Time flies
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Time flies

Breitling marks its 140th anniversary with a new series of Navitimers

Red gold versions of the Navitimer Automatic GMT 41.
Red gold versions of the Navitimer Automatic GMT 41.

Throughout 2024, Breitling traces milestones along with releasing new watches to mark its 140th anniversary.

Its innovative DNA is embodied in the theme "140 Years Of Firsts". For example, the Navitimer born in 1952 was touted the world's first wrist-worn flight computer.

The company, founded by Léon Breitling in 1884, boasts a rich heritage in chronographs, which was taken to new heights in the 1930s.

Third-generation Willy Breitling set up Huit Aviation in 1938 to develop indispensable flight instruments, whose eight-day power reserve was reflected in the name of the department.

In the following year, the British Air Ministry placed a large order of onboard chronographs for the Royal Air Force. Other armed forces followed suit and Breitling became one of the world's best-known suppliers to the aviation industry.

The 1950s saw the transfer of its chronographs from the cockpit to the wrist.

In the previous decade, the Chronographe-Mathematique, or Chronomat, earned the Swiss brand a reputation for tool watches.

Navitimer Automatic GMT 41 with an ice-blue dial.

Patented in 1940, a circular logarithmic slide rule was applied to a chronograph for the Chronomat, allowing a wide range of mathematical operations with tachymeter, telemeter and pulsometer functions.

Breitling adapted the innovation to the Navitimer (a combination of navigation and timer) to calculate average speed, distance travelled, fuel consumption, rate of climb or descent and convert miles to kilometres or nautical miles.

The computational slide rule was integrated into a rotating bezel, capped with small beads for easy manipulation even with a pilot's gloved hands.

The Navitimer's diameter of 41mm -- considered large at the time of its launch -- ensured the readability of all the information on the dial.

The original was created exclusively for members of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. The success of the pilot's watch led to adding the Breitling brand name and logo to the dial and making it available to the open market around 1956.

The legacy extended to space exploration in 1962, when Scott Carpenter asked Breitling to modify the Navitimer with a 24-hour dial to distinguish day from night in orbit.

The resulting model, later dubbed the Cosmonaute, accompanied the Mercury Seven astronaut on his mission on May 24 to become the first Swiss wristwatch in space.

New Navitimer Automatic 41 collection.

When the Navitimer turned 70 in 2022, Breitling introduced a redesign of the chronograph. The update continues with pared-down automatic three-hand and GMT models, launched this year as a part of the company's 140th anniversary celebrations.

The central placement of the 24-hour scale on the dial of the GMT and the clean face of the three-hand version ensure that the intricate slide rule stands out while streamlining the overall aesthetics.

Variations differ with a black, blue, silver, ice blue, or green dial while the 41mm case is in stainless steel or 18 carat red gold. In addition, a combination of both materials shine on the two-tone Navitimer Automatic 41.

The full-gold versions carry the Origins label, signifying responsibly mined gold in line with the Swiss Better Gold Association's environmental and social standards.

The design has been refined with a contemporary notched bezel as well as alternating polished and brushed finishes that add a dynamic play of light.

Erling Haaland stars in the Navitimer 41 campaign.

The Navitimer Automatic 41 and GMT are equipped with Caliber 17 and 32 providing a power reserve of 38 and 42 hours.

Breitling's watch families are grouped in the Air, Land and Sea universes. The aviation heritage has made the Navitimer an Air icon.

Over the years, the pilot's watch has been repurposed as a symbol for those plotting their personal journeys through life.

This is epitomised by members of the Navitimer Squad, namely basketball superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Misty Copeland, explorer Bertrand Piccard, and Oscar-winning actor and producer Charlize Theron.

Brand ambassador since 2022, footballer Erling Haaland has joined the squad and stars alongside Antetokounmpo in the new campaign for the Navitimer 41 collection.

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