Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43
Few watch lines can claim as strong a connection with the history of aviation as Breitling’s cornerstone Navitimer, and over the years the Navitimer line has built deep bonds with both military and civil flying groups. 2019 saw Breitling celebrate its long-standing airline connections with a vintage airline-themed capsule connection inspired by the iconic jet liveries of TWA, Pan Am, and Swissair. For 2021, the brand revisits this high-flying ‘60s and ‘70s-inspired concept with a new Navitimer paying tribute to commercial aviation giant American Airlines. Featuring a more refined, balanced colorway as well as a robust modern in-house movement, the new Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43 American Airlines Limited Edition is a natural evolution of the brand’s airline capsule collection with a handsome new look
The 43mm stainless steel case of the Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43 American Airlines Limited Edition follows the classic Navitimer formula, with piston pushers, tapering chamfered lugs, and the line’s signature coin edge slide rule bezel. Like most Navitimer designs, this is likely to wear large on the wrist, with the sapphire crystal covering the bezel scale for a nearly all-dial appearance when viewed from above. The fully polished finish reinforces the vintage feel at play here, but the watch moves from away from its ’70s visual themes with its caseback. Breitling equips this Navitimer with a sapphire display window emblazoned with a variant of American Airlines’ classic eagle logo, but this element takes the watch in an interesting stylistic direction. While the rest of the Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43 American Airlines Limited Edition heavily hints at the bright and bold visual cues of the late ‘60s and ‘70s, American Airlines only used this style of emblem from 1945 to 1962, and eagle itself has not faced to the left since the original emblem introduced in 1931. This slightly anachronistic altered logo design may prove divisive among aviation aficionados, but its size and execution certainly add a visual punch to the overall package. Like the rest of the Navitimer line, however, water resistance remains a weak point for this model with a rating of only 30 meters.
Overall, the dial design of the Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43 American Airlines Limited Edition carries more than a passing family resemblance to 2019’s Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43 Pan Am. While the overall red, white, and blue colorway remains, the American Airlines model substantially rebalances the proportions of these familiar colors for a cleaner, more cohesive look in images. The outermost ring of the slide rule scale is rendered in an elemental cool white, while the bold fire-engine red has been limited to the chronograph hands, baton handset, and key elements of the chronograph and slide rule scales. The other major change is subtler, but carries a sizeable impact for the overall cleanliness of the design in photos. While previous versions of the Navitimer airline capsule collection interspersed their unique colorways liberally with deep black dial text, here all text is in either medium blue or bright white. This small adjustment reframes the design as an interplay between the white elements and the main surfaces in bold matte medium blue, with the potentially overpowering red tones relegated to highlights for key information. This is still a Navitimer, with all the visual intricacy that usually entails, but these minor tweaks have a potentially outsize impact on the sense of visual flow throughout the multiple scales and subdials. The one exception to this more focused new colorway is the 4:30 date window, which uses a harshly contrasting black date wheel.
Inside the Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43 American Airlines Limited Edition beats the brand’s in-house B01 automatic chronograph movement. The B01 has become Breitling’s flagship modern chronograph movement over the past several years, and the movement boasts a solid list of accoutrements to justify its position. Chronometer certified by the COSC for accuracy, the B01 uses both a vertical clutch and a column wheel in its chronograph complication and offers a hefty 70 hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate. Finishing for the B01 is simple and handsome in images, with a mix of Côtes de Geneve, brushing, and sunburst textures. Breitling pairs the Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43 American Airlines Limited Edition with the option of either a brightly polished Milanese mesh bracelet or a classic cocoa brown calf leather strap.
By evolving the bright and playful ethos of the airline capsule collection with a newly focused execution and an impressive in-house powerplant, the new Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43 American Airlines Limited Edition presents the sub-line’s most complete stylistic package yet. Only 100 examples of the Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43 American Airlines Limited edition will be made, with 75 examples fitted to the leather strap and 25 models equipped with the Milanese mesh bracelet.