Back with another Breitling replica on my side, and I feel I need to make amends since the last time out with the Top Time Bow-Tie. That watch lost out to the Zenith A385. I also took my personal Frecce Tricolori into war against the Tudor Black Bay Chrono S&G and still came out second best. Now I have to dig deep to big up the quintessential Breitling in the catalog. Luckily, I feel I have the backing of many aviation enthusiasts for the Navitimer.
Those veterans of the sky may also recall using a slide rule as a calculation tool to track various measurements. It’s well-known and quite prominent that the bezel of the Navitimer features this same bi-directionally rotating slide rule scale. But I’m not here to bore you with all the multiplication, division, and conversion capabilities this allows. Instead, I want to divulge an aspect of having this rotatable element that is often overlooked.
Thirty-meter water resistance
There is a repeating knock against the Omega Speedmaster that it can only achieve a fifty-meter depth rating. Potentially, it’s the comparison to other competing chronographs with the same seminal status that reach greater depths that draws the ire. Whatever the reason may be, the Speedmaster only guarantees 50 meters, and to me, it’s never been of much concern. Now, the reason I bring up a rival classic chronograph from another brand is for good reason. The Swiss-made copy Breitling Navitimer can, theoretically, only withstand 30 meters of water resistance.
30 meters is still deeper than most venture, even on a particularly thrill-seeking dive-vacation. But to the eagle-eye spec-sheet warriors that dutifully compare the merits and demerits of each watch, this resistance is not enough. In my view, I find it incredible that high quality replica Breitling can prevent water ingress at all with the Navitimer. You see, unless you’ve gone hands-on with a Navitimer, there’s a quirk that is not obvious from photos. When you turn the bezel, you are not just turning the outer knurling; you are turning the whole crystal as well. It’s an engineering feat that the Navitimer bezel turns freely yet retains a tight enough seal to ensure water tightness to a degree. The Naked Watchmaker undertook a fascinating deconstruction where you can see the bezel’s components and how it forms a unit with the crystal.
Breitling does not give you wings
Some of you may notice that the Navitimer generation that I am repping is not the current one. In fact, the one I am taking onward into battle is the pre-2018 Navitimer. The obvious giveaway is the presence of wings on the dial of this particular Navitimer. For me, I wouldn’t have it any other way. But for some reason, luxury copy Breitling elected to replace the wing logo that represents air (wings), land (B logo), and sea (anchor symbol) with a simple “B” logo. I wish I knew the reason, but still, I cannot fathom the reason to opt for this less appropriate “B” logo for its most famous aviator’s watch.
I don’t have a problem with the “B” logo, not at all, and I think it pairs perfectly with some of the more vintage-inspired pieces like the new Premier range. But classic wings encapsulate all that the Navitimer represents. While the logo is not the same as the original AOPA wings, its structure indeed pays a respectful nod to pilots. And it’s not like the badge has completely gone away, as it can be seen on new references, including the Endurance Pro, and weirdly, the SuperOcean dive watch. It makes no sense to me, and I hope Breitling brings back the wings for future Navitimers.
The roguish charm of the Navitimer
What I sacrifice by selecting this older version, is that the 43mm case has a solid steel case-back. At the time, only the 46mm case had the exhibition window to view the B01 movement. Since 2018, both the 43mm and 46mm standard B01 Breitling Navitimers replica with steel cases now have the sapphire crystal on the back. This may lose me a few votes against Jorg’s IWC and its transparent case-back. But it’s a sacrifice that may pay dividends by having the gorgeous, embossed gold emblem on the dial. On the subject of the IWC that Jorg is peddling, I looked very closely at the watch but struggled to locate any unique identifiers. Honestly, slap any brand name on there, and it probably wouldn’t look out of place.
Ben: Ooh, burn! I liken the IWC Pilot’s Chronograph to a pilot simply carrying out a responsible transit in good order. Everything you would want from modern aviation. In contrast, the Navitimer retains the golden age of travel with glamour. I expect the Navitimer to find its way on the wrist of a roguish pilot still chartering cargo in illegal airspace with a flight jacket and charm in spades. To me, it’s down to the rugged design flourishes that illicit this image of a gruff, tough aviator. The Navitimer has even found its way on the wrist of exciting personalities such as Miles Davis and Graham Hill.