The Navitimer is one of the most legendary pilot's watches. Breitling has produced it since the 1950s and it's the independent company's most sought-after model. Multiple scales and three subdials give it its distinctive design.
- One of the leading pilot's watches for decades
- Flagship watch from Breitling
- Chronograph with slide rule bezel
- Tricompax subdials
- In-house caliber
The Watch for Pilots
The name of this watch comes from the combination of the words "navigation" and "timer." It's an expression of the watch's functionality and usefulness as not just a watch, but also a tool. The Navitimer offers much more than just the time and date; it can be used like a mechanical computer and is specially designed for pilots.
Léon Breitling founded Breitling in 1884 and during the First World War, the company was already supplying dashboard and pilot's watches. The company presented the first chronograph with a push-piece at two o'clock in 1915, and they introduced their first chronograph with two push-pieces in 1934. The new push-piece beneath the crown reset the timer to zero. This new method quickly spread to other manufacturers' products and is the norm today.
introduced the Navitimer in 1952. Their target group was obvious: The emblem of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
(AOPA), the largest group of pilots and plane owners, was on the dial. The circular slide rule enabled calculations essential to flying. Breitling most often used the Venus 178 to power the watch, though they also temporarily used the Valjoux 72.
Ten years after its premiere, the Navitimer caused a sensation when it became the first chronograph to enter space on the wrist of an astronaut. Scott Carpenter wore it in May 1962 on board the Aurora 7 spacecraft. A special feature was the 24-hour scale, which allowed Carpenter to determine whether it was day or night back on Earth, even though he orbited the planet three times in one day. Since 2012, Breitling has once again been producing the Navitimer Cosmonaute in honor of Carpenter's flight, even though the name has a bit of a Soviet ring to it.
Breitling hasn't changed the basic concept of the Navitimer since its early days. The circular scales are a distinctive detail even on the newer versions. The AOPA logo also still adorns the dial.
What has changed is that Breitling now offers the Navitimer in various versions and sizes. The classic 01 model has a diameter of 43 mm, but it is also available in 46 mm, similar to the 1884 model. Even larger is the 1461, which has a very large diameter of 48 mm. The watch features a perpetual calendar that only has to be corrected every four years (1,461 days). The Navitimer QP and the GMT also have larger cases, both also measuring in at 48 mm in diameter.
In addition to the 1884 and its perpetual calendar, Breitling has a few other watches with special complications. The GMT and the World both have an extra hour hand to display a second time zone. The 1884 uses a hand to display the date on a subdial, and a subdial at nine o'clock has a 24-hour scale to display military time. The 01 version displays the date in a window between four and five o'clock.
Are you interested in having a pilot's watch with history? The Navitimer is one of the most legendary watches in the world. With its ridged slide rule bezel, three subdials, and two push-pieces, it has the look and appeal of not just a watch, but also a tool. Watch enthusiasts recognize the Navitimer at first glance.
This Breitling collection has a wide range on offer: the model 01 in two different sizes, the 1884, the GMT, the World, the 1461, the QP, the Cosmonaute, and the AOPA.
In terms of the case, you have the choice between stainless steel and 18-karat rose gold. However, not all models are available in both materials. For example, the GMT, 1884, World, and AOPA are only available in stainless steel, and the QP is only available in rose gold.
A new stainless steel Navitimer 01 costs around 5,000 euros; this applies to the larger, 46-mm version as well. The rose gold version starts around 14,000 euros.
What's truly remarkable, however, is that early Navitimers with reference number 806
are incredibly affordable
. A well-maintained vintage model from the 1960s costs around 4,000 euros. Depending on the watch, prices can go as high as 6,000 or 7,000 euros for an 806. Other cult watches from this era, such as Omega's Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch
, are often significantly more expensive.
In the early days of its production, Breitling only made manual versions of the watch. Thus, the version with Valjoux 72 is rare and highly sought after. The first automatic series appeared in 1969 under the reference number 1806. It usually costs somewhere between 2,500 and 4,000 euros. You can still find Cosmonaute models from the 1960s, too; they have reference number 809 and cost between 5,000 and 7,000 euros. In this respect, a vintage Navitimer is also a good investment.
- New stainless steel version for around 5,000 euros
- New rose gold version for around 14,000 euros
- Large vintage selection with prices ranging from 2,500 - 5,000 euros
- Reference number 806: models from the 1950s and 60s
- First automatic movement in 1969: reference number 1806
The Art of Calculation on Your Wrist
Above all, the watch's calculating functions with their numerous numbers and lines on the dial give the Navitimer its distinct look. The outer scale is controlled by turning the bezel, while the inner scale doesn't move. Turning the outer scale against the inner turns the watch into a round slide rule, making it possible to solve a number of calculations necessary for flying.
Using the Navitimer, you can convert land and nautical miles to kilometers. It's also possible to calculate miles or kilometers per hour and the rate of descent or climb. If you know your speed and the time, the Navitimer can determine how far you've traveled. You can also calculate your fuel consumption. Breitling has a user guide available with illustrative examples on their website.
In-House 01 Caliber Since 2009
Breitling is proud of the fact that an in-house caliber powers the classic Navitimer. It shares a name with the model, simply Breitling 01. The in-house automatic caliber was introduced in 2009. It vibrates at 28,800 A/h, has 47 rubies, and boasts an impressive 70-hour power reserve. The 01 can measure time to 1/4th of a second.
The Cosmonaute is unique in that it features a 24-hour scale on its dial instead of the traditional 12-hour. It's powered by the 02, while the GMT is powered by the 04. Both calibers are in-house movements that run at 28,800 A/h and have 70-hour power reserves.
In the past, Breitling had often chosen ETA movements to power the Navitimer. There's no disadvantage to using them, as they're reliable Swiss calibers every experienced watchmaker can maintain and repair. Occasionally, you'll find Navitimers with quartz movements and digital displays. These watches were Breitling's response to the watches being made in Asia and they remain a curiosity today.
What alternatives to the Breitling Navitimer can you find in the luxury watch market? Luckily, there's no shortage of high-quality pilot's watches. Worthy of mention are the Fortis Flieger
or the IWC Pilot's Watch Chronograph
. One competitor comes particularly close to the Navitimer: the Sinn 903
. This is no coincidence, either, as the German manufacturer purchased the license
from Breitling to create a largely identical watch during the quartz crisis. The Sinn isn't the original, but has its own advantages. It's waterproof to 100 m (10 bar), while the Breitling Navitimer is waterproof to only 30 m (3 bar). You can buy a new Sinn 903 for around 2,500 euros. The manufacturer powers this watch with the SW 500 from Sellita. The SW 500 is a recreation of the famous Valjoux 7750 movement.