Breitling reinvents icon with Navitimer 8

 

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Over the weekend, something big happened. Breitling CEO Georges Kern after about two weeks of merciless teasing on his personal Instagram and on the Breitling social feeds has released a brand new Navitimer. This watch is a big deal for two reasons: 1. It carries the legendary name Navitimer 2. It is the first all-new watch to come out of the Breitling brand under the tutelage of Mr. Kern.

After working with the Breitling brand for the better part of two decades here at Burdeen’s (and watch fans ourselves) we knew that Mr. Kern had to make a name for himself in his first shot – and recreating the Breitling icon is certainly one way to do it. So how did he, and his design team do it?

Well, they didn’t just create one Navitimer 8, they created a line within a line. No, we’re not talking about the Navitimer 01/Navitimer World lines as we know them now. Instead, we’re talking about an entirely separate wing of the Navitimer family and will stand right alongside the existing Navitimer lines.

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New Looks, New Price, Same Attitude

This new wing eschews the traditional look of the calculator sliding bezel, for a (still sliding) but calculator-less bezel that’s chunkier and more traditional looking than today’s Navitimer 01 & Navitimer World. In fact, its looks are reminiscent of the old Breitling Top Time, again, with a chunkier bezel.

Like the Top Time, and frankly, the Navitimer 01, the new Navitimer 8 has a Panda dial. However, unlike the familiar 01 and World, the calculator slide rule is nowhere to be found. It does have two things in common with its older Navitimer forebears – its movement. The Navitimer 8 has the tried and true B01 movement while the Navitimer 8 Chronograph has a movement based on the Valjoux 7750 – just like the Navitimer World. Unlike the World, the 8 Chrono eschews the GMT function for a Day-Date complication.

These watches weigh in at a traditional (but small for Breitling) 43 mm. We believe this new size will do a good job of attracting new potential wearers to the brand who have been turned off by the brand’s penchant for large sizes. Essentially, it will be a nice counterbalance to the Super Avenger or even the 47 mm Navitimer 01 GMT.

Remember how we said that the 8 was going to be its whole wing of the Navitimer family? That’s what we meant. Plus, we’re not even done. There are two other variants to go through as well – not even counting case materials (rose gold) and finishes (DLC-Coated Black Steel) as well as Breitling’s prerequisite bracelet and strap choices.

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Navitimer 8 Automatic, Day-Date & Unitime

Now that we’ve covered the chronos, it’s time for the meat and potatoes. The simplest model in the new line is the Navitimer 8 Automatic. Let’s call a spade a spade here and say that it’s somewhat reminiscent to the IWC Pilot Mark XVIII – especially the Le Petit Prince variant with its incredibly popular blue hue. That said, the Navitimer 8 Automatic does have one feature to separate it – the new Navitimer’s soon-to-be iconic chunky bezel. We’re big fans of the Mark XVIII, but if there’s one thing we’ve heard, the 40.0 mm IWC just doesn’t fit in that Goldilocks size zone.  At 41 mm, this Breitling just might for some buyers.

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Now, the Navitimer 8 Day-Date is unlike anything else. With the Day window at 12 o’clock, the Date at 6 o’clock, and of course, that chunky metal sliding bezel. With so many watches carrying it, we told you that it will be iconic on its own right. This watch is powered by the Breitling Calibre 45, based on an ETA architecture, and, as with every Breitling watch, COSC-Certified.

Finally, we have the Breitling Navitimer 8 Unitime. This World Time watch is powered by the same Calibre B35 movement that has found its way into the Bentley B05 as well as Breitling Galactic and Transocean lines. Despite the advanced movement, it has a 70 hour power reserve and a sapphire caseback.

For the chronograph range, prices are rumored to start at CHF 7,100 or about $7,600 for both a stainless steel bracelet and leather strap variants at launch. Like all in-house B01 movement models, there is a five-year warranty on these watches.

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The culling…To the Elite 8 Model Lines?

Now while these changes to the Navitimer family did bring new watches to the Breitling world, it was not without ‘bloodshed.’ Breitling is rumored to lose the Transocean, Galactic and the Chronomat to make room in the case for the expansion of the Navitimer lineup. We shall see, but that rumor suddenly popped up around the virtual water cooler on Breitling watch collector forums and Facebook groups. As to how close to the truth those rumors are, are anyone’s guess.

If you are a big fan of any of those watches, you should either pick a new one up while you still can, or watch our selection for a preowned one. Or, like a lot of things, the Breitling Culling could all could be internet nonsense.

Whatever’s happening with the existing lines, we’re highly intrigued by Mr. Kern’s first big watch release as CEO because it is major. This one watch release really should count as about four. Matt Burdeen will get his hands on them at Baselworld in March and we should see them in our cases starting in June.

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