Breitling was founded in 1884 and launched the Navitimer in 1952.
The wristwatch was marketed as a flight tool capable of assisting the pilot making calculations for a flight plan.
A slide rule type device was incorporated around the perimeter of the dial. This provided a useful aid to the pilot when multiplying or dividing numbers.
The ability to process data using this simple integrated device was handy when determining fuel consumption, rates of ascent, descent, average speed or converting distances.
The slide rule could even be used to calculate exchange rates when the pilot reached his destination and wanted to know whether dinner represented good value.
The pilot could also be confident in the reliability of the Navitimer as it was manufactured by the same company who supplied the clocks fitted to the cockpit he inhabited each working day.
Whilst small modifications have been made over the years, it has changed very little with current models being aesthetically faithful to the original.
Background to my purchase
I purchased the watch pictured from an authorised Breitling retailer in 2009 in North West England.
The recommended retail price at the time was £3720 including VAT.
I remember vividly that after an extended period of deliberation, I suddenly became aware of a looming price increase scheduled for the 1st June 2009. I marched hurriedly into a local retailer on the 29th May 2009 to capture my Navitimer before the retail price had a “4” immediately following the pound symbol.
The Navitimer World was introduced in the 2005 and pays homage to the architecture of the original 1952 Navitimer, but with a larger case (46mm) and an additional GMT complication.
The case is highly polished stainless steel with a narrow, fluted bezel. The bezel moves in both directions and adjusts the mobile outer scale of the slide rule, beneath the glareproof sapphire crystal.
The chronograph buttons are positioned at the usual locations of 2 o’ clock and 4 o’clock.
The crown, branded with the iconic “B” is not screw locked. However, most pilots will not intend to wear the watch in very deep water!
On the reverse of the case is a comprehensive list of worldwide locations with the relative difference to Greenwich Mean Time to aid the pilot when adjusting the GMT hand.
The case back proudly proclaims “CHRONOGRAPHE CERTIFIE CHRONOMETRE TESTE 3 BARS”. The testing by COSC appraises the accuracy of the watch in different positions, at different temperatures and under water. The watch is supplied with a COSC certificate.
The watch incorporates the “Breitling 24” Calibre.
The calibre oscillates at 4 Hertz (28,800 vph) and incorporates 25 jewels.
The dial is black with black subdials which is different from some of the Navitimer models which feature contrasting subdials.
I adore the contrast of the black dial with the white outer scale of the adjustable slide rule; the splash of red on the tips of the GMT and second hands reminds me of its country of origin.
The amount of information on the dial at first glance may seem bewildering, but a short acquaintance soon leads to familiarity and the convenience of the functions readily becomes invaluable.
The GMT hand has become useful on foreign trips during my ownership where the time of the current time zone at my destination is shown in contrast to the time back home, preventing any unwanted phone calls to my wife when she is asleep.
The leather strap is fitted with a stainless steel pin buckle, branded with the Breitling wings.
The dark brown strap of my watch with contrasting white stitching complements the dial wonderfully and provides a warmth sometimes lacking in metal bracelets.
My driving skills have often been called into question by my wife as my concentration wanes. Therefore, I am under no misapprehension that my poor co-ordination and lack of instinctive feel for mechanical controls should mean that my own handling skills are limited to driving down nearby roads.
Whilst I will never pilot a transatlantic jet and leave terra firma with a wispy signature from my engines dappling the blue sky, I can at least join many flight professionals in wearing a Breitling Navitimer.