Tag: breitling navitimer b01 chronograph
It’s iconic. It’s complicated. It’s the Breitling Navitimer. Without a doubt, the Navitimer is Breitling’s flagship model. When you think of Breitling, an image of the circular slide rule bezel surrounding three subdials is the first thing likely to pop into your head.
My dad and I always talk about space and aviation. It’s been a staple topic of conversation since I was a little kid. Aerospace has been my dad’s passion since he was a child. Over many decades he’s passed that same interest on to me. Whenever I mention the Omega Speedmaster to him, my dad quickly reminds me (in the way dads do), “…you know? The Navitimer is the real space watch.”
There is an element of truth in that statement. Dads are usually right and modern marketing is not always consistent with history. Omega wasn’t the first to market watches with astronauts just as the United States space program didn’t start with a Moon landing. A vintage Breitling advertising campaign depicts the (at the time) larger-than-life NASA Astronaut Scott Carpenter. Scott Carpenter famously wore the Breitling Cosmonaut-Navitimer (24hr dial) on the NASA mission Mercury-Atlas 7 (May 24th, 1962). This took place seven years before the Moon landing.
Throughout many iterations since its commercial release in 1952, the Breitling Navitimer continues to retain most of its original design and functional elements. Is there a modern place for yesterday’s analog pilot’s tool in today’s upscale modern life? As a fashion item, sure, but what about as a useful tool? To assess the Navitimer B01 we will look at the watch with a critical eye, but we will also provide instructions for operating the watch’s slide rule bezel in order to focus on its often overlooked functionality as a tool.
Unlike most watches that I have the opportunity to review, I wore this one for almost a month straight to make sure that I got the full experience. I had this weird preconceived notion that I could never be a Navitimer Person, whatever the hell that is. After about two weeks, the Breitling Navitimer B01 felt fully integrated into my daily kit. I missed my Rolexes and Speedmasters, but it was clear to me why the Navitimer has remained a popular watch for decades.
Within the entire Breitling Navitimer line, my personal money would be on the “806” 1959 Re-Edition ($8,600), because of the vintage characteristics such as painted indices, hand-wound movement, beaded bezel, etc. If it’s someone else’s money to play with, the 1959 Edition in Platinum and blue ($39,900) would be superlative, because nothing defies constitution like a precious metal tool watch. But the B01 in hand for review was really a fantastic introduction into the Navitimer experience because there is a genuine connection that bridges modern watchmaking with an iconic representation of the past.
Any watch over 40mm sends my guard up. Will it feel too big? Are the proportions going to be OK? I’m pleased to say that the 43mm Navitimer that Breitling loaned me put my anxiety to rest. I’ll save you the “wears smaller” lines and simply point out that I have a 6.75” wrist that’s relatively flat across the top. It’s hard to imagine the larger 46mm version working for me, but the 43mm Navitimer fits great.
The Navitimer bezel sticks out like jagged teeth overhanging the case. The 43mm width is measured by the diameter of the bezel, not the case beneath it, and that’s key in understanding why this watch wears smaller. The action of the friction bezel is remarkably smooth compared to a dive watch, which tend to provide greater resistance in the bezel’s ratchet mechanism. The teeth on the Navitimer bezel are so pronounced that I actually scratched my son as he slid out of my arms while setting him down. Maybe this is not the best watch for child handling, but with aviation gloves on the bezel is easy to grip.
I’m a sucker for exposed pump pushers and crowns on chronographs. The pump pushers reinforce the nostalgic feeling of the Navitimer.
The entire Navitimer case is polished. After all, most traditional Breitling designs were quite shiny, and that continues to be a signature look of the brand. Luckily the black dial ate up a lot of the light, so it wasn’t overly shiny on wrist. Moving to the flanks of the Navitimer’s case, the lugs retain that high polish while sloping down at just the right angle for a comfortable fit.
The Navitimer’s caseback displays the Breitling B01 movement and reminds you that 3 Bars of water resistance means that the Navitimer is not a great choice for the pool. It’s actually a poor choice for any water activity. The crown does not screw down, and the rating just isn’t there. However, this watch was designed for use in thin atmospheres at very high altitudes, so pressurizing the case would have been pointless, difficult, and would likely have enlarged the watch to ridiculous proportions.
The Breitling Navitimer B01 features a domed (Breitling calls it cambered) sapphire crystal. I would describe the amount of camber as just enough to be visually interesting without causing too much distortion. The Navitimer crystal has anti-glare treatment on both sides. Breitling’s anti-glare treatment gives the glass a quick flash of magenta at a certain angle. Photographers love to show that little bit of color off on social media posts (I’m guilty). You won’t see a lot of lume photos due to the sparing amount Super-LumiNova on the Navitimer B01 dial, however. This is a watch intended to be used in bright light and with perfect eyesight.
