Breitling Navitimer

If you’re at all familiar with Breitling, you’ll no doubt recognize the name Navitimer. It’s been a staple of the brand since 1952, through shifts in ownership and management in the 90’s, and played a vital role in marketing the brand’s first in-house chronograph movement in 2009. Now more than ever, the Navitimer preserves the ethos of Breitling as it changes hands once more, and prepares to receive new leadership in the form of Georges Kern (who left a lofty position at the Richemont group for the gig). How did the Navitimer find itself in such a position? Let’s take a closer look.

Before there was the Navitimer, there was the Chronomat. In 1940 Breitling applied for a patent on a rotating slide rule bezel, a feature that came to life in the following years on the Chronomat. The slide rule was marketed towards scientists, engineers and mathematicians, allowing them to perform calculations on the fly. Keep in mind, this was well before small calculators were commonplace. The slide rule eventually found favor with pilots, providing them quick access to conversions for speed and distance. If you’re wondering what the hell a slide rule is, check out this article by our friends at A Blog to Watch.

An original Navitimer with the AOPA insignia at 12 o’clock.

Fast forward to 1952 and the Chronomat had given way to the Navitimer, and this time it was targeted squarely at Pilots. The first watch even featured the AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) insignia at 12 o’clock on the dial. The Navitimer quickly differentiated itself with a distinctive look thanks to the complexity of the slide rule, the notched bezel edge, and the three sub dials nestled neatly at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock. It’s a look that remains instantly recognizable to this day.

The Navitimer was sold in a variety of sizes, metals, and color configurations through the years. It was even offered with a variant of the famous caliber 11, a movement co-developed by Breitling and Heuer. However, it wasn’t until 2009 that the watch gained a true in-house movement developed by Breitling. The movement, dubbed B-01, is a fully integrated, column wheel affair with the added bonus of being chronometer certified. Creating such a movement is a tall order for any manufacturer, even more so for the independent and (at the time) family owned Breitling.

Today the Navitimer lives on as a foundational piece of the evolving Breitling brand. While it’s offered in a variety of flavors across 8 models, the Navitimer DNA is clear and well represented within each. We may not be entirely sure of what the future holds for Breitling, but one things for certain, the Navitimer will play its role.

Shop our collection of Navitimer models right here, and our entire selection of Breitling watches right here.