This week we will be covering a watch with more than a few ups and downs in its history: the Breitling Navitimer. It has been loved and shunned, shut down and revived, but today stands strong as a modern series of an iconic watch. Launched in 1952 specifically for pilots as an evolution of the 1942 Chronomat, the Replica Breitling Navitimer soon became the official watch of the AOPA, a rather well-known aeronautical association. In 1969, the Navitimer series switched over — along with Heuer, Hamilton-Buren, and Dubois-Dépraz — to one of the most famous movements of all time, Caliber 11, for fully automatic functioning. Years later, towards the end of the 1970s, the Quartz Crisis pushed Breitling out of the spotlight until it was eventually bought by Ernest Schneider in 1978; it would be the mid-1990s when the Navitimer finally began to take off again and eventually return to the popularity it maintains today.
The first watch we’ll take a look at is the Navitimer 01, the signature reference in this collection. The piece has a 43-mm stainless steel case housing the brand’s pride-and-joy, the 2009-released Breitling Caliber 01 in-house movement. The movement powers an integrated chronograph with a red seconds hand, and two subdials for hours and minutes. The best fake breitling also has a subdial for seconds at the 6 o’clock hour mark, and a diagonal date display at the 4:30 mark. The dial is black, with the option for either applied steel luminous hour markers or white Arabic numerals. It has an applied gold breitling swiss replica corporate logo near the top, and is surrounded by the famous slide-rule scale and bidirectional bezel.
It’s worth noting, before I get into the specifics of this piece, that the Breitling Navitimer has very rarely been known as a piece to stay stagnant in its design for more than a few years. Due to this, the modern Navitimer is freed from many of the criticisms other watches sometimes endure for changing too much from their original versions.With that said, the 01 is still very distinctly “Navitimer.” Compared to the famous 806, the slide-rule bezel continues to be prominent, there is the option for Arabic numerals, and the sense that this thing is meant for flying is made apparent. The clear differences from historical versions are in the steel logo at the bottom of the chronograph seconds hand, more prominent replica breitling watches with diamond bezel and info printed on the dial, the presence of a date indicator, and lack of a flat, beaded, slide-rule bezel. The modern watch is very clearly a contemporary revamp of a historical model.
While the date is nice to have, very few if any vintage Navitimers have ever had that feature. While the slide-rule bezel is great, most vintage variations were both beaded and flat; the AOPA’s is neither. I wonder also why Breitling decided to go with red accents for the subdials, a Breitling “B” logo at the bottom of the chronograph seconds hand, and double tick hour marks at the 12 o’clock, when none of these features were available for the historical version. In my opinion, this variation of the fake diamond breitling watches is more purposely designed to resemble the modern 01 with a few AOPA boxes checked off, rather than a true vintage re-creation.
There is a reason why the Navitimer has remained relevant for so long, and why it has been able to both survive and take flight (OK, one more), as a modern watch. People think it’s cool, out of the ordinary, and for pilots who like to do things the old-fashioned way, it is still rather helpful. The 01 is a watch that owns up to what made it special and capitalizes upon that to become notable. And while I personally do not think the AOPA has done enough to pay tribute to the rich history of this series, it is good to see fake breitling at least attempting to acknowledge the reason the watch is still pertinent to horology today.