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Breitling Navitimer 01 Gold Watch Review

Breitling Navitimer 01 Gold Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

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 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 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…

Breitling Navitimer 01 Gold Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Breitling Navitimer 01 Gold Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

A few years ago, we published an article on “The Top 10 Living Legend 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 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 watches, and as such, picking the right one can be truly intimidating.

On the Breitling website right now, there are eight distinct model families of the Navitimer, each with a range of versions therein. This Breitling Navitimer 01 model with its 43mm-wide case itself has six different styles (again, not including the limited editions) depending on the case, dial, and strap option. You can opt for this watch in a polished steel case or in this polished 18k red gold case. Each is available on strap or bracelet (yes, a full gold bracelet is available) as well as some black or brown dial options. On top of that, you can opt for dials that use these baton-style hour markers or that have Arabic numeral options. And again, this is just the various current (non-limited edition) models for the Breitling Navitimer 01. That doesn’t includes other model families such as the Navitimer 01 46mm, Navitimer QP, Navitimer World, and Navitimer GMT – which each have their own unique elements and sub-varieties.

Breitling Navitimer 01 Gold Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

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 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.

Breitling Navitimer 01 Gold Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Breitling Navitimer 01 Gold Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

There also happens to be a rather wide range of prices that I believe start at around $6,500 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 $60,000 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 $11,000 less at around $48,000.


Breitling Navitimer 01 Gold Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

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 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.

Breitling Navitimer 01 Gold Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

In fact, this is the second review of a Breitling Navitimer 01 watch that we’ve published on aBlogtoWatch. Here, you can read our Max’s 2012 review of this Breitling Navitimer 01 watch in steel which talks a lot about why someone who loves 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 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 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).

Breitling Navitimer 01 Gold Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Breitling Navitimer 01 Gold Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

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.

Breitling Navitimer 01 Gold Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Breitling Navitimer 01 Gold Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Today, no one uses this feature (for the most part), but they still show up on watches, and no one is producing slide-rule bezels as well as Breitling, with their sense of silky smooth and assured precision turning under your fingers. Being the watch nerds we are, there is an aBlogtoWatch 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 watches. A more simple example is something like the tachymeter scale used to measure distances that you will also often find on chronograph sport 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.



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  • BrJean

    I agree that various bezel scales are not so useful today as they used to be, but they give this watch a lot of charm.

  • PleaseSpellRoman4AsIV

    The Navitimer is definitely one of the iconic watches to own, I look forward to adding one of them to my collection some day. My favorite so far was the limited “leap year” calendar version from 2013:

  • Mikkel Bau Jungersen

    “Tri-compax” does not mean “three sub-dials”. It was a term used by Universal Geneve to denote the number of complications in some of their watches.

    • Sort of like when people use the term ‘rehaut’ and ‘chapter ring’ interchangeably and incorrectly. Of course, in this case, it’s sort of correct. Chronograph, date, um, slide rule?

    • iamcalledryan

      Yup, this is a good old fashioned compax layout.

  • One of the nicest Navitimer renditions for sure. The tasteful use of gold on the dial and the white panda sub-dials which match the bezel color just show the care that was taken on this reference to get the visual just right – and still look like a Navitimer. While not cheap, considering it is a gold cased Swiss chronograph, the price is not totally insane. Thanks for the review Ariel.

  • I used to love the Navitimer, It was, at one time even, my “grail watch”. I’m not sure what happened with my perception and appreciation, but now it looks impossibly quaint to me. This offering in gold, seems even more so, but with the added “tackiness” of gold, for gold’s sake. I’m afraid I don’t own the plaid golf pants to be able to pull this one off. I probably need to go try on a steel 43mm one and see if I don’t still have a crush on it.

    • SuperStrapper

      I own the golf pants but still wouldn’t be caught dead with a panda dialed gold watch with red accents.

    • Baaart

      I actually have it the other way around. I never liked breitlings, mostly due to the busy dials and I like them clean. However this one really stands out and I really like it. Instead of a busy dial, I now regard it more as sophisticated.

  • Dinkee, H. O.

    I am afraid that you are wasting your time admitting your love for this magnificent timepiece in front of an audience of unfortunates. I see that the snivelling has already commenced. Might I suggest you aspire to a position with Hodinkee where you might be appreciated? No doubt there might be an entry level position — perhaps brushing off the dust on watches between photographs — and it might be had if you had the right connections. If you want to grow as a horology connoisseur and journalist (and this article shows you are not a lost hope) you will need an audience considerably more sophisticated. Perhaps after a year or two of dust brushing, you might move to a year of proofreading and then, well, who knows how far you’ll go with Hodinkee at the foot of the Master?

  • Spangles

    Troll post 1:
    If only the date weren’t on this watch. Why must so many watches be ruined by a date?

    Also, maybe a more manageable size for a men’s watch, say 25mm?

    Troll post 2: The 1884 completely, totally, utterly ruins the watch for me.

  • JimBob

    Not a fan of these in SS, but I like this one. Too bad about the gold burn factor.

  • Boogur T. Wang

    Very good review of a classic piece of watch history. I actually knew a pilot who had one of these (in steel), upon persistent questioning, admitted that not only did he know how to use the slide rule feature he really had used it; “once” – RIP CWO4 Benfield.
    This may also qualify as one of the first purpose-made “Tool Watches.”

  • Berndt Norten


  • Brian Marker

    I own the 01 46mm version in steel and I absolutely love this watch. When most people hear “46” or even “43” they go off the rails, blah blah blah. But what they fail to realize is that IMO the watch wears smaller due to the illusion of the “black dial” being the focus with the “white/silver slide rule” sort of disappearing. Your eyes focus on the black dial which is under 40mm and thus the actual “face” of the watch is small in reality. This is the reason why I chose the 46mm over the 43mm as the 43mm looked too small on my 7.5″ wrist. That and the sapphire caseback were the selling points for me on the 46mm. It’s hard to capture in photos, but in real life it’s more prevalent.

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