There is a tremendous effort underway at Breitling these days. For so many years, the brand has been living and breathing aviation. What few collections away from aviation there was, became events unto themselves! But with Breitling now having changed ownership (a story for another day) and a new CEO in Georges Kern (formerly of IWC), the Swiss brand known for its accuracy is now headed in a very different direction. You still get the ‘instrument’ feel and of course the COSC level chronographs are there but for once, aviation is not the be all and end all.
Take for instance the new 2018 signature piece – the Navitimer 8. This is a piece that is as Breitling as it gets. “With the Navitimer 8,” he says, “we are honouring not only our rich heritage but also our pioneering role in building chronographic instruments. But while the Navitimer 8 pays tribute to our past, it also does something considerably more important. It opens the door to a very exciting future,” said Kern. And indeed, the collection is ambitious to say the least. Think of it this way, it’s an aviation inspired timepiece but it has been designed to appeal to a broader market.
And why not? Pilots will continue to wear Breitling; the association with aviation is alive and strong. But for the rest of us, the accuracy and romance of an aviation piece by Breitling is a possibility without the danger of being a wannabe. And therein lies the balancing act for the Navitimer 8 and why you get a goodly number of versions. It absolutely can and will appeal to anybody who wants a handsome watch on the wrist. I daresay that even ladies who want to exude power will consider this collection.
So let's have a brief look at the Navitimer 8 collection. Altogether, there five new editions - Navitimer 8 B01, Navitimer 8 Unitime, Navitimer 8 Chronograph, Navitimer 8 Day & Date and Navitimer 8 Automatic.
Navitimer 8 B01
The Navitimer 8 B01 is powered by the in-house Breitling Manufacture Caliber 01. The self-winding, 43mm watch has a ratchet-wheel chronograph with vertical coupling and a power reserve of more than 70 hours.
Navitimer 8 Unitime
The Navitimer 8 Unitime was designed with international travellers in mind. The automatic wristwatch offers world-time indication through an ingenious independent hour hand that can be adjusted with the crown. At the heart of the COSC-certified chronometer is the Breitling Manufacture Caliber B35, a self-winding movement, which, with its bi-directional ball-bearing rotor and two spring barrels, delivers a power reserve of more than 70 hours.
Navitimer 8 Chronograph
The Navitimer 8 Chronograph offers 30-minute and 12- hour counters at 12 and 6 o’clock, respectively, along with a small seconds hand at 9 o’clock. It is accurate to a quarter of a second. The COSC-certified Breitling Caliber 13 chronometer movement is at the heart of this watch.
Navitimer 8 Day & Date
The Navitimer 8 Day & Date prominently displays the day of the week and the date along with the time. The day of the week is indicated at the 12 o’clock position while the date is ideally placed at 6 o’clock. The automatic wristwatch is powered by the Breitling Caliber 45, whose bidirectional rotor winding offers over 40 hours of power reserve.
Navitimer 8 Automatic
The Navitimer 8 Automatic makes a style statement. It is clearly a direct descendent of Breitling’s legendary watches from the 1930s and 1940s. Inside the stainless-steel case with its rotating bezel and pointer is the Breitling Caliber 17, which, with its bidirectional rotor winder, delivers more than 40 hours of power reserve.
From then to now
Just in case you were wondering about the legacy Breitling and I keep going on about, here is a glance. The advertisement you see above is from the 1940s after World War II. Back then, the Huit Aviation Department of Breitling were among the best instrument makers for planes. So rather than wrist watches, this part of Breitling made the actual instruments that the pilots used to navigate and fly the plane. Hence, the Navitimer 8 gets the cockpit treatement without being too ostenatious. So again, its a balancing act and something new from Breitling .