Breitling Navitimer 8 Automatic 41

The new Breitling Navitimer 8 Automatic 41 was a shock to me since it was a Navitimer that looked like anything but one. In any case, the simple pilot watch (inspired by on-board clocks) is a pretty strong competitor for the IWC. I think it’s going to come down to aesthetic style for anyone choosing between the two. In terms of size, it is actually conservative given Breitling’s reputation, at 41mm wide and 10.7mm thick. I don’t have the exact lug-to-lug measurement, but the lugs are pretty short and curved here.

One big difference is the addition of a bidirectional bezel, which the IWC Mark XVIII certainly doesn’t have. The two do have a solid steel caseback in common, and the Breitling has their Breitling 17 movement in it which gets a 40-hour power reserve. I’d say the IWC, Bremont, and Breitling are all on the general playing field with movements and basically the other relevant metrics. Price is essentially the same as well, at $3,930.

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In-House Will Cost You More Than The IWC Mark XVIII

I think the Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special watches strike the balance between the the IWC Mark XVIII and the much pricier ($12,900 to be specific) IWC Big Pilot’s watch. Offering an in-house Elite 679 Automatic movement in an either newly available 40mm or existing 45mm case available in steel or bronze, the Pilot Type 20 is actually a refined version of Zenith’s version of what the IWC Mark XVIII succeeds at. But, Zenith wasn’t terribly pleased with the previous model (introduced in 2014 and abandoned one year after) that used a Sellita-based movement and thus, this updated model was born. The Elite 679 Automatic has a 50-hour power reserve and operates at 28,800 bph.

The distinct onion crown, large legible hands and numerals, and engraved caseback all make for a handsome package that probably isn’t as “everyday” as the IWC Mark XVIII. As I mentioned, it’s available in two case sizes with the 40mm wide case having a lug to lug length of just around 48mm and 12.95mm thick. The 45mm wide case has a 54mm lug to lug length and is thicker at 14.25mm. The 40mm model in steel or bronze is priced at $5,700 and the 45mm is priced at $6,700.

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The pilot aesthetic and design that many IWC watches including the Mark XVIII have master can be had in several great options that cost much less. Sinn’s discontinued 657 was my favorite pilot watch the German brand made, but there are still some solid offerings like the 104 St Sa, which runs on a Sellita SW 220-1 movement with a 38-hour power reserve and comes in a 40mm wide case with a 47mm lug to lug length and 11.5mm thick case priced at around $1,600. Of course, their 856 (and new, larger 836 Pilot Watch) boasts anti-magnetic resistance of 80,000 A/m, with an automatic 38-hour power reserve Sellita SW300-1. It’s housed in a 40mm wide case with a 47.5mm lug to lug length and 11mm thick steel case, priced a little bit more around $1,800 on a strap and $2,200 on bracelet.

Bell & Ross V1-92

The Bell & Ross V1-92 also uses the SW300-1 movement, branded as the BR Cal. 302, though in a smaller case sized at 38.5mm wide and 11mm thick with a lug to lug of 45mm. It’s the pilot watch style with a dressier package at a price of $1,900. The Oris Big Crown Pointer Date watch uses a modified Sellita SW-200, which they re-brand as the Oris 754 and has a 38-hour power reserve. The case size here is 40mm wide with a 48mm lug to lug length and 12.58mm thickness, and it’s priced at $1,600.

Zodiac Jetomatic

At the ~1,000 mark the Zodiac Jetomatic actually offers something different when it comes to the movement. Owned by the Fossil Group which has their own STP Manufacture, Zodiac uses their STP 1-13 movement which frankly is a lot like a similar ETA. However, it operates at 4Hz with a 44-hour power reserve, but also has a blued swan neck regulator that you can admire from the exhibition caseback of the 42mm wide watch. You can learn about this regulator more from Zen’s review of the watch here. It’s priced at $995 on strap and $1,050 on the bracelet.

If the aesthetic of the IWC Mark XVIII is more what you’re going for, then the Alpina Startimer Pilot Automatic is likely the best option at $995. It’s way bigger, though, measuring 44mm wide with a 52mm lug to lug. Of course, the AL-525 movement is a modified Sellita SW200 movement.

I wouldn’t feel totally comprehensive if I didn’t include alternative picks for the IWC Mark XVIII from our resident pilot watch enthusiast, Zach Piña here. His choices were the Bremont Martin Baker II, Breitling Aerospace, and the Sinn EZM10.

It will be interesting to see what the future of IWC watches will be under the new leadership of Christoph Grainger-Herr now that Georges Kern has departed for Breitling. I’ve heard whispers of updates to the Aquatimer, but I know I’m not the only one who will be anticipating new pilot watches whenever they may come.

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