Back in January, Breitling released the first new collection with Georges Kern at the helm. The Navitimer 8 Collection was… shall we say, controversial (an understatement if you ask me). Many enthusiasts were in awe of “the first Breitling they’ve ever liked” but were met with the cumulative groan of long established fans saying, “Where’s the slide rule bezel? This isn’t a Navitimer. Give this its own collection!” Well, both sides can rest at ease tonight, because Breitling announced the release of their Navitimer 1 B01 Chronograph 43 and 46 featuring that signature bi-directional rotating bezel and slide rule that made the Navitimer… erm, a Navitimer. Breitling Navitimer 1 B01 Chronograph 43
Although the new Breitling Navitimer 8 has been in the spot light for months now, it is time to have a look at the revamped Navitimer 1. The most important version for the purists. Michael already gave a short introduction to all the new Breitling collections during BaselWorld (click here), but now it is time to go hands-on with my personal favorite: the Breitling Navitimer 1 B01 in 43mm.
The Breitling Navitimer 1 B01 43mm would be my personal pick from the entire 2018 collection. This model comes in several variations: steel with a leather strap, steel on steel, gold with a leather strap, gold on gold, gold and steel on leather. For this hands-on article, I picked the full steel version with the famous Breitling pilot bracelet.
Breitling Navitimer 1 B01 AB01213B1B1A1
The Navitimer 1 with B01 movement was already in the collection. However, new CEO Georges Kern (make sure to read our interview with him) decided to do some small changes to the collection. Less is more, must have been his thoughts, as we mainly see some removals of dial elements. What stayed is that the Breitling Navitimer 01 B01 is available in 43mm and 46mm. I tried both during our meeting with Breitling in Basel, but even though my wrists are kinda large, I prefer the 43mm version. It sits better on my wrist and I don’t like to have a watch that draws that much attention due to its size. Less is more, I agree with that ‘code’ and I feel a watch doesn’t become more special, better or nicer when it is just bigger. I think I got to the point that whenever I see a guy with a huge watch, no matter what brand or segment, it just looks kind of ridiculous to me. Not only that, but also way too ‘fashion statement’ and I believe we are past the ‘big watches’ fashion for a while now anyway. I am not saying the 46mm Breitling 1 B01 is ridiculous, but if this large edition doesn’t fit your body and wrist size in general, the 43mm might be a better choice for you. With my 1.90m length and slight overweight I am pretty sure I can handle the 46mm, I just don’t feel as comfortable with it as with the 43mm. But put the 46mm Navitimer 1 B01 on the wrists of Michael Stockton and you know what I mean. Just put some thought in the size you want to wear. Interesting enough Kern had a similar remark during his Breitling Roadshow presentation in Zurich last February. When a Breitling watch will not fit his wrists, it needs to go. Not sure if that would please all the tall guys in the world, but the message is clear. Enough with the ridiculous sizes.
Just like the Navitimer 8, CEO Georges Kern also decided that the panda dial should indicate that an in-house movement is used for the Navitimer 1. In case there isn’t a panda dial, the Navitimer 1 uses the ETA7750 movement. You will also be able to see this based on the dial lay-out, as the ETA7750 has sub dials at 12, 6 and 9 o’clock instead of the typical 3, 6 and 9 o’clock lay-out for the sub dials. However, to see it from distance or in a glance, the panda dial is an easy indicator that you are dealing with Breitling’s in-house chronograph caliber B01 movement. Besides the dial lay-out and Panda color scheme, also the size should give it away. The ETA based Navitimer 1 chronograph measures 41mm in diameter.
But what did Breitling change more to the dial of their iconic Navitimer? As you can see above, the ‘wings’ are gone. Already during the Breitling roadshow that was held earlier this year, Georges Kern and his team made it clear that the wings would disappear from the dial. Not exactly the same version, but find below the rattrapante model from the previous collection. Breitling dropped a couple of things, especially at 12 o’clock. The dial of the Navitimer was always rather busy, but by removing a couple of things, it has become a bit more quiet and pleasing for the eyes.
The new Breitling Navitimer 1 B01 chronograph has no wings on the dial, instead it just shows the B-logo. They also dropped the founding year, 1884, from the dial. As you can see, the Navitimer 1 B01 in this article has no ‘Chronometer’ on the dial anymore. However, on the official Breitling website the new Navitimer 01 models in 43mm and 46mm show ‘Chronometer’ again. I believe Georges Kern decided to put it back on the dials after a discussion on social media.
As written above, the panda dials indicate that there’s an in-house chronograph movement inside this watch. That’s the Breitling caliber B01 movement of course. It is a movement that has build up a nice track record in a short period of time. The B01 chronograph movement is also being delivered to Tudor for example, for their Heritage chronograph watch. The B01 movement is being used in the Navitimer 1 in 46mm as well as in the panda dialed Navitimer 8 models. This column-wheel movement has a power reserve of 70 hours and ticks at 28800vph.
The Breitling Navitimer 1 B01 uses a caseback with sapphire crystal so you can enjoy looking at the movement. On the bezel you will find some engravings, like the fact that this is actually a certified chronometer movement and that the watch is water resistant to 3 bars (~30 meters).
Although I might prefer the Navitimer 1 on a strap, the watch is also available – as shown in this article – on the stainless steel pilot bracelet. A very cool looking bracelet that Breitling has in their catalog for a long time already. Very solid but also very comfortable on the wrist. Breitling narrowed down the choices for the Navitimer 1 to a calf strap, alligator strap and pilot bracelet.There are only minor changes in the Navitimer 1 collection, but they fit in the new direction that Breitling is heading. They want to focus on the sea, land and air collections and the Navitimer belongs to the latter. With the panda dial for the in-house movement models and one colored dials for the ETA based models, there’s a clear cut in the collection. There’s also a non-chronograph Navitimer 1, like there is in the Navitimer 8 collection, which actually looked quite nice when I tried it on in Basel. With its 38mm, perhaps it is a bit more focused on ladies though. However, with a selection of Navitimer 1 watches ranging from 38mm all the way up to 46mm, Breitling makes sure there’s something for everyone.
Isn’t there anything to criticize? Well, a tiny detail that could be improved in my personal opinion is the chronograph second hand. As can be seen above, the short side consists of a B-logo and an anchor. The anchor is something I don’t understand on a pilot’s watch, never did. But perhaps I missed something here. The B is nice, or was nice, I have to say, when the wings were still there. Now that the wings are taken off the dial, there are now two B’s on the dial basically. One above ‘Breitling Navitimer’ and one on the chronograph second hand. I think I could have lived with a short red tip there as well.
The Breitling Navitimer 1 B01 in 43mm is my preferred choice, but that’s more about the taste than something else. All models have the same feel and finish. The Navitimer 1 B01 starts at €7640 for the stainless steel version on leather up to €45.980 for the full gold (gold case and bracelet) model. The Navitimer 1 B01 in this article retails for €8190, available in the black and white dial as shown here, a blue and black dial and a ‘Mercury Silver’ dial with black sub dials. I found this ‘reverse’ panda to be my favorite in the collection. The red chronograph second hand is a nice and colorful element to the otherwise monochrome theme.