The Navitimer that Breitling lent me for review came on a black calfskin leather strap with a tang-type buckle. The leather strap felt substantial between the Navitimer’s 22mm wide lugs. Breitling wisely chose a thick leather to back up the proportions of the 43mm Navitimer. The calfskin strap tapered from 22mm to 18mm at the buckle and was slightly padded. In the interest of full disclosure, I swapped the Breitling strap for a Barton Silicone Elite because I don’t care for leather. That is just a personal preference and does not take away from the high-quality Breitling leather strap. With the five options listed above, you can find something you’ll like, for sure.
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 for 2022 is known officially as the Breitling 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 Navitimer B01 Chronograph watches 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 B01 Chronograph 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.
On the dial, we see a return to the AOPA Breitling “wings” logo, which has been used on some retro-remake models but no standard collection pieces, until now. Breitling CEO Georges Kern presided over the Navitimer B01 Chronograph launch event and explained something very interesting about the brand’s logos. The problem is that none of the current logos work with all of the watches. Some logos appear better on the modern watches but not the classic ones. Some of the watches have just a Breitling “B,” and others have mere graphic logos. It is great that Breitling has so much history to pull from to make this possible, but it is also interesting that the brand’s current logos don’t actually work well on all watches. Breitling isn’t the only watch brand now to play with different logo designs on contemporary watches but probably has the best reasons to use multiple logos across product collections.
To serve the needs of various customers (including women), Breitling made the correct decision to offer what is essentially the same watch in three different case sizes. It is true that some dial color configurations are only available in some sizes, but for the most part, Breitling makes sure that the 41, 43, and 46mm-wide Navitimer B01 Chronograph watches are more or less the same in terms of style and look. Having worn all three sizes, I would say that my personal preference is the 43mm wide version, but I would gladly wear any of them. The cases are water-resistant to 30 meters, and 13.6, 13.69, and 13.95mm thick, respectively. Watch size is a matter of taste and not a matter of correctness. So the correct size for you will depend on your anatomy and, to a degree, the watch dial colors that you prefer.
Breitling’s B01 automatic chronograph movement powers each of these watches and, for the first time in a Navitimer Chronograph piece, you can see the very nice movement through an exhibition caseback. This was designed by former Rolex engineers who worked on the chronograph movement inside the Daytona and is very accurate. Each is a COSC-certified Chronometer and operates at 4Hz with 70 hours of power reserve. The watch features the time and date (integrated into the lower subdial), as well as the 12-hour chronograph. All of the watches are available on a brown or black alligator strap, or a matching seven-link metal bracelet (steel or gold depending on the version). The bracelet option (in steel) costs just $400 more and also features a new butterfly-style deployant clasp, a serious upgrade from the previous fold-over deployant clasps.
The new for 2022 Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph comes just in time for the 70th anniversary of the original Navitimer from 1952. The collection is as dazzling and handsome as ever, while Breilting hopes the invigorated new colors and styling will help the thinking person’s tool watch appeal to a more general luxury audience. There are no fewer than 15 new versions available at launch, and the full pricing for all of the latest Breitling B01 Chronograph watches
The Breitling Navitimer 01 is the first Navitimer with the new in-house Breitling B01 movement. The Navitimer is maybe one of a handful of original classic aviator watch designs and Breitling can claim that it’s the only wristwatch chronograph in continuous production for more than 50 years. With the B01 movement, Breitling has recently extended the guarantee of the Navitimer 01 to five years from the typical industry standard of two years.
Another important historical fact is that the Navitimer was first released around the time of the invention of the automatic chronograph (late 60s) in collaboration with brands like Heuer, Hamilton, and Zenith. And like all Breitling watches, the Navitimer 01 is certified C.O.S.C. However, it is fair to ask what makes this watch special and deserving of your horological time and passion and of maybe your emotional and monetary investments?
Well, like most Breitling watches, it has a certain “bling” to it and that makes it easily noticeable. Part of the reason is that Breitling uses a highly polished steel case and the classic Navitimer fluted ring on the bezel. However, this Navitimer does have differentiating touches from previous versions.
First, what has not changed is the patented Breitling style and super busy dial that somehow remains legible. The dial is black with three silvery white subdials and a silvery white slide rule ring at the periphery that turns smoothly with the bezel yet with also a measured resistance. Like all Navitimers, the dial includes three concentric rings of markers that essentially transforms the watch into an analog computer. If you know how to use it, that is…
Using the slide-rule (the bezel) and the chronograph function, one can measure average speed and productivity rate, perform various calculations such as currency conversion, multiply and divide numbers, calculate ground speed and miles per minute, calculate rate of climb or descent, gas consumption, and of course elapsed time. Using the bezel and the current position of the sun in the sky, you can also use the Navitimer as a compass. And, if this was not enough for your analog computing pleasures, the solid caseback includes, along with the unique serial number of the watch, a Celsius to Fahrenheit table to easily convert temperatures. A recent post (How to Use a Watch Bezel Slide Rule) this summer on https://www.perfectwrist.co/ explained how to use these types of computing bezel slide rules.
