Named after a combination of “navigation” and “timer” and a mainstay of the Breitling catalog since 1952, the Navitimer is not only the brand’s signature model but also one of the most famous pilot’s watches ever made. While the Navitimer collection has benefitted from some notable enhancements and additional references in recent years, the watch is instantly recognizable thanks to its distinctive circular slide rule on the dial. As an aviator’s watch, the Navi’s slide rule bezel helped pilots to compute flight-related calculations like fuel consumption, rate of climb or descent, and distance of climb or descent. Though a slide rule is no longer essential in today’s high-tech world, the Navitimer remains a favorite among watch enthusiasts. Here are some of the most popular Breitling Navitimer models in the brand’s current catalog.
The quintessential example of a modern Navitimer, the Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph brings together the chronograph complication, the bidirectional rotating bezel, and the slide rule in a complete purist-approved package. The watch is available in two sizes (43mm and 46mm) and both versions run on the in-house made Breitling B01 Caliber automatic movement with a 70-hour power reserve. An easy way to tell if an in-house movement powers a current-production Navitimer is by looking at the dial; an in-house caliber is denoted by a two-tone dial with registers that contrast with the background while models with ETA-based calibers have monochromatic dials.
As expected with Breitling, the Navitimer B01 Chronograph is made in an assortment of materials such as steel, two-tone red gold and steel, and red gold, in addition to plenty of dial colors and bracelet options. As a contemporary version of the almost 70-year old chronograph, it’s easy to understand the popularity of the Navitimer B01 Chronograph models.
Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43
A step up from the Navi B01 Chronograph, the Navitimer B03 Chronograph Rattrapante is equipped with a split-seconds chronograph function—one of watchmaking’s most sophisticated complications. In fact, Caliber B03, which made its debut in 2017, is the first split-seconds chronograph movement made entirely in-house by Breitling. In case you need a refresher, a split-seconds chronograph is used to time two intervals that begin together but do not end together by allowing a split-seconds hand to stop while the chronograph hand continues to sweep around the dial. “Rattrapante” is taken from the French word to “catch up” because with a simple pusher press, the split-seconds hand catches up to the chronograph hand and they continue to move together in sync.
The Breitling Navitimer B03 Chronograph Rattrapante comes with a generously sized 45mm case, offered in stainless steel or red gold, and a sapphire caseback for a view of the manufacture movement inside the watch. For those who like a touch of high-complication with their high-flying aviator watch, the Navitimer split-seconds chronograph is a popular option.
Breitling Navitimer B03 Chronograph Rattrapante 45.
Taking advantage of the popularity of vintage Navitimers among watch collectors, the brand has taken upon itself to release re-editions of a revered reference from its archives. The Breitling Navitimer Ref. 806 1959 Re-Edition, launched in 2019, is a faithful reissue of the original model, complete with a 41mm case, beaded-bezel, domed Plexiglas crystal, black dial, and manual-winding movement. The only modern touches added include SuperLuminova instead of radium for luminescence and increased water resistance to 30 meters. The steel 1959 re-edition watch is limited to 1,959 examples.
In 2020, Breitling added two precious metal versions to the Navitimer 1959 Re-Edition range. The platinum Navitimer 1959 Re-Edition includes a blue dial and strap and is limited to 59 pieces while the red gold Navitimer 1959 Re-Edition features a black dial and brown strap combination and is limited to 159 examples.
Breitling Navitimer 806 1959 Re-Edition
Although the Navitimer has almost always come in chronograph form, Breitling has now added a non-chronograph Navitimer to the lineup. Inspired by the vintage ref. 66 from the 1950s, the modern Breitling Navitimer Automatic models leave behind the chronograph function but retain the signature slide rule bezel. More restrained both in terms of size and design than its chrono counterparts, the Navitimer Automatic can be thought of as the dressier Breitling Navi.
Offered with a choice of a 38mm or 41mm case in either stainless steel or two-tone steel and red gold, the Navitimer Automatic also includes a beaded-bezel, borrowed from other vintage references.
Breitling Navitimer Automatic 41
Once an essential aviation tool and now a coveted luxury watch, the enduring appeal of the Breitling Navitimer has allowed the watch to evolve into many popular models without losing its original character.