I cannot remember when Breitling watches first came to my attention but it was a long, long time ago. As my interest in the brand deepened and I explored their history and the long association they have had with aviation, my desire for one just got more intense. As a young boy I had avidly read every Biggles book I could lay my hands on and I concluded that as surely as Bond wears an Omega, then Biggles would sport a Navitimer! If it was good enough for Biggles then it was good enough for me.
Breitling’s own website describes the Navitimer as follows:
THE INSTRUMENT THAT HAS SYMBOLIZED THE BRAND SINCE 1952
In launching the Navitimer in 1952, Breitling gave pilots a genuine wrist instrument. Ingenious and efficient, this chronograph is endowed with a built-in “navigation computer”, a circular slide rule capable of performing all calculations a flight plan requires. The Navitimer thus became the official watch of the AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association), the world’s largest grouping of pilots. In over 50 years of existe, the Navitimer has achieved cult object status, therby joining the select circle of modern, ultra-functional and timeless objects that have made their mark in the 20th century. Since the famous “806” model in 1952, the Navitimer has found its way through the years unchanged in either form or spirit. Continuously produced throughout this period, it is now the world’s oldest chronograph.
This history convinced me that this was Biggles’ watch and I had to have one. In 2005 I was in Northampton for a dinner dance with MINI2 (A BMW MINI car forum) and I saw a Navitimer in a jeweller’s window in the town. It looked absolutely huge and my dream of having this beautiful watch faded, as I looked at my slim wrists! I told my wife that I would just try it on so that I could dismiss this dream once and for all, so inside we went. Well the watch looked stunning on my wrist and I wanted it there and then. How I agonised that day and at that moment in that shop, as I wrestled with temptation. The truth was though, I just did not have that kind of money in my back pocket ready to blow on a watch. No, if I wanted that watch it would have to come my way by old fashioned saving up.
Finally in October 2007, some 2 and a half years later, I had got the money together and after checking out every Breitling shop that I passed, I finally got one from Fraser Hart in Solihull. We had gone to Solihull for a shopping trip and when I saw the jewellers we checked them out. The Breitling was there but with batons and I wanted an arabic face – this watch has a busy face so let’s really go for busy, was my thought! I made the chap ring all the other branches and he tracked one down for me. This was a Sunday and on the following Wednesday evening I returned to collect my watch. My Navigation through time, for a Breitling was at an end! Or was this the beginning…
For the watch enthusiasts here are the specs:
Caliber: Breitling 23
Movement: Selfwinding mechanical
Power reserve: min. 42 hours
Chronograph: 1/4th second, 30 minutes, 12 hoursJewel: 25 jewels
Calendar: dial aperture
Water resistance: 3 bars
Bezel: Bi-directional, slide rule
Crown: Non-screw-locked, two gaskets
Back (or caseback): Screwed in
Crystal: Cambered sapphire, glareprofed both sides
Diameter: 41.80mmThickness: 14.60mm
Weight: 79.40 gr.Interhorn width: 22/20mm
Beauty rating: 5 *
Put simply, this was and is my Grail Watch!