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Introduction to Breitling Navitimer Watches

Breitling Navitimer Watches.

The Breitling Navitimer is the very definition of a pilot's watch. Combining a mechanical chronograph and a circular slide rule led to the creation of a flight computer for your wrist, which is equally at home in the cockpit of a jumbo jet or the meeting room at your office.

Breitling Navitimer History &

Cultural Significance

The Breitling Navitimer is a legendary chronograph for aviators. To understand the history of the Navitimer, it helps to consider its era of origin. In 1952, commercial air travel was increasing in popularity and pilots were admired for their important and exciting jobs. New airline routes were introduced at a rapid pace, and the public was happy to fly even more.

Commercial pilots took on the responsibility of making a large number of complicated flight calculations while in the air. Digital electronic computers were still the size of rooms and had not yet made their way to airplane cockpits. What if there were an easy way to make the mathematical calculations pilots needed using a watch? Breitling answered the call with the Navitimer, the first wristwatch chronograph that featured an integrated flight computer bezel.

Breitling Chronometre

Breitling Navitimer Bezel Functionality for Pilots

In 1954, the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association named the Navitimer its official watch. The bezel on the Navitimer is an electronics-free mechanical computer. It's able to perform mathematical operations, enabling pilots to calculate average speeds, fuel consumption and rate of climb. Features like conversions between nautical and standard miles allowed pilots to focus their attention on flying.

Breitling Navitimer Celebrity Ambassadors

Breitling Navitimer Features

The Navitimer features a chronograph mechanism, allowing the wearer to measure elapsed periods of time using the two pusher buttons on either side of the watch crown. Breitling presented the first wristwatch chronograph with an independent push button in 1915. A second push button was added in 1934—one to start and stop the mechanism, and the other to reset it. Breitling's push button technology shaped the modern chronograph. Almost all watch brands now use push buttons for starting and stopping a chronograph.

Navitimer Design

The Navitimer is large watch with a complex dial, giving it the feel of a complicated and important device. Just inside the rotating flight computer bezel are scales for converting between standard miles, nautical miles and kilometers. Inside of the conversion scales are the subdials for the chronograph display, allowing the wearer to measure periods of time as small as a quarter of a second, and as long as twelve hours. Many Navitimers feature dials with inverted colors in the chronograph subdials, making elapsed time easier to read. Luminous hour markers on many models seal the deal. Even with the inherently complicated nature of the dial, it is thoughtfully arranged and easy to read.

Breitling Navitimer

Breitling Navitimer Celebrity Ambassadors

When Breitling released the Navitimer in 1952, the primary audience was the pilot. However, you don't need to be a pilot to enjoy the Navitimer's utility, durability and history. Breitling now manufactures the Navitimer in a range of sizes, case metals and dial designs.

Breitling is famous for their celebrity ambassadors like John Travolta, who often are pilots themselves. Recently, Breitling announced four new groups of ambassadors, encompassing aviators, explorers, surfers and actors. Breitling's aviator ambassadors are astronaut Scott Kelly, fighter pilot Commandant Rocío González Torres and drone racing champion Luke Bannister. Breitling's explorer ambassadors are Bertrand Piccard, who flew non-stop around the Earth in a balloon, Arctic and Antarctic guide Inge Solheim, and David de Rothschild, famous for raising awareness of the floating Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch. Breitling's surfer ambassadors are American Kelly Slater and Australians Stephanie Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons. Finally, Breitling's actor ambassadors are Brad Pitt, Charlize Theron and Adam Driver.

Breitling Navitimer Celebrity Ambassadors

Collectability of Breitling Navitimer Vintage Watches

Vintage Navitimer

Collectors of vintage Navitimers have a wide variety of special dials and movements.

vintage Navitimer

The Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA)

the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA) designation of the Navitimer as its official timepiece, certain models feature the AOPA winged logo on the dial and are highly prized by collectors.

The Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA)

Collectors also pay close attention to the mechanical movements powering the Navitimer. Certain models released in the 1950s utilize the Valjoux 72 column-wheel chronograph movement—the same movement used in certain vintage Rolex Daytona chronographs.

Breitling Navitimer Chronograph.

Automatic movement

Finally, in 2009, Breitling introduced a new version of the Navitimer that contains an in-house automatic movement, complete with a column-wheel chronograph mechanism and chronometer mechanism. The wide variety of models released since its introduction in 1952, and the rich history of the watch, make the Navitimer a joy to collect.

Breitling Navitimer AutomaticMovemen.

Watchmaker's Perspective

Watchmakers often take a wider perspective when considering the overall merits of a watch. Is the watch straightforward to service? Is the watch durable and resistant to extreme conditions? And has the watch contributed to the art and science of horology in a meaningful way? Fortunately for the Breitling Navitimer, the answer to all these questions is yes. In particular, the Navitimer has defined the category of circular slide rule pilots' watches. Other brands have attempted their own version of the extremely useful pilots slide rule (notably the Ikepod Megapode in 2003, Richard Mille RM 039 Aviation in 2012, and the Ventura V-Matic Loga). But none have had the overall success that Breitling enjoys in the category.

Breitling's overall horological technical development is evident in their chronograph innovations from 1915 and 1934. Before this, the start, stop and reset functionality of the chronograph was controlled completely by pushing the watch crown. Breitling found that separating these functions made the chronograph even easier to use, especially for pilots. The brand literally defined the chronograph configuration we see so often today, with two separate push buttons above and below the watch crown.

Breitling Navitimer Pilot bezel

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