Some watches have come to define their parent brands, but non have done so as strongly as the Breitling Navitimer. The big-boy chronograph has survived in the Breitling catalog for several decades and is one of the most important watches the company makes. Today, we’re looking at why it’s special and how it has evolved over the years.
One of the biggest differences in design between Breitling and other brands like Rolex and Omega is that many Breitling watches carry a bling factor that the other two don’t or won’t. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, and for many it’s a selling point, but it’s important to remember that even the most utilitarian Breitling models can be quite flashy in some configurations.
All of that said, the Navitimer keeps the levels of bling to a manageable minimum, which lets it stand out without overpowering everything else in the room. We’ll talk about the 43mm version here, but the larger 46mm Navitimer carries the same basic design features. The majority of the case is polished to a mirror finish, with only the bezel’s beveled edge being brushed in places. The look is certainly dramatic, but the watch is able to pull it off without being gaudy. At 14.2mm thick, the Navitimer isn’t the thinnest watch and is certainly heftier than a traditional dress watch, but it’s compact enough to fit under a jacket cuff and looks great in more formal office environments.
The biggest downfall of the case, and maybe the watch as a whole, is the water resistance level. At 3 bar, the Navitimer is capable of withstanding minor splashes, such as from a rain storm or while washing hands, but it’s not able to stand up to swimming or being submerged in any way. You won’t be able to take a shower with this watch or wear it to the beach, but that’s not a reason to pass it by. The Navitimer, like the Omega Speedmaster, is only really “weak” in the water resistance department, but shouldn’t be underestimated in any other way.
Breitling’s 01 movement has been around for several years now, but it’s advanced enough to remain interesting today. It’s also beautiful, and the ability to see the chronograph pushers doing their job underneath the transparent caseback is a big bonus with this watch. The 01 features a 70-hour power reserve, 47 jewels, and 28,800 vibrations per hour. The in-house movement also dictates the Navitimer’s dial design, as only models with a panda-style dial carry it. If you’re seeing a Navitimer that isn’t a special edition with sub-registers that are the same color as the surrounding dial, it’s not powered by an 01 movement.
The Breitling Navitimer is also one of the most strap-change-friendly watches on the planet. It looks just as amazing on a leather strap as it does on Breitling’s instantly recognizable bracelet, though a strap gives the watch a much more casual look. The bracelet, in all polished stainless steel, is about as flashy as it gets for the Navitimer, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it as a companion to the watch.
Each of the Breitling Navitimer’s dial colors plays with light in a different way, making them an interesting choice that will continue to catch your eye for years to come. That, combined with the excellent in-house movement and five-year warranty, means that the Breitling is every bit as advanced and reliable as anything from Omega or Rolex. Take a look at your next watch here by checking out our Navitimer selection.