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Breitling’s legendary timepiece turns 70

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For 70 years, Breitling’s original pilot’s watch has been beloved by aviators and tastemakers in equal measure. Worn by an astronaut in space and the biggest stars on Earth, it is Breitling’s most iconic timepiece.

The brand has unveiled a redesigned collection of the Navitimer that is all about bold colour. “We don’t throw the term ‘icon’ around lightly,” says Georges Kern, CEO of Breitling. “The Navitimer is one of the most recognisable watches ever made. It’s on collectors’ lists of the greatest watches of all time. What began as a tool for pilots has gone on to mean something profound to every single person who has had this timepiece along on their personal journey.” Not even its inventor could have predicted the phenomenon the Navitimer would become.

In 1952, Willy Breitling developed a wrist-worn chronograph with a circular slide rule that would allow pilots to perform all necessary flight calculations. Two years later, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the largest aviators’ club in the world, announced the design as its official timepiece. The association’s winged logo was emblazoned at 12 o’clock, and the “navigation timer”—or Navitimer—was born. To create the new Navitimer, Breitling preserved the most recognisable aspects of the icon’s design code. 

From a distance, this is unmistakably a Navitimer, with its circular slide rule, baton indexes, trio of chronograph counters, and notched bezel for easy grip. Up close, however, its modern refinements come through loud and clear. A flattened slide rule and a domed crystal create the illusion of a more compact profile.

Alternating polished and brushed finishes give the metal elements a lustrous yet understated quality. A slimmer silhouette on the oscillating weight enhances the open-caseback view of the COSC-certified Breitling Manufacture Caliber 01. This movement is backed by a five-year warranty, provides approximately 70 hours of power reserve, and allows the wearer to change the date—now visible through a discreet window in the subdial at 6 o’clock—at any time.

The watch comes in a range of sizes (46, 43, or 41 mm), two case materials (stainless steel or 18-karat red gold), and a choice of straps (semi-shiny alligator or seven-row metal bracelet). Modern colours in shades of blue, green, and copper define its updated dial options. And if there is one feature sure to spark nostalgia, it’s the return of the AOPA wings to their original position at 12 o’clock