The 2009 Navitimer 125th Anniversary successfully mixes Breitling’s signature bold styling with the legendary slide-rule bezel in a surprisingly compact 43 mm stainless steel case. Although I find some of its design elements puzzling, to say the least (I am talking mostly about the “unique” Air Racer bracelet that, to my eyes, looks here like a set of polished 22-inch light-alloy rims on a 1946 Cadillac Series 62 coupe: they do the job, but make an awkward impression), with the bracelet replaced for something more adequate the gadget will be a crown jewel in any collection of pilot’s watches.
In 1942, when the Lüftwaffe still dominated the skies over Europe, the USAAF and RAF bombers were already delivering hundreds of thousands of tons of death to German cities, military installations, and industrial objects. At this time, Breitling has introduced the then-new Chronomat: their first “aviator” equipped with a slide-ruler that, presumably, could make a navigator’s life a bit easier. With its ivory-white dial with a bright red central chronograph hand, lots of lume on hour and minute hands, as well as very ergonomic push-pieces, the timekeeper immediately became a living classic of industrial design.
The Chronomat was popular among pilots on both sides. In fact, it was so popular that in 1952 the Swiss company started selling another slide-rule watch: the Navitimer. It was the collection that long outlived the original company itself.
In its traditional form -a pilot’s watch with a slide-ruler on its bezel powered by a mechanical chronograph movement- the Navitimer evolved for the whole ten generations before it imploded in 1973 as a model with a LED and then an LCD screen.
In 1986, seven years after Ernest Schneider took over the almost bankrupt company, the Navitimer was reborn as an 81600 model that used a hand-wound Lemania 1872 movement to power all of its many functions.
The model was a great success among aviators and other wealthy people and since that time the Navitimer family keeps on growing adding new and new versions, including those in gold and complications models.
This particular Breitling Navitimer 125th Anniversary chronograph watch is available in six different versions. At the time of writing this brief overview, you can order the 125th Anniversary Chronograph in stainless steel or in 18kt rose gold, with dials available in black, bronze, or silver.
Its compact (for a Breitling) 43mm case features a convex sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating and the trademark slide-ruler on its rotating bezel.
The watch is powered by the Breitling B26 caliber, which is in fact an ETA 2892-A2 movement adjusted to comply with the strict COSC certification guidelines.
Unlike the other Navitimers, the anniversary model lacks the small seconds sub-dial on the 9 o’clock and has it replaced with the hours’ chronograph sub-dial.
The free space at 6 o’clock is taken with the date window making the face not as busy and much more legible, which is a good thing for an “aviator”.
At this time, the company plans to limit the Navitimer’s production to 125 pieces in rose gold and 2009 units in stainless steel.
Breitling Navitimer 125th Anniversary chronograph specification
Movement: Caliber B26, based on ETA 2892-A2, automatic, COSC-certified chronometer, Swiss Made
Complications: Chronograph, date
Power reserve: 42 hours
Case: Stainless steel, 18kt rose gold
Size: 43.00 mm
Dial: Black, bronze, or silver
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Air Racer bracelet
Crystal: Sapphire, anti-reflective, convex