The first Breitling Navitimer, with its built-in chronograph, stylish design, and circular slide rule bezel, quickly became a favorite of airline pilots shortly after it debuted in 1952, around the dawn of what we now refer to as the golden era of commercial aviation, from the late 1950s to early 1970s. This year, Breitling pays tribute to that booming era of passenger flight, and the iconic airlines that emerged from it, with the release of its Navitimer 1 Airline Editions — a “capsule collection” produced in a limited volume and celebrating three historical carriers: Swissair, Pan Am, and TWA.
All three of the Airline Editions are versions of Breitling’s Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43, with 43-mm stainless steel cases and that famous bidirectional circular slide rule bezel, an innovation that allowed the pilots of the ’50s to make crucial flight calculations on their watches, essentially serving as wrist-borne onboard computers in those halcyon days of commercial flight. Inside each case is Breitling’s in-house Caliber B01, renowned for its integrated 1/4-second chronograph function driven by a column wheel, its substantial 70-hour power reserve, and its timekeeping accuracy, as attested to by its COSC chronometer certification. All of the watches feature the classic Navitimer three-register dial layout, with a date window at 4:30, and each one has a sapphire exhibition caseback bearing the classical logo of the airline it represents.
The Navitimer 1 B01 Chronograph 43 Swissair Edition, the first of the trio to be announced, celebrates the former national airline of Breitling’s home country of Switzerland. In keeping with the airline’s (and the nation’s) colors, the dial black with silver subdials and red highlights, such as on the hands and the inner scale of the slide rule bezel. The Swissair logo is printed on the caseback, and the watch is offered on either a vintage-look black leather strap or a stainless steel mesh bracelet.
The second Navitimer 1 Airline Edition honors Pan American World Airways, remembered worldwide by its abbreviated name, Pan Am, one of the dominant forces in commercial aviation during its most historic era. The dial sports the red-white-and-blue color scheme of the USA, with a blue dial, silvery white subdials and red detailing. The watch comes on a brown leather strap, Breitling’s “Air Racer” steel bracelet, or a Milanese mesh bracelet. Pan Am’s globe-inspired logo, in another shade of blue, adorns the caseback.
Rounding out the capsule collection is a timepiece inspired by another iconic 20th-century American carrier, Trans World Airlines, or TWA. This watch’s dial is silver-colored, with anthracite gray subdials and bright red-orange on the hands and inner calibrated slide rule scale, the latter reflecting the color in the printed, vintage TWA logo on the sapphire caseback. The TWA Edition is also offered on either a vintage-styled brown leather strap or a mesh bracelet.
Breitling CEO Georges Kern says that the Navitimer 1 Airline Editions, which will be available at retailers in April 2019 (prices yet to be set) will be produced for a limited time and at a limited volume but not as a numbered limited edition.