These days, your eyes can be deceiving. At first glance, the Breitling Navitimer 1884 is just another Navitimer. In fact, a quick look might have you mistake this watch for the 01 Blacksteel or Stratos Gray variants. Another look might show the subdials at 12, 9 and 6 o’clock; telling you that it’s related to the less expensive Navitimer World and not one of the 01’s with their in-house movements.
However, upon closer inspection, the 1884 will yield plenty of surprises beyond its use of an off-the-shelf ETA Valjoux 7751 movement. Called the Breitling B21, the base movement might be common, but what a movement it is! Not only is this watch a Certified Chronometer (like all Breitlings), but features a slew of complications that simply aren’t found on most other timepieces.
What do we mean by that? Well, the 1884 features not only the standard Navitimer chronograph and slide rule, but also Day, Date, Month & 24-Hour complications. The 24-hour clock is the subdial at 9 o’clock; the day and month are in the 12 o’clock subdial and the date is denoted by the crescent moon.
If you love complications, then this is the Navitimer to get over even the 01 variants. Minus a moonphase, this watch is one of the most sophisticated watches in the Breitling lineup and we might eve get this over the brand new 46 mm Navitimer 01. Why? Well, barring a leap-year, you won’t have to set this watch for three years if you keep it charged. Plus, this watch’s production is Limited to 1,884 (get it?) pieces worldwide with each piece numbered on the back of the case to commemorate Breitling’s founding in 1884.
Close to, but not perfect
We found that one of the most difficult aspects to get used to on the watch is the crescent moon date as well as the use of a separate tool to set the day function. While this practice is standard operating procedure on Swiss watches with complications beyond GMTs and chronographs, it is a bit of a pain to fish out a separate tool to set the day-date – and can be a bigger hassle if you have a multi-watch rotation or if you’re afraid that you’re going to lose the tool.
It’s 46 mm, but due to the shorter hands, wears somewhat larger than its brethren. Thanks to its black dial and short hands, it creates an optical illusion that makes the watch look more like the 48 mm Navitimer 01 GMT than the 46 mm Navitimer World that it shares a movement and measurement with.
This watch is truly one-of-a-kind – not only in the Breitling lineup, but in the Swiss watch world in general. While we got to wear it in the crocodile strap variants, the watch is also available with a rubber strap and Navitimer steel bracelet. Regardless of what you choose, this watch would be a welcome addition to any collector’s watch box – but you better hurry up, because given the limited production, there won’t be many left. But, lucky for you, we actually have in stock.