Breitling Navitimer 8: Eight Things To KnowWritten by Alvin Wong
Change is in the air for Breitling.
Breitling Navitimer 8 B01
IT IS NOT REPLACING THE ORIGINAL NAVITIMER
Introduced in 1952, the Navitimer of the past (by that, we mean up until the new Navitimer 8) was a collection of chronographs. With the introduction of the Navitimer 8, the original range has been renamed Navitimer 1.
BUT IT IS A SIGNIFICANT DEPARTURE FROM THE FIRST NAVITIMERS
For starters, the most defining feature of the Navitimer 1, the circular slide rule that allow pilots to make all types of calculations pertaining to airborne navigation, is dispensed of in the Navitimer 8. Another small but significant change is in the logo. The ones on the Navitimer 8 show a stylised ‘B’ with the Breitling name, a much more stripped down affair compared to the old versions with the winged logo atop the brand and collection names.
Breitling's first Navitimer from 1952
BUT THAT IS NOT A BAD THING
Before you get all riled up, though, the new Navitimer 8 collection offers a whole lot more that what we’ve come to expect from the old guard. The watches exude nostalgic allure, anchored by aesthetic accents that reference Huit Aviation Department’s onboard clocks, as well as Breitling’s own vintage pilot’s watch, the Reference 768 (below).
Breitling Reference 768
HERE’S HOW TO SPOT A NAVITIMER 8
You’d be able to recognise a Navitimer 8 watch by its knurled unidirectional bezel (less pronounced than the Navitimer 1’s), triangle minute markers that dot the dial, throwback fonts on the hour numerals and contrast polished and matte finishes on the case and bracelets. The watches have got that that friendly, vintage-y appeal - perfectly in sync with the current market’s appetite for timepieces with throwback designs.
Breitling Navitimer 8 Automatic
THERE ARE FIVE MODELS TO CHOOSE FROM
Besides old-school cool, the Navitimer 8 collection offers variety. There are five models to choose from, spanning the price and technical spectrums. Starting from stainless steel three-hand automatic, and day-date models, the line moves up the ladder with an automatic chronograph, a world-timer, and an in-house chronograph.
Breitling Navitimer 8 Day Date
GET THE AUTOMATIC CHRONOGRAPH
Folks who know something about watch collecting will nudge you towards the higher-end pieces – the Navitimer 8 B01 driven by a proprietary automatic chronograph movement with column wheel, which Breitling introduced in 2009; and the Navitimer 8 Unitime, also with an in-house movement, the automatic Calibre B35 with world-time functionality. For us, however, the Navitimer 8 Chronograph, powered by an Valjoux 7750-based automatic chronograph movement, is a good alternative if you are a conservative spender but still want to be in the game. This model will satiate all your desires – the watch allows you to be among the first to own a next-gen Breitling, while still offering the full suite of technical and design qualities of the revamped collection.
Breitling Navitimer 8 Chronograph
THE DEAL WITH THE NUMBER ‘8’
Although many would consider that to be Breitling’s not-to-subtle obvious wink at the Chinese market (the number sounds phonetically like the world ‘luck’ in Mandarin), the Navitimer 8’s moniker has roots in aviation history. The story is that the collection was inspired by Huit Aviation Department, a company Willy Breitling set up to manufacture airplane cockpit instruments. Navitimer 8 was named so because 1) ‘Huit’ is French for ‘eight’; 2) the company was founded in 1938; and 3) the cockpit instruments that Huit Aviation Department supplied were known for their eight-day power reserve.
IT SIGNALS A NEW ERA FOR BREITLING
The brand has a new chief pilot in Georges Kern, who left his post as the Richemont Group’s head of marketing in July 2017 to head Breitling as its new CEO, where he now holds a minor stake.
Kern has a reputation for being a visionary and a clinical businessman, who steered IWC Schaffhausen to huge commercial success during his time at Richemont. Given his track record, watch buffs and industry folks are now watching Breitling keenly, wondering if Kern can replicate his success – and the Navitimer 8 is a signpost of things to come.
Alvin promises not to be a douche when talking about watches. He may have scoured the Basel and Geneva watch fairs for the past 15 years, and played an instrumental role to the growth of Singapore's pioneering horological and men's lifestyle publications, but the intrepid scribe seeks to learn something new with each story he writes.