Breitling Navitimer 1 B01 Chronograph 43 Capsule Collection
Since Georges Kern has taken the lead at Breitling, the brand has steadily changed vision, shifting from being mainly linked to modern military aviation to sign unexpected partnerships with the worlds of cinema, water sports, and motorcycles. The last in a row has been the signing of an agreement with Norton Motorcycles, one of the most attractive motorcycle brands in the world, and unquestionably the most celebrated British one. The brand has not refused its contemporary aeronautical DNA; it has instead apparently abandoned an Aermacchi aircraft's cockpit (the Chronomat Frecce Tricolori) and the long-standing claim "Instruments for Professionals" to strengthen its nod with military and commercial aviation belonging to World War II and beyond.
The rise of the Breitling Navitimer.
From a product plan point of view, the first outcome is that the Breitling Navitimer collection that has turned sixty in 2019 and has always been a pillar of Breitling's offering has expanded further after the handover process from old to new owner (CVC Capital).
Breitling's Product Marketing Managers have kept working to strengthen its roots, by releasing a collector-ready re-issue of the original Navitimer, the Breitling Navitimer Ref. 806 1959 Re-Edition, and expanded the standard range of the aviator's classic chronograph par excellence.
Along with this product reference, that boasts a splendid hand-wound manufactured movement, by the way, Breitling has introduced a so-called capsule collection, to celebrate the golden age of commercial flights that saw the brand become quite popular among pilots and frequent travelers alike.
TWA, Pan-Am and Swiss-Air.
These three airline companies have marked the recent history of civil aviation, offering long-haul flights to a wide range of consumers. Today TWA and Pan-Am are no longer in existence, apart from some commercial activities such as a Pan-Am merchandising project aimed to lovers of collectibles and fashion accessories, who look for items sporting the company's celebrated blue logo.
The Breitling Navitimer 1 B01 Chronograph 43 Capsule Collection combines the brand's iconic chronograph with a slide rule to the three airlines' brand colors, respectively. A Capsule Collection is not like a limited series; its offering is limited in time; each timepiece is not individually numbered. Hence the total production is not specified.
It's a kind of strategy geared towards attracting new customers before that collection eventually goes out of production all of a sudden. The most impressive feat is, however, the Breitling Navitimer gets a whole new character, so different from any other Navitimer's over the last twenty years.
Three Breitling Navitimer like you have never seen them before.
These three new timepieces add a seducing unique touch to the Breitling Navitimer, by successfully combining nostalgia and "cool" factors. The Breitling Navitimer 1 B01 Chronograph 43 Pan-Am Edition is, in my opinion, the most attractive of the three, due to the lure of the historic Pan-Am logo: the dial is in vivid Pan-Am blue with contrasting silver registers and red accents.
It is not going to make history for being the soberest Navitimer ever, but it is no doubt the sportiest so far. The Breitling Navitimer 1 B01 Chronograph 43 Swissair Editions is notably more understated, whereas the Breitling Navitimer 1 B01 Chronograph 43 Airline Edition - TWA, with its panda dial, is in between the two, aesthetically speaking, and is the closest to a classic Navitimer, as its silver dial integrates a classic Navitimer's cues with, again, red accents, that are common to all three product variations.
The mechanical caliber that powers the 43mm wide watch is no other than the excellent Breitling B01, one of the most respected modern chronograph movements in the watch industry that other brands are currently adopting too (Tudor, for example), guaranteeing a remarkable 70-hour power reserve. The three timepieces come each with any steel bracelet available in the brand's catalog (mesh bracelet or Air-Racer), with the addition of a nubuck leather strap, either sporting a pin buckle or a folding clasp.
Pricing, and final considerations.
When I first saw the press images of the three watches altogether, I was quite surprised. In making the 2019 Capsule Collection, Breitling has turned a pretty conservative yet quintessentially classic chronograph, geared towards a select few watch lovers, into a sportier and fresh-looking Navitimer.
I consider this Capsule Collection a brilliant marketing operation that helps increase the collection's "halo" effect as long as representing a link between the brand and a relevant period in modern commercial aviation's development that has little or no coverage at all by the competition. However, I don't buy some choices like the adoption of the three logos on the case-back, something that looks quite outdated when it comes to contemporary co-branding projects.
I would have gone instead for a delicately applied logo somewhere on the dial, the winding rotor, or the case-back's external ring for example, other than hiding them at all. If the Pan-Am logo design is such that its style matches the transparent case-back seamlessly, the others end up with fully covering the movement and look like somebody has just gone and applied a sticker. Pricing is not so attractive: in its most expensive variation, sporting a steel bracelet, each costs € 8,200, a price that dangerously closes up with a Navitimer Rattrapante's, a timepiece that I reckon looks even more appealing in the long term, considering it is the only double chronograph to adopt, in its segment, an in-house mechanical movement.
(Photo credit: Google, Peter Tung for Horbiter®)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®