Breitling’s Navitimer is one of those models that is being regarded as an iconic watch. Like Rolex’ Daytona or Omega’s Speedmaster, the Navitimer is right up there as well. The big difference is though, that I find it quite difficult to determine what the most ‘original’ Navitimer is of the models available today. Breitling does not ‘celebrate’ its Navitimer like Omega does with their Speedmaster, or make simply one available model like the Rolex Daytona.
According to the Breitling website, their Breitling Navitimer Heritage is a commemorative model to the original Navitimer from 1952. However, this is a special edition, which makes me wonder if it is a model that is always there or that it is a time limited model. The Navitimer that comes closest to the vintage Navitimer reference 806 in my opinion, is not the Heritage model but the Navitimer 01. This model at least has the same chronograph lay-out like the original reference 806 and not the typical Valjoux 7750 lay-out with counters at 12, 9 and 6 o’clock.
Breitling used to be one of the few completely independent manufactures out there, but that has recently come to an end. A majority stake was sold to CVC Capital Partners, as you can read in this write-up by Carol Besler for Forbes.
My suggestion to CVC Capital Partners would be to demand some clarity or restructuring for the Navitimer collection. How come an iconic watch like the Navitimer that is basically older than the Speedmaster, has great heritage and story to it, gets almost no attention? I can’t remember Breitling organizing anything around this iconic watch for enthusiasts and collectors. I can’t remember Breitling doing anything for enthusiasts and collectors to be honest. Anyway, I hope that Breitling will put the Navitimer a bit more in the spotlights in the future.
Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante
That said, I had the opportunity to see and try the new Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante in both stainless steel and red gold (limited edition to 250 pieces), and these watches were quite impressive. Not only due to the red gold or size (45mm), but the design – even though it is more than 60 years old – is simply stunning. An all stainless steel version of the Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante (thus on bracelet) will set you back 11.260 Euro. However, if you don’t need the stainless steel bracelet and opt for a calf strap with buckle, you are done just below the 10.000 Euro mark. Add a folding clasp or alligator strap and add a couple hundred more. The red gold version is limited to 250 pieces only and has a different price tag of course. The red gold Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante retails for 37.920 Euro. That is almost 4x as much as the stainless steel one, which I do not entirely understand. The mark up for a limited edition might be decisive in the costs, and the use of red gold of course, but a factor 4 is quite steep in my opinion. Perhaps Breitling aims at those who don’t care and just want the watch badly. Compare it to the gold version of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Jumbo (Extra-Thin) reference 15202. That one is just a bit over 20.000 Euro in stainless steel and just below 50.000 Euro in gold. That’s also an expensive watch, but not 4x as expensive as the stainless steel model. Anyway, now we’ve talked about prices, let’s have a look at the actual watches.
The Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante in red gold is might impressive, but so is the one in stainless steel to be honest. Not only the size and design are impressive, also the rattrapante (split-seconds) chronograph with the 3rd pusher on the crown is down right cool. The movement, Breitling’s in-house manufacture caliber B03, has two patents. The pusher on top of the winding crown is used to stop and restart the split-seconds hand as many times as you want during a timing operation. The other pushers are to stop, start and reset the normal chrono function.
Breitling’s B03 movement is based on the B01 chronograph movement. Introduced years ago, with quite some ‘noise’ by claiming it was the best chronograph in the world in their advertisements. I am not sure whether that is the case, but fact is that Tudor put so much trust in it that they are using it for their Heritage Black Bay Chronograph as well (be it slightly modified). The B03 is more complicated, due to the added rattrapante function, so the price of the stainless steel Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante is also higher than that of the ‘regular’ Breitling Navitimer 01 (which retails for 8420 Euro on a bracelet). The good thing about Breitling’s Navitimer collection is that there is a lot to choose from. The B03 caliber offers 70 hours of power reserve and ticks at 28.800vph. It also features a date complication (located at 4:30). The movement is visible through the sapphire crystal on the red gold version, the stainless steel model has a solid caseback.
Both models, in red gold and stainless steel, have a beautiful bronze-colored dial. Especially with the red gold, this is an awesome combination. It was difficult to take this watch off my wrist to be honest. The stainless steel is a bit more ‘cold’, but the bronze-colored dial does warm it up. If combined with a nice dark alligator strap, it is a rock solid combination for sure.
On the wrist, the 45mm is actually nice. I am not keen on wearing oversized watches, and to some 40mm is already oversized, but I felt quite comfortable with 45mm on my wrist. The watch is big, let there be no misunderstanding, but it wears a bit smaller than the specifications would make you think. The weight of the red gold Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante is significant of course, and adds a bit of oompf to the watch when worn on the wrist.
The bracelet on the stainless steel version is the famous model with 7 links next to each other. It is my favorite Breitling bracelet, although I certainly do appreciate the long discontinued rouleaux bracelet (on Chronomat watches) that could be seen on the wrist of Jerry Seinfeld very often. The Navitimer Rattrapante in steel with the steel Navitimer bracelet retails for 11.260 Euro and is te most expensive configuration for the steel model. The bracelet definitely adds a good bit of weight to the watch. To be honest, if you are in the market for this Navitimer Rattrapante (or whatever Navitimer) I would always go for the model with bracelet and buy a spare strap. Perhaps you’ll find yourself wearing it on strap most of the time, but the bracelet is mighty comfortable and for value reasons, I think it would be good to have it with the bracelet as well.
I’ve worn bigger watches and watches of similar size that wore uncomfortable, the Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante in 45mm is therefor comfortable for me. I noticed that the Breitling Navitimer B01 comes in 43mm and 46mm and I would probably opt for the 43mm to be sure. Some models however, like this Rattrapante version, is only available in one size.
The red gold Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante has reference RB031121|Q619|252S|R20D.2 and retails for 37.920 Euro. The stainless steel version starts at 9.990 Euro for reference AB031021|Q615|101X|A20BA.1 (calf strap and normal buckle).
In the end, the Breitling Navitimer is a cool watch, almost despite which version you want to go for (or can go for). The least expensive Breitling Navitimer is their Heritage model on a strap, which retails for about half of the price of the stainless steel Navitimer Rattrapante. The Navitimer Heritage might not have an in-house movement by Breitling (but instead the rock solid ETA/Valjoux 7750) and the ‘compax layout’, but it remains to be a very iconic piece that offers value for money. But here we have the Navitimer Rattrapante, a watch with attractive bronze-colored reverse panda dial and an in-house developed and manufactured B03 movement with splits-second complication. If money would be no subject, I would definitely go for the red gold version that is limited to 250 pieces. However, for most people it is, and then you have to decide if you want to pay the difference between a regular ‘Heritage’ model or the B01 model and this more complicated version. In my opinion, the approximately 10K Euro for the Navitimer Rattrapante isn’t that bad compared to the competition out there. The Daytona is perhaps the most obvious reference to compare it to, which lists (if you can get one at all) for approx 11K Euro. And let’s not forget that the Daytona has no rattrapante. The competition from IWC is their Pilot Double Chronograph, which retails for 12.400 Euro and is not an in-house movement.
With the Navitimer Rattrapante, you are buying something slightly different off the beaten paths and yet you are adding an iconic watch to your collection. Be it in steel or in the fancy red gold. The Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante is impressive. Now I only hope Breitling and their new owners will come closer to the watch collectors and enthusiasts, by cherishing their fans a bit more, restructure their collections and make something truly dedicated to those first 1952 Navitimer models. Make me buy one.