Breitling Navitimer 01 – 43mm Edition Review

by Sameera Gamage
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“An all-time favourite among pilots and aeronautical enthusiasts since 1952” – Breitling

If you have ever been on the look out for a pilot’s watch, whether being a pilot yourself or just having pure admiration for the workings of pilot watch then the Breitling Navitimer has to be up there at the top of the list. 

Breitling has a variation of models in the Navitimer range, with sizes ranging from 38mm all the way to 48mm. The model we have in our hands today is the Navitimer 01 version in 43mm diameter. This Navitimer is the previous edition to the current Navitimer 1 B01 Chronograph in 43mm diameter. The two models are relatively unchanged with the new model getting a facelift logo on the dial and the addition of a sapphire crystal case back for the first time on a 43mm to showcase the B01 movement.

At first glance the dial does look super busy. But there’s a reason why everything is the way it is.  When the Navitimer was launched in the 1950’s it was considered one of the most practical tool watches made available for Pilots. It’s no wonder then that the Navitimer was endorsed as the official timekeeping instrument of the “Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA)”. With only a few minor updates the navitimer has remained unchanged, with Breitling even going on to claim that this is the only wristwatch that has a chronograph function that is in continuous production for more than 50 years.

So what exactly is the features present in the Navitimer dial? Firstly, we have the circular slide rule that rotates around the bezel, which has been taken from Breitling’s first Chronomat watch design (released 1942). The slide rule was used by pilots to make numerous in-flight calculations such as rate/time of climb/descent, distance travelled, fuel consumption, airspeed, flight time and also gallon-litre fuel conversion rate.  

Another nifty feature of the dial is being able to use it as a compass. Depending on which side of the hemisphere you’re on, all you need to do is point the watch at the sun (after removing from your wrist of course!) and find the mid-point between the current hour hand position and 12 O clock position to indicate where north and south would be. When looking at the aesthetics of the dial itself, the hour markers from a certain angle can give off a really nice shine. This is thanks to slightly faded black dial that makes the contrast all that much better.

Outside the hour markers, the outer scale markings that’s printed on the black dial has a nice clean shine effect similar to that of a sunburst dial when rotated under a light. To round things off, the hour markers along with the hour hand and minute hand has luminous strips to make night time readability easier. If you adore the pictures of this watch, you must try one on in person if you haven’t already. You will be pleasantly surprised how well the aesthetics of this watch works even though the dial looks busy.  

The Navitimer’s engine is a BO1 in-house Breitling movement which consists of a column-wheel chronograph. When the Navitimer was first released in 1952. It didn’t start off as an in-house movement, but rather a digital quartz Valjoux 72 movement. The change to keep the movement in-house came in 2009, with Breitling deciding to be more independent in the manufacturing of timepieces on a grander scale. 

With the in-house movement, once the chronograph is triggered the second hand jumping is removed as much as possible through the use of a vertical coupling system. The reset hammers in the Chronograph is built with a patented auto-centering system. This allows the mass production of this in house movement as the requirement to adjust each individual caliber is not needed.

The movement itself is a 47-jewel caliber and has a power reserve of 70 hours.  This is well above average industry standard which is around 42-50 hours. The B01 movement allows the Navitimer to have counters on the 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions. To read the time, main hour and minute hands are used along with the 9 o’clock small seconds counter. The chronograph functions are used with the red centre hand, the 3 o’clock 30-minute counter and the 6 o’clock 12-hour counter.

The previous generation has a closed case back, with the Breitling Logo and Celsius to Fahrenheit temperature conversion table engraved onto it. The Navitimer 1 B01 43mm however removes this to make way for a sapphire crystal case back so that it’s possible to see the beautiful B01 movement in action. 

How does the Breitling Navitimer wear?

As touched on earlier, the  Navitimer 01 is now re branded to the Navitimer 1 B01 43mm with additional features and is offered in two sizes;  the 43mm and 46mm diameters. The thickness of the Navitimer is approximately 14mm. This mean that the Navitimer is suitable for wrist of all sizes. 

Even with the busy dial, you’d be surprised how versatile it is when wearing it on a regular basis. Breitling offer steel bracelet or leather/rubber straps options for the Navitimer at the time of purchasing. Matching it with a black leather strap with white stitching  can work very well to give a classier look in formal and semi-formal occasions. Match it with a rubber strap for full versatile while having a sporty feel. The steel bracelet option can be opted for those who want that little extra “bling”. The reverse panda color contrast ( black dial with white counters) is what makes this watch stand out from a long distance. This watch is so iconic, you’d be able to tell it’s a Navitimer almost straight away.

To see these variations of Navitimer watches in person, there are roughly 22 store locations in Australia. Majority of these stores reside in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, with a Breitling boutique in Sydney. 

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