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Watch model highlight: Breitling Navitimer - a history

Watch model highlight: Breitling Navitimer - a history

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.

Navitimer ref. 806

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.

Breitling Navitimer 2100 Quartz with LCD screen

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.