The Breitling Navitimer was first introduced in 1952. It was unique by virtue of the fact that it incorporated a clever circular sliderule that allowed pilots of the era to make important and life-saving calculations. We are now in a world where technology has the ability to automatically make, and react to, these aeronautical calculations. However, the Navitimer is as popular now as it ever has been. This is a reflection of the brilliant design of the original and the fact that the sliderule can be used in real world situations to convert currencies, multiplications, divisions and convert mph to kmph.
The Navitimer is now the oldest chronograph timepiece still available that has been continuously produced.
A partial history of this historically significant and fascinating timepiece is embedded in this review of the latest Navitimer family member, the N01, by following this link:
The Navitimer World adds something different to this proprietary line of Breitling’s timepieces in that it can display a second timezone through the introduction of the chronometer rated Calibre 24.
This complication is most commonly thought to benefit frequent travellers only. However, I do not travel anywhere near as much as I used to and yet I find this to be a useful and charming function. In this ever shrinking world, as governed by the internet and its various social platforms we can often make friends and acquaintances that are thousands of miles away, and yet we do not need to leave the comfort of our armchairs to socialise with them. Also, we should consider the availability of 24/7 live sport that is provided for us on dedicated round-the-clock TV channels. In this regard, I find the 24 hour indicator on the Navitimer World to be useful for checking the local time for foreign friends and live global events. The ‘World’ is better at facilitating this requirement than some second timezone timepieces on the market in that the 24 hour indicator can be changed at will, and without upsetting the timekeeping, simply by pulling the crown out the first position and turning it towards you. The legibility of the 24 hour indicator is exceptional though the use of the bright red arrow head. This compliments the red tipped chronograph seconds hand nicely. The 24 hour numerals are embossed in gold to reflect the Breitling logo.
Other complications, which are a given for any of the Navitimer descendants, are the aforementioned world famous and unique circular sliderule and a chronograph, usually of the tri-compax variety.
The other feature that distinguishes the Navitimer World from its siblings is its increase in girth. The ‘World’ is a large watch even by today’s standards. In my opinion it seems even bigger than its specification of 46mm suggests because we are so used to the Navitimer and its 24 hour dial brethren, the Cosmonaute, being “only” 41.8mm and 41.5mm in diameter, respectively. Also, the dial details have not been on steroids in the same manner as the case has. These two optical illusions cause a surprise, when first trying on the Navitimer World, at how comfortable it is to wear. I believe this deception is further enhanced by the clever, and classic, design of the lugs which scarcely protrude from the case. I have a 6.5” wrist and felt happy wearing this oversized Navitimer.
As is expected there is considerable depth to the Navitimer World. This 15.5mm height, combined with the 46mm diameter does result in a watch that is nigh on impossible to conceal under a shirt cuff. Not that I would want to hide this glorious watch away but it may be a consideration for some.
When I first saw the Navitimer World I wasn’t sure about its dial design. It immediately seemed that the designers had beefed up the dimensions of the case and then forgot about the individual elements that make up the incredibly functional dial. I have since come to terms with this to the point that I concede it makes sense. I think my initial reaction was derived from the fact that so many brands were pumping up the proportions of their watches and the dial details were following suit. After giving this some thought I realise that a lot of watches that have been “treated” to this design philosophy can look the horological equivalent of obese. Not a good look. The only analogy I can use to help express this thought would be the comparison of someone who spends a lot of time leaning up the bar and someone who spends a lot of time lifting up the barbells. Both have managed to add weight and bulk and yet the latter looks strong, agile and well proportioned and the other looks week, ungainly and all over the place. One looks buffed and the other just looks buggered. One has “the pump” whilst the other looks over-inflated. You get the idea.
So, I believe the Navitimer World works perfectly well with its extended case whilst retaining the elegant and legible hands, subdials and a myriad of numerals.
The oversized Navitimer World has further kept the classically good looks of the rest of the family by virtue of the attention to details that Breitling is famed for. The subdials are recessed which draws the eye and gives them their own distinctive territory on the multifunction and informative dial.
This three dimensional element is further enhanced by the beautifully polished hour markers. Their reflective nature contrasts vividly with the matt black dial, which seems to absorb light of any intensity.
Functionality and legibility are in no way compounded by a reduction in light as can be seen with the impressive luminosity afforded by the generous amount of Superluminova applied to hands and dial. Sadly, the 2nd timezone and chronograph functions become redundant as darkness comes but the ability to read of the time is maintained.
As with all Breitlings, every element of the ‘World’ has been given considerable thought for its aesthetics and functionality. This even includes the caseback which includes an engraving that depicts the timezones of all the major cities across the globe.
The Navitimer World family consists of Blue, White or Black dialled versions that can be married to a leather strap or the peerless Navitimer bracelet.
The Navitimer World has been so successful and popular over the years that Breitling have made the wise decision to use the outline and geometry as a basis for their new Navitimer 1461 which contains their proprietary 4 year calendar.
In conclusion: The Navitimer World adds a contemporary twist to a recognisable and traditional design. The GMT function is useful for all kinds of reasons and the increased proportions follow the current trend for larger gent’s wrist watches. Through clever design Breitling have managed to maintain the Navitimer DNA which made the original a success for well over half a century. Many large watches look a little ungainly but the ‘World’ is one of those rarities that follow a la mode over-sized dimensions with a very classical look. It also defies its extended girth by being very comfortable to wear, even on my pre-mid life spread wrists.
However, don’t just take my word for it. I will finish with a valuable testimonial: Sam, of Andrew Michaels Jewellers, has the enviable luxury of being surrounded by the largest stock of vintage, discontinued and brand new Breitlings in the UK and he will forcibly claim that the Navitimer World is by far his favourite Breitling of all time. He appreciates the heritage of this long serving timepiece that is coupled to a new contemporary size and feel. Like many others he is counting the days until Breitling decide to add an in-house movement to this glorious timepiece.
As always I would like to thank Andrew Michaels Jewellers for their generosity in lending me this Navitimer World for review.
All words and pictures by Richard Atkins (unless otherwise stated). Please ask if you wish to reproduce any of the material in this article.