Before this year’s Baselworld, Breitling announced the release of a new model in their partially redesigned collection. They did this to add more variety to their watch models. It is also a part of their vision for the brand’s future, much of which was communicated via their new releases leading up to Baselworld 2018. One such release is the new Navitimer 8.
The Standard Navitimer vs. the New Navitimer 8
When you look the history of Breitling, you will undoubtedly recognize the importance of the Navitimer’s design. It began with the first Navitimer chronograph models in the 1950’s. Over the years, these have slowly evolved to include some variations in the dial layout as well as some digital editions.
One of the hallmarks of the Navitimer 1 is its slide rule. Apart from just a few models, the Navitimer has always had this feature. Although few people probably actually use it, it is one of the watch’s most distinctive traits. Basically, a slide rule is a tool that allows you to make several calculations. For instance, not only can it be used to multiply and divide, it can also calculate speed, descent or climb rates, and much more. This is all the information a pilot could need, and they can have it all on their wrist.
The new Navitimer 8 isn’t replacing the classic version; instead, it is extending the existing range of models. At the same time, it manages to pay tribute to the original design. Breitling also took inspiration from their history when deciding on a name. Willy Breitling established the ‘Huit Aviation Department’ back in 1938. It made instruments for professional aviators. ‘Huit’ is French for ‘eight’ and refers to the 8-day power reserve of the department’s dashboard clocks and instruments.
Collector’s item or luxury timepiece?
The design of the new Navitimer 8 goes back to basics. While it’s kept the rotating bezel, it has lost the Navitimer’s characteristic slide rule. This is quite important to watch collectors, although this new model is probably targetted at a different audience. Compared to the Navitimer 8, the original Navitimer can almost look too busy and cluttered, narrowing down its potential audience. Yet it also gives it a distinctive and unmistakable look.
The new model has elicited a lot of reactions, both positive and negative. While watch collectors like to see designs left as untouched as possible, luxury buyers tend to care less about a feature they wouldn’t have used anyway. Your average buyer just wants a watch that looks good and comes from a respectable brand. Different people will always have different reasons for buying a watch. At the end of the day, the fact is that the new design has lost a very distinctive feature. Whether or not you use the slide rule, many buyers are still attracted to it. Owning several chronographs and divers myself, I hardly use their functionality, but without certain features, I would never have bought them.
Third Party vs. In-House Calibers
The most affordable models within the Navitimer collection come with movements based on ETA calibers. You can recognize these chronographs by their subdial layout with the date at 3 o’clock. In addition, they lack the ‘B01’ in their model name. Most Navitimer chronographs, however, come with Breitling’s own chronograph movement. Fun fact: Tudor uses a similar movement in their Heritage Chronograph. Breitling and Tudor made a deal allowing Tudor to use a Breitling chronograph movement. In return, Breitling gained access to a modified version of the three-hand Tudor MT5612 chronograph caliber.
Apart from the chronographs found in the Navitimer 1 and Navitimer 8 series, both collections feature models that only display the time and date. There are also several day-date models, which are unique to the Navitimer 8 collection. Day and date displays can be found of more basic Navitimer 8 models as well as select chronographs. Finally, the collection is rounded off by a world timer (“Unitime”) that resembles the original design at first glance.