The 1960s and 1970s are often referred to as the golden era of aviation. Following an unprecedented boom in commercial aviation that began in the 1950s, flying was rapidly becoming more accessible. For the first time, many people could entertain the idea of flying across a continent or even an ocean. Playing a key role in this exciting development was Swiss watch manufacturer Breitling. Its onboard chronographs became standard equipment, first in propeller-driven planes and later in the jets produced by the world’s leading aircraft manufacturers.
To pay homage to this important time in the brand’s history, Breitling has launched its first capsule collection – the Navitimer 1 Airline Editions. With colour schemes inspired by three of the most emblematic airlines of that time, these special models revive the cool and evocative style of the 1960s and 1970s.
Breitling’s involvement with aviation dates back to the early 20th century. In 1932 a fresh-faced Willy Breitling took over the company his grandfather had founded. At that point, Breitling’s collection already included more than 40 different chronograph models designed for the wrist or the cockpit. Focused on innovation, Willy continued to search for ways to make the watches even more functional and practical. In 1934, he filed a patent for the world’s first wrist chronograph with two pushers.
Four years later, he established the Huit Aviation Department, which developed dashboard clocks and other dedicated chronometric instruments, including wrist chronographs, for military and civil aviation. The Huit Aviation Department became a key supplier of chronographs to the Royal Air Force during World War II and is the modern inspiration for the Navitimer 8 collection.
After the war, Breitling turned its attention to commercial aviation. In 1952, the company debuted an unprecedented watch prototype that remains an icon to this day: the Breitling Navitimer. Its name is a portmanteau of the words “navigation” and “timer.” Equipped with a flight-specific slide rule that was introduced on the earlier Chronomat, it is little wonder that countless pilots, airlines, and aircraft manufacturers have opted for this timepiece ever since.
The Navitimer 1 Airline Editions pay tribute to the pioneers of civil aviation and celebrate some of the most emblematic airlines of the era, namely; Swissair, Pan Am and TWA. Aviation enthusiasts will no doubt appreciate the historic significance of these airlines and the roles they played in helping shape civil aviation as we know it. Design buffs meanwhile will love the watches’ retro appeal, inspired by the young, cool design styles of the 1960s and 1970s.
Although all forming part of the same capsule collection, each model is distinctly different from the next. The Swissair edition shows off a strong black and white aesthetic, while the Pan Am Edition flies the patriotic red white and blue with silver subdials. Slightly more understated is the TWA edition, which pairs a shimmering silver dial with contrasting anthracite subdials. A printed logo of the corresponding airline appears on the sapphire crystal caseback of each watch, while common red highlights on both the dials and the hands tie the capsule collection together. Different strap options are also available so you can personalise your watch to suit your tastes.
All three models are based on the Navitimer 1 B01 Chronograph 43, Breitling’s new flagship Navitimer, which debuted last year. Presented in an updated, slimmer case, it’s powered by the Manufacture Breitling Caliber 01, a chronometer certified chronograph manufactured in-house. Accurate to 1/4th of a second, this automatic movement offers a minimum power reserve of 70 hours. Hours and minutes, along with the chronograph seconds, are displayed centrally, with running seconds shown on the subdial at 9 o’clock.
A 30-minute and 12-hour counter appear at 3 o’clock and 6 o’clock respectively, with a small date window in-between. Surrounding the dial is the iconic circular slide rule complete with ratcheted bezel. Offering the Navitimer 1 Airline Editions as a capsule collection is a very deliberate choice by Breitling. Produced for a limited time, and consequently in low volumes, they are designed to tell specific stories rooted in the history of the brand’s core collection. They are not limited editions however and are therefore not numbered.
Watches of Switzerland is a proud Official Breitling Retailer at our boutiques in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne City and Melbourne International Airport. The Brietling Navitimer Airline collection will be available from early May, 2019 at these locations, stock will be very limited so we encourage you to contact your closest Watches of Switzerland to register your interest and avoid disappointment.