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Review: Breitling Navitimer 01 Watch

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The Navitimer is the granddaddy of pilot’s chronographs and not just a field watch that pilots took into their cockpits. When it was first introduced in the early 1950s, it bagged a first by featuring a circular slide rule actuated by its rotating bezel, specially intended for pilots (another Breitling, the Chronomat, was earlier with a circular slide rule by a decade, but it was purposed for mathematics and engineering).

In an era before the calculator and other electronic/satellite aids, a few twirls of the Navitimer’s bezel allowed pilots to make quick calculations relating to speed, distance, fuel consumption, and unit conversions that gave them critical information about where they were, and how long more the plane would keep flying. Student pilots today are still taught to use the E6B slide rule. For the rest of us with our feet on the ground, the slide rule is perfect for currency conversions while shopping overseas.

And it’s a testament to its design longevity that the 60-year-old Navitimer looks as suave today as it did, at birth. Also, Breitling has not been slack in keeping this precious piece of its heritage current. In 2010, the Navitimer 01 was launched with Breitling’s first manufacture movement: the calibre B01 that it had debuted the year before. Having a manufacture movement is not just about prestige, it also gives the company the opportunity to specify and engineer higher technical parameters, especially considering that the standard ETA chronograph movement still used by a great number of brands across all price segments dates back to the 1970s.

For Breitling, the B01 is designed for large-scale production as well as easy regulation and maintenance. Already, it has formed the foundation stone for two more of Breitling’s manufacture movements, the B04 (with GMT) and B05 (world time). For the wearer, the Navitimer can now be had with a modern, robust chronograph movement with column wheel and vertical clutch, that’s a COSC-certified chronometer with a substantial power reserve of 70 hours.

Navitimer 01 Limited Edition

This latest iteration is the same watch in a different color combination, shedding black dial and silvered counters for dark gray dial and black counters. It’s a delicious match-up that is darkly glamorous, while giving no quarter to purpose and legibility. In a limited edition of 1,000 pieces.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 43mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, chronograph
  • Power Reserve: 70 hours
  • Movement: Self-winding calibre B01 chronograph
    Material: Steel
  • Water Resistance: 30 meters
    Strap: Black calf leather with steel deployant buckle

This article was originally published in World of Watches magazine

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