Two really nice touches on the busy dial are first the brand’s anchored B-winged logo applied and raised in yellow gold and second, a surprisingly great, yet minimal, application of Super-LumiNova. The lume is applied on the hour and minutes hands and applied as square dots on the hour markers. While at first you would think that this won’t make a difference in night legibility, it actually results in a dial that is quite legible in the dark. You only need to charge the lume for a few minutes and voilà, you can tell the time in the dark for a few hours. The date window (not lumed) between 4 and 5 o’clock integrates nicely with the dial and subtly, yet visibly, shows the date in white with a black background.
But what maybe is the most important aspect of this Navitimer and also explains the nice, short, 01 moniker is the movement. It’s the first Breitling manufacture movement, the B01. This is the same movement used in the Chronomat B01 and other newer Breitling models. That same movement is also the basis for the Breitling B02 and B03 in-house variations. It is a classic column-wheel chronograph design which is typically agreed by most to be a better design for a chronograph than alternatives like lever or cam actuated movements. While being a common design and not revolutionary, creating a new completely in-house column wheel chronograph is no small feat and pushing the guarantee to five years shows the brand’s confidence on the reliability of that new movement.
Additionally, the 01 movement has a quick date change feature as well as a hacking second. On top of this, you get almost three full days (70 hours) of power reserve. Well done Breitling, and welcome to the league of true timepiece manufactures.
The chronograph is the classic two-pusher type with a start/stop button and reset button. The feel on the buttons is measured with a satisfying click. At first it might appear a bit too hard but it is done really well since that resistance will help guarantee that the buttons are pressed only when you want them to.
When started, the distinctive red seconds arrow hand with the anchored B-logo counter balance, moves around the dial in micro steps and the minutes counter at 3 o’clock only moves one position at the 60 seconds marker. The hour tally at 6 o’clock counts up to 12 hours and moves slightly between the hour markers indicating 15, 30, and 45 minutes for the current hour count.
Another nice touch is that the hands for each of these tally subdial is done in the same shiny stainless steel as the case, however, the background is silvery white with a radiating pattern that contrasts well with the black dial and silver hands. The result is a watch with a really distinctive look, especially since the rotating slide rule background is also of that same silvery white finish. Truly an elegant, unique instrument style, that is recognizable from a crowded chronograph pilot watch market…
The most understated part of this Navitimer 01 is also one of my favorite features, the strap and excellent folding clasp and buckle. The black calf leather strap is padded and has a really nice heavy white stitching that matches well the black/white dial. The leather is soft but yet thick and the padding makes it very comfortable once adjusted.
Adjusting the strap is easily done by pulling on the end of the strap that is loose over the folding clasp. The clasp and buckle are in the same shiny stainless steel and the buckle has the brand’s B-winged logo applied and raised. Another brilliant design touch.
The buckle easily clicks into place while securely helping wrap the strap on the wrist. This ease of adjustment was really useful on a recent trip to Hawaii where I wore it all day. And at 120 grams the watch is light which also contributes to making the Navitimer 01 simply a joy to wear. A serious instrument, yet so light and comfortable that you can forget you have it with you.
At 43 mm the Navitimer is not a small watch, however, due to the center black dial and the surrounding silvery white slide rule, the watch wears and appears smaller. The recessed vase-like shape of the Navitimer’s dial also contributes to this illusion.
Breitling does offer a limited edition of the Navitimer 01 in steel that, as far as I can tell, has four hardly noticeable changes from the one reviewed here. Differences are: 1) a white gold B-winged logo on the dial instead of yellow gold, 2) the date aperture has white background with red digits instead of black background and white digits, 3) the serial number (up to 2000) is engraved on the side of the case, and 4) a sapphire crystal caseback showing the in-house B01 movement. Of these changes, the only one I wish mine also had is the see-through caseback…
Overall I am highly satisfied with the Breitling Navitimer B01, and as my first introduction to Breitling watches I think I could not have picked a better model. While certainly a noticeable watch with a “blingy” look, the contrasting black and silvery white dial give it the feel of a true instrument. The accuracy of the chronograph due to that in-house C.O.S.C caliber 01 movement and the various features of the dial make it a utility watch that I can geek out with for hours while also reminding me of one of the 20th century greatest human achievement: aviation.
If I have any negative opinions about this watch is that I have yet to master, without referring to the manual, the various features of the dial. Also, this is not a watch you want to get wet. It’s listed at 30 meters water resistant, however, the dealer and Breitling (via the manual) are pretty clear about this: do not submerge it… I guess, the slide rule, while super cool, does have a clear shortcoming.
If you want a classic pilot watch that has strong real history and that only got better with a new in-house movement, but is now guaranteed for five years, the Breitling Navitimer 01 should be on the top of your list. You are getting a superb timepiece with real pedigree and a brand that, maybe like no other, has a passion and dedication to aviation that is unquestionable.
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Navitimer B03 Chronograph Rattrapante 45. In 2017, Breitling introduced the B03 Chronograph with split-seconds functionality (rattrapante in French). This elaborate complication of the caliber B03 features two superimposed chronograph hands that can measure elapsed times independently of one another.
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