Although the Breitling Navitimer is becoming avidly searched for by collectors within the over 58 years since its introduction, it’s still for the reason that magic sweet place where desirability and affordability converge.
Breitling is among the great horological success tales from the late 20th and early 21st centuries. In 4 decades ago, however, it appeared as if the Breitling story was over. The firm that were making chronographs because the 1880s had closed, and appeared as if it might become another casualty from the havoc wreaked around the Swiss replica replica watch market by cheap quarta movement replica replica watch in the East, along with a devalued dollar towards the West.
Breitling Chronomat (circa 1942) was the very first chronograph to become outfitted having a circular slide rule, or ‘slipstick’, enabling the individual to transform models easily without digital assistance.
But in the moment it appeared the last rituals ought to be pronounced over this horological corpse, the seed products of their current renaissance were planted. Breitling was absorbed through the Schneider family and progressively, throughout the eighties, started to reassert itself. It had been a outstanding comeback.
Today, Breitling is among the best-known replica replica watch marques on the planet. 30 years of prudent family management have built a company centered on interacting an easy message: big sturdy replica replica watch, usually chronographs, many by having an aviation inclination, which are COSC-licensed. And, out of the box frequently the situation having a firm that’s strong in current production, there’s been an upturn within the prices accomplished at auction.
One Breitling replica replica watch that exemplifies this, is the Navitimer, which Breitling launched in 1952. The “Navi” prefix, by the way, alludes to the navigational assistance afforded by this replica replica watch, and the circular slide rule can convert miles into kilometres or nautical miles, calculate rates of ascent, descent and fuel consumption, as well as solve a whole host of other mathematical problems — and with a great deal more elegance than the quartz calculator wristwatches of a generation later.
You don’t have to take my word for it; Aurel Bacs, the legendary replica replica watch boss of Christie’s Geneva, backs me up. “The Navitimer is like the Omega Speedmaster and Rolex Submariner, forever taking a position in the hall of fame of tool replica replica watches,” explains the sage of the Place de la Taconnerie.
“The Navitimer is a replica replica watch that has gone up in value in the last decade like many other tool replica replica watches, being a counterpoint to the dressier ‘gentleman’ pieces made by famous Geneva manufacturers with double-barrelled names,” he says, alluding to the likes of Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin. Its popularity is also helped by Bacs’ observation that “the Navitimer is one of the coolest replica replica watches to wear every day”.
And that is what distinguishes the Breitling collector, according to Bonhams replica replica watch expert Paul Maudsley, who recently sold two gorgeous time-capsule Navitimers in new old-stock condition with box, papers, etc. Where a collector of another brand might be tempted to stick such an example in the safe and bring it out only for gloved gloating, the Breitling collector straps it to his wrist and goes about his business. And in this, he is only following a noble tradition.
By the early 1960s, the company’s advertising told the world that “Breitling figures on the instrument panels of the 15 leading aircraft manufacturers or airlines”, adding that the Breitling Navitimer was “Specially recommended to airmen by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association AOPA”. The AOPA logo can be seen on many period pieces.
And, of course, as with any really iconic product of the 1960s, it received the ultimate sanction when it starred in the coolest Bond film of the age: Thunderball. A Breitling is both the timepiece of choice of the villainous military pilot who steals the bomb, and of agent 007 himself, who wears a Geiger-counter-equipped Breitling Top Time.
Other Breitlings do crop up at auction from time to time; the Co-Pilot is another ’60s favorite of mine; it’s a clean, classic, three-register chronograph that Raquel Welch wore in the film Fathom. And Paul Maudsley says that older Breitlings are beginning to be appreciated; in particular, he is an admirer of the Breitling Unitime, a world time replica replica watch from the early 1950s. “It’s just a really nice classic replica replica watch,” he says. “If you put Patek on the dial, you would be looking at £80,000 to £100,000.”
Happily, for those of us who love vintage Breitlings, prices are nowhere near that steep. For instance, Aurel Bacs reckons 10,000 Swiss francs will secure a tip-top Navitimer, which is probably one of the reasons it remains so wearable: prices have risen, but unlike the aviators who made Breitling famous, they have not soared out of reach.
Excerpted from an article by Nick Foulkes in REVOLUTION’s archives.