The Navitimer is one of the few watches that can really claim to be iconic. It even boasts a surprising link between an astronaut (Scott Carpenter), a French singer (Serge Gainsbourg), an American actor (John Travolta) and a French President (Nicolas Sarkozy). But the history of the model is quite chaotic. Launched in the 1950’s as an evolution of the Chronomat, it was at that time one of the largest and most practical tool watches made for use inside a plane’s cockpit.
In 1884, the 24-years-old Leon Breitling replica watches, who was already a trained watchmaker, arrived in Saint-Imier to create his first chronograph. That identical year is also considered as the official founding year of Breitling. In 1892 the young company moved to La Chaux-de-Fonds and produced chronograph pocket watches under the name “G. Leon Breitling SA Montbrillant Watch Factory”. Naval aviators will appreciate the traditional anchor at the bottom of the red central seconds hand, and all pilots or pilots at heart will admire the exclusive shade of blue, recalling high altitude flight.
The first chronograph with pusher (usually, start and reset of the chronograph was made through the crown) was introduced by Breitling in 1923. Over a decade later, Willy Breitling, the successor of Leon, came with an idea that is the norm for decades now, the two pushers chronograph – one to start and pause the chronograph and one to reset timing. This on-the-wrist computer (remember that the pilots in the 40s were working only with digital tools) allowed pilots to calculate fuel consumption, average speeds or climbing speeds.
However, Willy wanted to go further in the idea of a calculation tool and asked the mathematician Marcel Robert to create a slide rule bezel that could perform complex logarithmic calculations. A scale with the 3 most significant units for pilots was innovated by him: STAT for standard mileage, KM for kilometres and NAUT for nautical miles.
Further, 1952 is a very special year. In this year, the very first Navitimer adorned the “Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association” (AOPA) emblem on its dial (the typical double-wing logo) and by 1960, a real cooperation with the AOPA began. The “Navitimer” name is the contraction of “navigation” and “timer”. The initial edition to be sold was the reference 806, powered by a manual chronograph movement with column wheel mechanism, the Venus 178. These early specimens are now highly collectible, and relying on the situation and the edition (AOPA or not, gold filled or stainless steel, full black or reverse panda dial), they can reach between 2.000Eur and 10.000Eur. One special feature for the year 1954: the 806 were equipped with a Valjoux 72 (the identical movement as the classical Rolex Daytona) and therefore, are among the most collectible ones.
You may thing that the late 1970s sounded like an end for Breitling. Willy Breitling had no other choices than to close the company and to sell it. In 1978, Ernest Schneider ought Breitling and moved it to Grenchen, where the new life of the brand began in 1982, since he is a avid pilot and holder of Sicurab, a manufacture of cheap watches.
Something curious happened during those dark times. It was indeed possible to buy new Navitimers without the Breitling logo. Nevertheless, all the parts were signed with Breitling – case, caseback and movement. Only the dial was adorned with “Sinn”. The reason: Helmut Sinn, a German manufacture (that still innovates a watch highly inspired by the Navitimer) bought nearly the entire stock of spare parts when Breitling replica was sold.
In Breitling’s history, 2016 is an significant year. As a matter of fact, it may be the year of the consecration and the end of all the previous misadventures. Indeed, the brand came with its main development for years, a fully in-house movement, the Breitling 01. In 2016, Breitling Fake reissues its most iconic watch, the Navitimer. It features now a in-house movement, exclusive to Breitling, with a 3-sub-dials configuration (3-6-9), with a column-wheel and vertical clutch system and 70 hours of power reserve – a movement that can be seen from the back of the watch.
As always with Breitling, you will have an extensive choice of straps. A great watch in a big case, that is surprisingly comfortable on the wrist, even if it is far away from the classical Breitling codes.