We have liftoff!
It’s the year of the Navitimer at Breitling and the company pulled out all the stops to show off its newest editions of the 70-year-old pilots watch in Zurich on Tuesday. CEO Georges Kern hosted a lavish summit to debut the new timepieces which culminated in a carbon-neutral flight powered by sustainable aviation fuel from Zurich to Geneva on Swiss Air. Onboard, journalists and retailers were shown the famous aviation watches in mid-air with stewardesses passing out the wrist candy. In fact, it was such a big affair that an entire section of the Zurich airport’s B gates was blocked off to shuttle the crowd on multiple planes. The company has been steadily increasing its sales and, according to a Morgan Stanley report, took in CHF 680 million (over $730 million at the current exchange) in 2021 for an increase of 42 percent from the previous year…and it showed.
Now the company is banking on a slew of fun-colored dials in its Navitimer collection to keep up with the recent mania for brightly hued watches. Rolex started the trend with the release of its highly successful Oyster Perpetual models last year which came with dials in candy pink, turquoise, bright yellow and fire-engine red hues. Many of them now retail for double to triple the price of their original $5,600 price tags. Then came the limited-edition Patek Philippe x Tiffany & Co. Nautilus with its Tiffany Blue dial, which really sent the market into a frenzy. That model in turn made the craze for the Rolex Oyster Perpetual turquoise dial rise to over $33,000 in the secondary market. Omega followed suit this year with new Omega Speedmasters in burgundy, navy and forest green dials.
Breitling’s latest Navitimers now come in shades of ice blue, mint green and copper in either stainless steel or 18-karat rose gold on either a leather strap or metal bracelet. “We’re a happy brand that wants to make happy products,” exclaimed Kern as he strolled the main cabin in a full commercial airline pilot’s uniform, cap and all. For the record, he says he’s personally adopted the mint green, ice blue and silver dial Navitimers for his personal wardrobe.
The standout is, without a doubt, the minty green hue which pops on the wrist and looks surprisingly good with just about anything, judging from those we saw try it on. The ice blue dial, however, is a nice option for those that want to opt into the trend without too much flash—its hue is so subtle that in certain light it appears silvery and at other times, a cool blue. The copper, of course, will also be hot as it takes on a rosy hue reminiscent of the always collectible salmon dials so often seen at dressier brands.
But there is something for everyone here. The collection is broad with pieces ranging in size from 46 mm to 43 mm and 41 mm, and includes some more traditional dial hues like forest green and navy, as well as some classic versions in silver, black and white with subdial counters in either black or white across the range. Another standout was the navy blue 41 mm Navitimer with black sub counters (pictured below left), which had sleek albeit darker appeal than some of the other headliners.
But it wasn’t all about color schemes. Updates to the new Navitimers include a flattened slide rule and a domed crystal that give the illusion of a smaller profile—something Kern mentioned is a long-term objective in the line. Breitling’s creative director, Sylvain Bernon, who was also present for the debut, mentioned he would even like to create smaller and possibly slimmer case sizes for the collection in the future. Already “under the knife” was the oscillating weight, visible through the caseback, which now comes in a slimmer profile. The watches are powered by the Caliber 01 chronograph movement which boasts 70 hours of power reserve and is backed by a 5-year warranty. Serious fans of the model will also notice that the AOPA wings have been returned to their original position at 12 o’clock.
The collection ranges in price from $9,400 to $39,500 and is available starting in April. Act fast before they fly off the shelves.