January 3, 2015
by Ariel Adams
The newest Breitling Navitimer models are new GMT versions that sport quite beefy 48mm wide cases and also new 46mm wide Navitimer models – aBlogtoWatch debuted the 2014 Navitimer GMT watches here. Breitling makes watches for guys who like big watches. That might just be a good slogan for the brand moving forward. In fact, among the mainstream luxury brands, Breliting is among the few that routinely make watches that I actually find too large for my wrists – and I am a guy who likes large watches. It means bigger guys who like to show-off have ample choice within the Breitling product catalog. So with that said, let’s take a look at the new Breitling Navitimer GMT and see if your wrist can brave it.
To be fair, the Breitling Navitimer GMT isn’t that much larger than other Navitimer models (though you can get Breitiling Navimtimer collection pieces as small as 40mm wide, I believe). The Breitling Navitimer 01 (hands-on aBlogtoWatch review here) is 46mm wide. Both of these watches contain in-house made Breitling mechanical chronograph movements. While the three-hand version contains the caliber 01 movements, the new Breitling Navitimer GMT contains Breitling caliber 04 – which simply adds a GMT hand for a 24 hour time or a second time zone to the other features such as 12 hour chronograph. The movement operates at 4Hz and has a power reserve of about 70 hours.
I actually don’t know why Breitling decided to increase the GMT’s size 2mm more than the standard chronograph movement-based Navitimer 01. Actually, I have some pretty good ideas why though. Watch brands sometimes do this in order to create additional differentiating factors between their watches so that, for the consumer, the choice isn’t just “GMT hand or not.” I don’t think there was an outcry from Breitling consumers that 48mm wide Navitimer options were needed. It does help offer additional flavor though, if you are the type of person keen on the Navitimer family – one of Breitling’s oldest collections that started in the 1950s. Furthermore, this isn’t the only available Breitling Navitimer with a GMT hand.
In addition to the 48mm wide GMT Breitling also produces the rather less expensive Navitimer World which comes in a 46mm wide case and has a chronograph/GMT complication. The difference is that the Navitimer World does not have an in-house made movement. It’s Swiss ETA Valjoux 7750-based movement that has a different chronograph layout. Admittedly, the “tri-compax” layout of the Breitling caliber 04 movement is slightly more attractive. More so, the caliber 04 equipped models have a sapphire crystal window display caseback – which is still something uncommon for Breitling watches.
What makes a Navitimer a “Navitimer” is the rotating slide-rule bezel. This retro calculator gives the (skilled) pilot wearer the ability to make a series of calculations, assuming all the instruments in his or her aircraft are down, and he or she is still able to fiddle with a watch during emergency flight. I’ve heard mixed things from various pilots about whether or not use of a slide-rule is still taught in pilot school. At least a few military pilots claim that it is.
The wide dial periphery and slide-rule give each Navitimer its distinctive looks – a design that you can’t separate from Breitling. It is a true design classic, and if you are looking to amass a serious “well-rounded” watch collection you might want to consider adding one of the many Navitimer models Breitling has produced over the years to it. There have been more than enough versions made to make most anyone happy.
While you can get a Navitimer in 18k red gold (including the new Breitling Navitimer GMT as a limited edition ref. RB044121|BD30|441X|R20BA.1), for me, this is a watch meant to be owned in Breitling’s highly polished steel case. Few Swiss brands today are as dedicated to the iconic and timeless appeal of a well-polished case. Though you can opt for plenty of other Breitling models in brushed cases, which will be a bit more “stealthy” in appearance.
Compared to some other classic pilot watches, the Navitimer has never been the most legible, given all the markers and information on the dial. With that said, detailing is very good, and for what it is, the Navitimer is pretty easy on the eyes. The “panda” style dial of the ref. AB012721|BD09|441X|A20BA.1 Navitimer 01 46mm and the GMT 48mm ref. AB044121|BD24|441X|A20BA.1 (and the ref. AB044121|BD24|443A come on the Navitimer-style steel bracelet) Breitling Navitimer GMT with its off-white subdials and periphery area and black main dial is a classic, but don’t discount the appeal of the all cream-colored ref AB044121|G783|757P that is also fantastic in design and more suitable for some tastes, as it matches very well to the brown leather strap.
The Breitiling Navitimer GMT is not the only timepiece recently released by the brand with a rather large size. Having said that, Breitling has also been releasing smaller models for men as small as 38mm wide, I believe. That means you have a lot of interesting options from 38mm – 48mm wide when looking at the brand. While it is easy to say that it takes an expert to distinguish many Breitling watches from one another (not too far from the truth), the brand can be complimented for offering a serious plethora of choices for those looking to find the perfect piece when desiring to own something from the brand.
Price for the Breitling Navitimer 01 46mm is $8,215. Prices for the Breitling Navitimer GMT watch start at $9,055 for the steel watch on the strap, and go up to $10,460 for the steel watch on the matching steel bracelet. The limited edition Breitling Navitimer GMT in 18k red gold retails for $28,105. breitling.com