As mentioned in some of our auction highlights, which have featured Breitling’s, the company is now under new ownership and management, with ex-IWC CEO, Georges Kern at the helm. This is indeed a new era for Breitling and they’ve made no hesitations in being quick off the mark. Speaking to Breitling during our Baselworld meeting, it was clear to see that the task that is facing them is identity. Something they needed to get to grips with quickly was reducing the size of the current catalogue of watches. The best way? Introduce new pieces and discontinue out dated models – something which is currently ongoing. While some of their new releases have been greeted with much scepticism, one of the pieces that particularly peaked our interest was the new Navitimer 1 Automatic 38.
Ordinarily, you see the word Navitimer and automatically think this new piece is perhaps a downsized iteration, it is anything but. This new release is void of any chronograph registers – though it still possesses Breitling’s signature slide-rule bezel. Breitling have described this new release as being part of a legendary watch family, but it has its own personality, harking back to the 1950s when Breitling introduced the Reference 66, a three-handed Navitimer. The absence of chronograph registers, afford for a refreshingly clean dial.
Things get quite interesting with the case, which measures a rather modest 38mm, and while Breitling allude to the fact that it’s perfectly sized both for men who prefer smaller watches and for the many women who, over the years, have asked us to create a Navitimer with a smaller diameter – there is no doubt that men who in particular collect smaller vintage watches will see the appeal in this new Navitimer. Not to mention the colours used for the dials (black, blue and silver) are not exactly what you’d call feminine, however, they are neither overly masculine either.
This new Navitimer features a newly designed, beaded and ratcheted bidirectional bezel, lending this timepiece a distinctly elegant, yet nostalgic look harking back to the original bezel used on the very early Navitimers. It features a date window at 6 o’clock, with a matching date disc and a red-tipped second hand for easy readability. As mentioned, all models are available with either a black or blue dial and come with a matching alligator leather strap. The silver dial variant comes with an 18-carat red-gold bezel and a brown alligator leather strap.
Beating away inside is a Breitling Caliber 17 powers the Navitimer 1 Automatic 38. With its dual-acting ball-bearing rotor, it offers at least 40 hours of power reserve and is COSC-certified, which is hidden beneath a screwed caseback.
Overall it is a good-looking watch, albeit a perhaps diluted version of a Navitimer. That said, it is rather appealing and as mentioned refreshingly clean, and to add the highly wearable size of 38mm – something that will definitely appeal to both men and women. Personally, I think the black dial version looks best of the lot but of course that’s just my opinion, though I feel this particular combination will work well with whatever attire.
The new Breitling Navitimer 1 Automatic 38 in steel is priced at £3,500 (£3,700 on a bracelet) and the steel/gold version is priced at £4,460(£4,870 on a bracelet). For more information the new Navitimer 1 Automatic 38, visit the Breitling website.