From Flight to Tool Icon: Introducing the 2022 Navitimer
As Breitling’s legendary timepiece turns 70, the brand unveils a redesigned collection that is all about bold color, enhanced styling—and incredible journeys.
For 70 years, Breitling’s original pilot’s watch has been beloved by aviators and tastemakers in equal measure. Worn by an astronaut in space and the biggest stars on Earth, it is Breitling’s most iconic timepiece. Today, Breitling honors the legend with the introduction of a new Navitimer that captures its most classic features, while enhancing them with modern refinements.
“We don’t throw the term ‘icon’ around lightly,” says Georges Kern, CEO of Breitling. “The Navitimer is one of the most recognizable watches ever made. It’s on collectors’ lists of the greatest watches of all time. What began as a tool for pilots has gone on to mean something profound to every single person who has had this timepiece along on their personal journey.”
The de facto Pilot’s Watch
Not even its inventor could have predicted the phenomenon the Navitimer would become. In 1952, Willy Breitling developed a wrist-worn chronograph with a circular slide rule that would allow pilots to perform all necessary flight calculations. Two years later, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the largest aviators’ club in the world, announced the design as its official timepiece. The association’s winged logo was emblazoned at 12 o’clock, and the “navigation timer”—or Navitimer—was born.
The Navitimer grew up alongside the burgeoning civil aviation industry. Beloved by airline captains and aircraft enthusiasts, it even made its way into space on the wrist of astronaut Scott Carpenter in 1962 as a 24-hour timepiece to tell day from night. And it wasn’t only pilots drawn to the watch’s irrepressible aesthetic. Celebrities of the day, such as Miles Davis, Serge Gainsbourg, Jim Clark, and Graham Hill, were devotees, proving that the Navitimer had style as well as function.
An evolution in Breitlng’s signature modern-retro style
To create the new Navitimer, Breitling preserved the most recognizable aspects of the icon’s design code. From a distance, this is unmistakably a Navitimer, with its circular slide rule, baton indexes, trio of chronograph counters, and notched bezel for easy grip. Up close, however, its modern refinements come through loud and clear.
A flattened slide rule and a domed crystal create the illusion of a more compact profile. Alternating polished and brushed finishes give the metal elements a lustrous yet understated quality. A slimmer silhouette on the oscillating weight enhances the open-case back view of the COSC-certified Breitling Manufacture Caliber 01. This movement is backed by a five-year warranty, provides approximately 70 hours of power reserve, and allows the wearer to change the date—now visible through a discreet window in the subdial at 6 o’clock—at any time.
The watch comes in a range of sizes (46, 43, or 41 mm), two case materials (stainless steel or 18-karat red gold), and a choice of straps (semi-shiny alligator or seven-row metal bracelet). Modern colors in shades of blue, green, and copper define its updated dial options. And if there is one feature sure to spark nostalgia, it’s the return of the AOPA wings to their original position at 12 o’clock.
For the journey, celebrating what moves us
Today, after 70 years, the Navitimer has gone beyond being a tool used by pilots to navigate their course. It has become a symbol for those plotting their personal journeys through life.
Breitling celebrates this significance in a new campaign, NAVITIMER—FOR THE JOURNEY, featuring the Navitimer Squad, made up of basketball superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Misty Copeland, and aviation pioneer and explorer Bertrand Piccard. Each member has been on an incredible journey to get to where they are today at the top of their fields. Each one has charted a course and stayed on it through sheer determination. And each one is on route to achieving their next set of ambitions. Using powerful visuals and the Squad Members’ own narration, the campaign gets to the heart of these moving journeys.
“This project means a lot to me because it celebrates not only where I was in life, but where I’d come from and where I am going,” says Misty Copeland. “There is an absolute parallel between navigating towards a physical destination and navigating towards the vision of where you want to be in life. You’ll see that theme come through in these three stories.”
The Navitimer has come a long way since Willy Breitling first drafted his idea for a wrist-worn flight tool. This redesign, with its focus on color, styling, and inclusive appeal, marks a new phase in the Navitimer’s journey, one that blends Breitling’s modern aesthetics and values with its historic watchmaking savoir-faire to create an updated identity for the iconic watch that started it all.