheel. Meanwhile, the vertical clutch ensures that the hand starts smoothly. The COSC certificate, which guarantees the corresponding accuracy, also testifies to the performance of the mechanism. On this watch, the movement features a number of decorations that allude to the Mercury 7 mission. In addition, the name Carpenter is engraved in the metal.
During the 1960s, the Navitimer timepiece by Breitling watch was heralded as the king of Pilot watches. At the same time, however, the world was going beyond air travel and into space exploration. This bought about a different kind of competition between watch brands, trying to see who can get their brand into the arm of the astronauts making the daunting space missions.