The World’s Most Famous Pilot’s Watch, 70 Years On

Reimagined in a slimmer silhouette and contemporary colour palette, the Brietling Navitimer is poised to capture a new generation.

Article by Victoria Pearson

01_breitling-s-new-navitimer-b01-chronograph-43_rgb-1The 2022 edition Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43 in Ice Blue, Mint Green, Copper, Black and stainless steel Silver, $12,290 each,

In the early 1940s, as World War II raged across Europe, the Swiss manufacturer Breitling played an integral role in supplying aeroplane cockpit instruments to the Allied forces. It was during this time that the brand developed the Chronomat, an aviation-inspired wristwatch that featured a revolutionary new slide rule, a function that allowed pilots to make all the necessary flight calculations while airborne. 

Not only was the Chronomat an instant success, it became the official timepiece of the international Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). This partnership prompted the birth of the now iconic Breitling Navitimer (the name is an amalgam of “navigation” and “timer”). Embraced by airline captains and aircraft enthusiasts, the Navitimer went on to make its outer space debut in 1962 on the wrist of the American astronaut Scott Carpenter. It was also worn by celebrities of the time including Miles Davis, Serge Gainsbourg and the Formula 1 champions Jim Clark and Graham Hill. 

In early 2022, some 70 years after the release of Breitling’s slide rule calculator, the company unveiled a collection of redesigned Navitimers that seamlessly merge the most recognisable aspects of the original with modern refinements and colours. The circular slide rule, notched bezel, trio of chronograph counters and 12 o’clock placement of the AOPA wing insignia are enough to inspire nostalgia, while the alternating brushed and polished metal elements give the timepieces an understated lustre. A slimmer silhouette houses 70 hours of power reserve, while a choice of sizes (46, 43 or 41 millimetres), colours (including blue, green and copper) and case materials (stainless steel or 18-karat red gold) allows devotees to select a Navitimer journey and aesthetic that is all their own.

This is an extract from an article that appears in print in our tenth edition, Page 104 of T Australia with the headline: “First of its Kind/Last of its Kind”