I’ve always respected the Breitling Navitimer, but it was never “historically” on my list of “must-own classics” for my own personal collection. Now, after wearing and reviewing one of the newer Breitling Navitimer 01 replica watches, I have to say that my opinion toward the watch has certainly developed for the better, and I certainly think there is a place for a replica Breitling Navitimer in my collection – because once you get to know this collection you begin to understand why it is so popular and why Breitling has been producing what is essentially a piece of archaic computational equipment for more than 50 years. Now, if only it weren’t a solid gold version of the Navitimer that I fell in love with…
A few years ago, we published an article on “The Top 10 Living Legend Replica Watches” that included the Breitling Navitimer because of its good looks and long production (in some form or another). Today, the Breitling Navitimer exists in what is arguably its best forms that also include in-house-made fake Breitling movements. This particular version of the Breitling Navitimer includes the Breitling Calibre 01 – which is their most popular in-house automatic chronograph (as well as being the first in-house movement they released). With that said, Breitling offers a truly dizzying array of Navitimer replica watches, and as such, picking the right one can be truly intimidating.
That means you’ll be forgiven if you’ve been eyeing a Breitling Navitimer for a while but haven’t pulled the trigger yet because you aren’t sure what version. Unfortunately, I am not going to be able to tell you the best Navitimer model for you, but I will help you narrow it down based upon your needs and tastes. The first step is figuring out the size you want, as Breitling replica produces the Navitimer in 42mm, 43mm, 46mm, and 48mm wide cases. From there, you need to figure out whether you want an in-house made movement, or don’t mind a sourced Swiss ETA movement, and what dial as well as case material you are looking for.
There also happens to be a rather wide range of prices that I believe start at around $165 for the Breitling Navitimer World in steel (this model contains the Breitling Caliber 24 which is a base Swiss ETA Valjoux 7750), and of course goes up from there to about $160 for the Navitimer QP (perpetual calendar) in 18k gold on a strap. Interestingly, this 18k gold version of the 43mm-wide Breitling Navitimer 01 on the full gold bracelet costs about $110 less at around $480.
As you can see, Breitling enjoys a lot of sales success with the handsome Navitimer, but your options as a consumer are truly staggering. For me, the best-looking Navitimer replica watches have a “panda dial,” just like this model, which tend to have a black face with contrasting white-colored subdials. This marks a key element of the “Navitimer look” that I think a lot of consumers are looking for. With that said, the Navitimer dial comes in a range of versions including face colors that are black, silver, blue, and brown.
In fact, this is the second review of a Breitling Navitimer 01 replica watch that we’ve published on buyWatchesTop. Here, you can read our Max’s 2012 review of this Breitling Navitimer 01 replica watch in steel which talks a lot about why someone who loves replica watches and is an engineer would really want a Navitimer. My goal isn’t to repeat what Max said but rather to talk about the replica Breitling Navitimer 01 from my own perspective. In gold, the feeling of the watch does change, and I really do think this is one of the few luxury replica watches that you can wear in gold and still come across as practical given that in many ways the Breitling Navitimer is a non-showy luxury watch (that is still a bit showy).
The purpose-driven design of the Breitling Navitimer is really its savior when it comes to not being a pretentious timepiece. Nothing about the design is about flair or presentation and understanding the history of the watch’s utility for pilots allows you to understand why the time plus chronograph and slide-rule bezel came in very hands in a pre-computer age. In the 1950s when the Breitling Navitimer was first introduced, it was a pretty big deal to have a timepiece with a built-in slide-rule calculator bezel.
Today, no one uses this feature (for the most part), but they still show up on fake watches, and no one is producing slide-rule bezels as well as Breitling Replica Watches, with their sense of silky smooth and assured precision turning under your fingers. Being the watch nerds we are, there is an buyWatchesTop article here that explains how to use a slide rule bezel (for most of you who have not ever used one). Slide-rules are one of many such vestigial yet historically functional features you’ll find on mechanical replica watches. A more simple example is something like the tachymeter scale used to measure distances that you will also often find on chronograph sport replica watches. Many of these scales were relied upon in the days of pre-electronic calculation and still show up as design markers on watches today. One could make an argument that such elements are mere accouterments being more or less useless by today’s standards. I would not disagree, but I can report that without them these timepieces don’t have the same feeling to them.
There is a distinct and pronounced romance to having a complete mechanical “tool” on the wrist just as it was meant to be, complete with analog goodness and tactile pleasure. While a hand-operated chronograph mixed with a slide-rule calculator bezel on a wrist watch (not to mention a spring-powered way of tracking the time) offers little precision value in today’s data-obsessed world, the analog versus digital nature of the information display is more akin to how our own brains perceive reality. Thus, replica watches like the Breitling Navitimer, along with many corresponding watches, are not defeated by their lack of modernity and obsolescence because we as people have yet to come up with something better to replace the familiar approachability of a mechanical versus electronic machine.
