Hands-On with the Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante, an In-House Split-Seconds Chronograph

Explaining the new B03 calibre featuring a modular split-seconds mechanism.
Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante red gold 14

In the late 1990s Breitling produced a small number of split-second Navitimers (some with perpetual calendars) that were powered by the compact Frederic Piguet cal. 1186 movement. Those were the only split-second Navitimers ever made, until Baselworld 2017 when the Navitimer Rattrapante made its debut.

Originally designed for pilots in the 1960s, the Navitimer is characterised by the circular slide rule bezel that allows aviators to perform various calculations on the fly – no pun intended. While the slide rule is now an anachronism that is no longer useful thanks to electronics, the Navitimer has preserved its original look.

Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante red gold 10

Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante red gold 13


The Navitimer Rattrapante is a large, 45mm wristwatch with a split-seconds that’s activated via a pusher that’s co-axial with the crown, eliminating the extra button at 10 o’clock that split-seconds often have.

Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante red gold 7

Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante red gold 15

The Navitimer Rattrapante is available in steel or 18k red gold, the latter being a 250-piece limited edition. Both versions are fitted with a “Panamerican Bronze” dial that’s an appealingly shade of brown that has a radial brushed finish.

Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante red gold 8

It has imposing wrist presence and a beautifully finished dial with fine and tidy printing despite the complexity of the slide rule. But the 45mm case will probably be too big for a significant number of people.

While both versions have the same dial colour and design, the hour markers, hands and Breitling colour match the colour of the case metal.

Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante red gold 12

And the other difference between the two versions is the see-through sapphire back on the red gold limited edition, while the steel model has a solid back.

The Navitimer Rattrapante in steel

Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante split-seconds 2

A notable but purely aesthetic feature of the watch are the different counterweights on the ends of each split-seconds hand. Each forms one half of the Breitling logo, a “B” and anchor respectively, combining to form the logo when the hands are reset to 12 o’clock.

Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante red gold 6


Though the design is classic, slide rule and all, the movement inside the Navitimer Rattrapante is new. Automatic and COSC-certified, the Breitling B03 movement inside the Navitimer Rattrapante is built on the Breitling 01 movement, the in-house calibre that Breitling also recently starting supplying to Tudor. It’s a solid movement with all the features expected of a modern chronograph, namely a column wheel and vertical clutch.

Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante red gold 1

Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante red gold 5

While the split-seconds function of the B03 operates like conventional split-seconds, it has been constructed in a condensed, ingenious manner to improve reliability and ease of servicing. The entire split-seconds mechanism comprises just 28 parts, reducing the grandness of what is traditionally a grand complication, but making it significantly more affordable.

To start with, the split-seconds mechanism is modular – even though the chronograph base movement is integrated – sitting in between the dial and main plate of the base movement. Consequently, when seen from the back, the Breitling B03 movement looks almost identical to the basic B01 movement that’s a pure chronograph.

Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante red gold 4

Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante red gold 3

Also novel is the clamp for the split-seconds wheel. In conventional split-seconds movement the wheel is stopped by brakes that resemble a pair of tongs. This is a complex and occasionally unreliable system, which Breitling replaced with a rubber o-ring that’s pressed against the wheel by a clamp when the split-seconds is stopped. Having been patented by Breitling, the o-ring mechanism results in more precise halting of the split-seconds.

The second patented feature inside the B03 movement is the isolator mechanism, which uses a simpler, stamped lever to replace the traditional pin. While different, the isolator mechanism performs the same function as it always has in a split-seconds: preventing drag on the timekeeping mechanism, and the resulting deterioration in timekeeping, when the split-seconds hand is stopped.

With the isolator in the split-seconds and the vertical clutch in the chronograph mechanism, the B03 movement preserves much of its 70-hour power reserve, even while the chronograph is running.

Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante red gold 11

The simplified split-seconds mechanism translates into a more affordable price, with the steel model priced at just over US$10,000, which is pretty good for an in-house split-seconds chronograph. That’s about 10% less than what IWC asks for its Portugieser Chronograph Rattrapante that has inside a cleverly modified Valjoux 7750.

Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante red gold 9


Price and availability 

The Navitimer Rattrapante in 18k red gold is limited to 250 pieces and priced at US$32,895 or S$48,190 for the version on a rubber strap with 18k red gold folding clasp. There are also less expensive red gold versions fitted to simpler straps and buckles, starting at approximately US$28,000 or S$39,000.

In stainless steel it’s part of the regular collection, starting at US$10,840 or S$15,240 on a leather strap with tang buckle. And on a steel bracelet it’ll cost US$11,840 or S$17,180.


 

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Hands-On with the Two-Tone Tudor Diver, the Black Bay S&G Ref. 79733N

Steel and 18k yellow gold give the Black Bay a more luxe look that's still restrained.
Tudor Black Bay S&G 79733N-1

Neither entirely steel nor gold, but a blend of the metals, two-tone sports watches are peculiar but nonetheless popular. So the Tudor Black Bay S&G – short for “steel and gold” – is a natural extension to the line of bestselling vintage-inspired dive watches.

As steel and gold watches go Tudor did a good job with the Black Bay S&G, mainly by dialling back the gold quotient. Though the gold bits are the same as on other two-tone watches, namely the bezel, crown and centre links of the bracelet, they have a brushed finish, instead of the polished surface typical for gold (the two-tone Rolex Submariner, for instance, has polished centre links). This gives the gold parts on the  Black Bay S&G a subdued, even slightly worn look.

Tudor Black Bay S&G 79733N-2

Tudor Black Bay S&G 79733N-5

The bezel and end links of the bracelet are solid 18k gold, while the bracelet centre links and crown are gold-capped. That means they are steel parts covered with a layer of gold that’s bonded to the base with heat and pressure, creating a much thicker layer than electroplating.

Tudor Black Bay S&G 79733N-7

Tudor Black Bay S&G 79733N-6

Besides the two-tone look, the other notable feature of the Black Bay S&G is the date at three o’clock (a feature also shared by the newly launched Black Bay Steel). It’s a practical feature that does not look out of place, since the new Black Bay looks and feels like a modern watch, rather than a retro remake.

Tudor Black Bay S&G 79733N-8

The rest of the watch is similar to the all-steel Black Bay watches. The dial is black with a grained finish and gilt print, matched with snowflake hands.

Tudor Black Bay S&G 79733N-4

Tudor Black Bay S&G 79733N-3

The steel case is 41mm in diameter and rated to 200m. And inside is the COSC-certified MT5612, a calibre from the same family of movements that power most of the Black Bay range.

It is automatic with a 70-hour power reserve, and fitted with a silicon hairspring. More unusually, the calibre has a date function that can be set at any time, even around midnight.

The Black Bay S&G is available with a matching two-tone bracelet or a leather strap. Both versions are delivered with an olive green NATO-style strap. On both the leather and fabric straps the tw0-tone look is less apparent, giving it a more vintage feel.

Tudor Black Bay S&G 79733N-10

Tudor Black Bay S&G 79733N-9

Price and availability

The Heritage Black Bay S&G (ref. 79733N) will be available starting May 2017, priced at SFr4750 on a bracelet and SFr3600 on the leather strap.

The significant disparity between the two version is due to the 18k gold components of the bracelet.

Tudor Black Bay S&G 79733N-11


 

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