The original Breitling Navitimer is probably the most specific, in terms of purpose and function, of all pilot’s watches, but the term covers what’s actually a fairly diverse range of timepieces. The chronograph is strongly identified with aviation (to a significant extent, this is thanks to Breitling) but pilot’s watches can certainly be highly accurate time-only watches intended to aid in navigation (often with shielding against magnetic fields) and the category can include GMT and two time-zone watches as well. Some of the most distinctive watches ever made were pilot’s watches, including the Longines-Weems Second-Setting watch, and the Longines Hour-Angle. Like its brother-in-arms, the diver’s watch, the days of a pilot’s watch as an essential piece of gear in the cockpit are past; navigation today is a matter of GPS satellites and radar. But like diver’s watches, pilot’s watches still appeal, because the virtues of the world to which they are connected – bravery, the manifestation of hard-won skills, coolness under pressure – remain universally compelling. Behind every pilot’s watch is a dream of being, as they say, “a natural-born stick-and-rudder man.”
Which brings us to the Breitling Navitimer 8 B01 Chronograph. As any student of aviation watches knows, Breitling probably has more street cred as an aviation supplier than any other single watch manufacturer. The company started making cockpit instruments in its “Huit Aviation” department in the 1930s – its first aviation chronograph was made in 1936 (a black-dial model with radium hands and numerals). The first Chronomat, with a slide-rule bezel for general calculations, was produced in 1940 and of course, in 1952, the most famous of Breitling’s pilot watches was introduced: the Navitimer, with a bezel that’s essentially a miniaturized version of the E6B circular slide-rule flight computer (nicknamed the “whiz wheel” or “prayer wheel” by pilots) the first version of which was introduced all the way back in 1933.
For the full review, go to: https://www.hodinkee.com/articles/breitling-navitimer-8-b01-chrongraph-review