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Articles in category Breitling - Timepiece Bank Blog

Breitling Navitimer - a history

Breitling Navitimer

One of Breitling’s most iconic models, the Navitimer, proves to remain a favorite not only with pilots. Since its introduction in 1952, the Navitimer has turned in to a multifunctional and popular model.

The Navitimer, designed to be used by pilots, is an evolution of the Breitling Chronomat. The first Navitimer, ref. 806, became the official watch of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). It was also used for a long period of time by the US Air Force. By the use of clever marketing, Breitling was able to attract lots of pilots. This dramatically increased the demand for navigation chronographs. Also, Breitling was the official supplier of board instruments for all the big aircraft companies.This rich history formed the bases of Breitling: aviation.

The first Navitimer came equipped with a Venus caliber 178. This chronograph movement in combination with the slide rule bezel, made it possible for the pilot to calculate average speed, gas consumption, rate of climb, rate of descent, ground speed, miles per minute,…
All vital information for the pilot during his flight. Late 1960’s, Breitling started to use the automatic caliber Valjoux 7740. This movement was widely used in watches from that time because to movement was easily adaptable to implement popular complications like a date, day and moon phase.

In the 70’s, the quartz crisis hit Switzerland. Breitling tried to react by making a Navitimer with LCD screen but unfortunately it couldn’t help the drastic decrease in sales. In 1978, Breitling got sold to Ernest Schneider. Ernest, a pilot himself, moved the company to Grenchen where it began its new life in 1982. As interest in mechanical watches picked up after the quartz crisis, Breitling grew to become one of the most well known watch manufacturers in the world. The next step for the company was to reduce using watch movements supplied by other manufacturers and to start to start manufacturing their own caliber. So in 2009, the Breitling caliber 01 saw the light of day. This chronometer certified movement with a column-wheel chronograph and date function is still used today.

The Breitling Navitimer

The Breitling Navitimer
Breitling is a watch brand dedicated to pilots. The Breitling Navitimer is probably their most iconic model ever made. This epic aviator watch has a chronograph with an integrated flight computer. As Breitling made this model for pilots it is even used as official equipment by many Air Forces. This little piece of technical art is also worn by famous actor John Travolta as he owns a Boeing 707 and a Bombardier Challenger 601.

The Breitling Navitimer

The birth of the Navitimer
The Navitimer is a perfect evolution of the Chronomat which was produced for the first time in 1942. The Chronomat had a typical slide rule bezel and it was optimized so they could use it in the Navitimer. This world-famous bezel  is used for what it’s made for, calculating complicated operations without the use of any other tool. Because of this sophisticated bezel, pilots could make calculations when planning a flight like airspeed, rate/time of climb/descent, flight time, distance and fuel consumption.

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Aviation History
In 1884, Léon Breitling opened his workshop in St. Imier in the Jura Mountains. He specialized in integrated chronographs from the very beginning. His business strategy was a consistent focus on instrument watches with striking design. High quality standards and the rise of aviation perfected the image. Today, Breitling's relationship with air sports, commercial aviation and military aviation has an extreme important place in the brand's identity. The company holds a series of aviation days, has its own team of stunt flyers and sponsors various aviation associations. The revelations of its own modern chronograph in Basel 2009, was an important milestone in the company's history. The new design had to be '100 percent Breitling' and manufactured industrially in large numbers at reasonable cost. Although Breitling's production facilities in Grenchen and La Chaux-de-Fonds were both equipped with the latest manufacturing technologies, the contract for the new chronograph was abstracted by a small team in Geneva.


Breitling Calibers
By 2006, the brand’s new caliber B01 passed the tests of the COSC with flying colors, after which it began its victory march. One of the greatest achievements of the team of designers was the innovative centering system on the reset mechanism, which requires no manual adjustment. Since then, the caliber produced by Breitling itself has been further developed. There is now the B04 with a second time zone, the B05 with world time and the B06 with a 30 second chronograph indication for the Breitling for Bentley series. Also, the year 1915 was important for the brand and for watchmaker art in general: Breitling unveiled a wristchronograph with a separate push button at 2 hours instead of integrating it in the crown. The Transocean Chronograph 1915 was just in time for a centenary. It comes in a limited edition, equipped with a manual-worn chronograph caliber B14.

Breitling Navitimer - A True Icon in the History of Breitling

The Breitling ‘Navitimer’ is the most legendary model among the aviator watches. It’s the combination of ‘navigation’ and ‘timer’ – and the evolution of the 1942 ‘Chronomat’.

Breitling Navitimer

Breitling decided to improve the ‘Chronomat’-bezel and so the ‘Navitimer’ was born. Already 65 years old, this watch is still one of the best selling watches of all Breitling models. This piece of mechanical art has a chronograph with an integrated flight computer and that’s why it became popular among the pilots. Many Air Forces use this Breitling model as a regular equipment because of it’s ability to make calculations for the flight plan.

The watch has a scale with the 3 most important units for pilots:

  • ‘STAT’ for standard mileage 
  • KM for kilometres 
  • NAUT for nautical miles 

This allows the pilots to calculate fuel consumption, average speeds or climbing speeds. The ‘Navitimer’ has even famous wearers like John Travolta. As a veteran pilot, owning two planes including a Boeing 707, he definitely needed a Navitimer.