In my opinion, a collection like the Breitling Navitimer so epitomizes the above ideals that it has remained an important part of the watch design landscape for so long. It really isn’t about the appeal of flight and challenge of being a pilot. It is more about the calculations inherent in being a human being who takes advantage of the natural world above and beyond the limit of our own internal senses thanks to the use of tools.
You might argue that I am going too deep into analyzing the appeal of the Navitimer or mechanical watches in general. Perhaps, my level of analysis is deeper than some, but that otherwise very capable and intelligent people are nevertheless obsessed with well-made, last-generation technology is something which deserves a lot of contemplation (and answers), as far as I am concerned. I’m really dedicated to getting to the bottom of this watch love we share!
At 43mm wide (14.25mm thick and water resistant to 30 meters) in 18k red gold, the fully polished Navitimer case has rarely looked any better. At first, I was concerned that the black, white, and gold colors together (with hints of red) might result in a watch palette with too many colors – but in execution it does not. Despite the obvious dial clutter and mish-mash of fonts, markers, hands, finishes, and tones, the Breitling Navitimer 01 in gold pulls everything off famously. Some of its best moments are really simple in nature such as viewing the contrasting subdials (panda dial) from afar in a mirror (and appreciating how cool they look) as well as enjoying how the light plays with the hands and applied hour markers on the dial through the domed AR-coated sapphire crystal.
This “modest size” for a Breitling Navitimer is going to work well for most people as the proportions are just right. Make the Navitimer larger, as in the Breitling Navitimer 01 46mm, and things still look good but only if you have a very large-sized wrist to support the additional size. This isn’t the type of watch you need to inherently “wear large” for it to look good. You already have the benefit of a rather thin bezel which maximizes the visible dial size.
Legibility is better than you’d expect given the dial complexity. Little touches such as the recessed subsidiary dials and general use of matte surfaces (outside of the hands and hour markers) allow the Navitimer to retain a very functional look. Breitling is of course rather proud of the applied 18k red gold “B with wings” logo under 12 o’clock. I also like how the date does not interfere with any of the indicators.
Given the primarily functional essence of the Navitimer, it does not ever come across as a “blingy” watch despite attention-grabbing features such as an entirely polished case and, in this instance, being rendered in 18k red gold. Steel and gold Navitimer wearers can get along and be seen together with more or less the same wrist presence. The gold version just says “at heart I am a tool watch guy, but I had enough money to treat myself to a gold replica watch, so I did.” Nothing about this type of timepiece feels like it is meant to show off, being an item chosen for very personal reasons – which is another reason why I think Breitling continues to find success in the Navitimer collection.
The Breitling in-house Caliber 01 movement is a very reliable and capable automatic chronograph that serves as a nice upgrade over the Valjoux 7750 available in the base model of the Navitimer World. With its classic symmetrical “tri-compax” register chronograph layout, the 01 movement offers a full 12-hour chronograph along with the time and date with a 70-hour maximum power reserve operating at a frequency of 4Hz (28,800bph). It is actually quite a good-looking movement, and unfortunately, this version of the Breitling Navitimer 01 does not have an exhibition caseback. I have seen some other models of the Navitimer with in-house movements that do have sapphire crystal caseback windows, but this isn’t one of them.
My original fears about enjoying a Breitling Navitimer were based on the fact that I worried I might find the slide-rule distracting and not useful, and also that I might not find the dial legible enough. I am happy to say that after a fair amount of wear, I don’t consider either of these issues to take away from my core appreciation of the brand. While I can’t say that I’ve taken the time to use the slide-rule, I do love turning the smooth bezel, and the dial legibility (as well as luminant) have been surprisingly good. I also happen to find the gold print on the black dial to be sort of cool on this 18k red gold model.
If you can afford a gold Breitling Navitimer, then it might be worth your while to get one if the above review appealed to you. Otherwise, a steel version will work very well, and with Breitling’s in-house movement, you get something with a lot of historical value from the brand in a modern package that is still very much a totally “Breitling product.” It isn’t for everyone, but the Breitling Navitimer 01 is a well-made and handsome, masculine timepiece that comes with all the horolgoical and historic appeal you could ask for in a recognizable timepiece that is still also sexy and cool. The Breitling Navitimer 01 ref. RB012012|BA49|435X|R20BA.1 in 18k red gold is priced at $208.