Distinctive for its slide-rule bezel, the Navitimer is synonymous with Breitling. Having been in near continuous production since its introduction 70 years ago, the Navitimer has been offered in a bewildering array of iterations, but the 2022 Navitimer B01 returns to the roots of the model with a vintage-inspired design, but livened up with bright, metallic dials.
If you already like the Navitimer, the 2022 version is an appealing proposition. It’s essentially the traditional Navitimer design with Breitling’s in-house chronograph movement that has an excellent construction.
The model is consistently priced given the in-house movement, while the design has enough vintage elements to give it a classic Navitimer feel. The dial colours, however, are modern, so this avoids being a vintage remake (which Breitling has done enough of).
Of the three sizes, the 41 mm is identical to the vintage original, so it’s probably the perfect size. The 43 mm is probably still acceptable on most wrists, but the 46 mm will be enormous.
If there is to something to criticise it is probably the wide range of models – two case metals, three case sizes, and a dozen or so dial types, though not every dial is available in every size. The number of choices feel too ambitious and confusing for a launch of a new model.
The new Navitimer is the first redesign of the model since current chief executive Georges Kern took the helm of Breitling in 2017. Unsurprisingly, the makeover was modest, comprising minor nips and tucks while retaining the recognisable timer look.
Amongst the most obvious changes is the addition of the winged AOPA emblem under 12 o’clock. This is a nod to early Navitimers that had the same logo on the dial, after the watch was made the official timepiece of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) in 1954. Breitling is a corporate partner of the AOPA today naturally.
The 2022 Navitimer is available in three sizes, 46 mm, 43 mm, and 41 mm, like many of Breitling’s other models. The choice in case diameters results from the different taste of the brand’s customers across the world: although most watch buyers around the world are gravitating towards smaller cases, Breitling’s core clientele in many Western countries still like the very large 46 mm size.
The smallest case size is identical to the vintage, early-generation Navitimer models like the ref. 806, making it the most historically correct. That said, the new Navitimer is thicker than the original due to the automatic movement inside (the vintage original was manual wind).
Notably, the dial colours for each case size are unique to that size. Mint green with the slide-rule bezel and registers in white, for instance, is only available in 41 mm. But the 43 mm case has the option of a mint green dial with a black bezel and registers. The 43 mm case is also available with a copper dial that’s not found in any of the other sizes.
All versions of the new Navitimer are powered by the Caliber 01, Breitling’s in-house chronograph movement. It’s kitted out with all the features expected of a modern chronograph movement, including a column wheel and vertical clutch. The construction puts it on par, in broad technical terms, with equivalent movements from Rolex and Omega, though the Caliber 01 lacks the materials innovation (like silicon) that its competitors boasts.
Key facts and price
Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph 46, 43, and 41
Diameter: 46 mm, 43 mm, or 41 mm
Height: 13.95 mm, 13.69 mm, or 13.6 mm
Material: Steel or 18k red gold
Water resistance: 30 m
Movement: Caliber B01
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, chronograph
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 70 hours
Strap: Alligator or matching bracelet
Availability: From Breitling’s online store, boutiques and authorised retailers
Navitimer 41 in steel on strap US$9,000
Navitimer 43 in steel on strap US$9,100
Navitimer 46 in steel on strap US$9,200
Navitimer 41 in gold on strap US$18,500
Navitimer 43 in gold on strap US$19,000
Navitimer 46 in gold on strap US$19,500
(Steel bracelets are an extra US$400, while gold bracelets cost an additional US$18,500 to US$20,000 depending on the model)
For more information, visit Breitling.com
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50 years ago Lt Commander Scott Carpenter orbited the Earth in the Aurora 7 spacecraft with a Breitling Cosmonaute ref. 809 on his wrist. It was Lt Cmdr Carpenter who first mooted the idea of a 24 hour version of the classic ref. 806 Navitimer in the late fifties because it enabled him to keep track of the time while in space.