BREITLING NAVITIMER B01 CHRONOGRAPH 43 RED GOLD TAPEI 101
For 2022, Breitling has redesigned its iconic Breitling Navitimer Chronograph watch, which for decades has been a staple of high-end tool timepieces originally designed for commercial airline pilots in the early 1950s. The Navitimer has seen countless iterations over the years and is one of the world’s most recognized luxury sports watches. It has not, however, experienced a recent makeover under Breitling’s current stewardship by Georges Kern. The updated Breitling Navitimer Chronograph watch for 2022 is known officially as the Navitimer B01 Chronograph and comes in three case sizes with a variety of different dial options, many of which have never been offered in a Navitimer watch before. The aBlogtoWatch team was able to go hands-on with all of the new Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph watches and below is our take on this modern version of a timeless classic. For me, the Navitimer has always been a staple of tool watches because of its focus on computational utility. Its core design element is a slide-rule bezel that once allowed pilots to make various necessary calculations such as time to their destination or fuel consumption rate. The rotating slide-rule bezel mixed with the chronograph offered a small universe of capabilities. Only the smartest and most competent pilots would be seen wearing such a wrist instrument, and the legacy of the learned aviation professional lives on in this decidedly Breitling brand watch. With a design DNA that was perfected long ago, according to many timepiece enthusiasts, what was Breitling able to do with a modern Navitimer that hasn’t been done before? It is important to mention some useful context at play when Breitling designed the new Navitimer. First of all, it was the brand’s goal to make the Navitimer look and feel as pleasant as possible while fitting into contemporary trends in luxury timepieces. That means the watches also need variety and be able to appeal to multiple audience sizes and color preferences. While the slide rule feature is truly iconic, few Navitimer customers are known to actually use this piece of functionality, which means the feature needs to be there but Breitling doesn’t really talk about it much. In fact, Breitling has a series of prototype Navitimer watches with more water resistance (hard to accomplish with the bezel functioning as it does). None of those ever made it to market because the resulting watch cases don’t really look “Navitimer enough.” So, Breitling’s goal with the redesigned Navitimer is mainly two-fold: to create a commercially successful luxury watch that fits into Breitling’s “relaxed luxury lifestyle” brand personality, and to offer a product that looks and feels like the classic Navitimer enthusiasts love. Note that to make the dial a bit cleaner, this generation of Breitling Navitimer Chronograph watch dials do not have a tachymeter scale, and I don’t think a single person will really miss it. It was also important that Breitling get to feature its extremely competent in-house caliber B01 automatic chronograph movement but also to make the Navitimer case thinner. Older Navitimer watches are thinner, but they are also manually wound (versus automatic). The 2022 Navitimer watches are about 1.5mm thinner than previous-generation models, and they also feature an exhibition caseback. The case thinness (they are all about 13.6-14mm-thick, depending on the version) is thanks to a redesign of the slide-rule bezel system, which is now flat instead of sloped, as was the case on previous models. The dial doesn’t appear flat, however, thanks to the recessed subdials. Many people will not notice, at first glance, the different architecture of the Navitimer dial, but it is very apparent once you start to inspect it or compare it to other recent Navitimer Chronograph watches. Breitling decided to go very commercial with the dials in terms of colors and finishing. That’s a business decision that probably makes sense, but purists will probably still be more attracted to some of the more historic-looking recent Navitimer watches that have more of a “tool watch” look. The various metallic colors and copious reflective surfaces test well with luxury seekers but make the new Breitling Navitimer Chronograph watch quite “blingy” when compared with the classic models. Adding to that look are new colors, including two different greens (one is a fun mint), two blues, and a variety of grays, whites, and black tones mixed together. There are even 18k red-gold case options in addition to the main steel-cased versions to offer an even more high-end feel. The dials are very nice, but I prefer a more matte style to watches with this level of dial detail, and for the snazzier shiny look, I am still very much taken by Breitling’s Chronomat 42 masterpieces. For me, the most jarring aspect of the new Breitling Navitimer Chronograph watch case design is the polishing. While not always true, most recent Navitimer watches have had all-polished cases — really nice polished cases. For 2022, Breitling goes a different route by maintaining the core Navitimer case style but offering both polished and brushed surface finishing over the case and the available bracelet. This adds a lot of visual interest to the case and bracelet, but the dual-finishing of the 2022 Navitimer watches do make them stand out from the rest of the modern versions of the watch and will probably help them stand out to customers who have previous-generation Navitimer models.