People love the model’s historical ties to the golden age of commercial aviation, its sophisticated looks, and its excellent build quality. At 41mm, the original was a large watch for the time, and subsequently, even larger versions have made an appearance on the scene—variations can get as big as 50 millimeters, which is like wearing a White Castle burger on your wrist. Today, however, Breitling is reversing that trajectory with the introduction of new Navitimer watches in 36mm and 32mm, with Academy Award winner Charlize Theron as the face of a new campaign.
Dubbed rather succinctly the Navitimer 36 and 32, the new, smaller pilot’s watch—like the 41mm references in the collection—maintains the slide rule bezel but eschews the chronograph function of the original model. In the mode of recent Oyster Perpetual watches from Rolex and Seamaster Aqua Terra watches from Omega, the colorways are happy and pastel-like, though there’s also a handsome anthracite option for those who prefer a more classic, subdued look.
Several versions of the 36mm in different metals are on offer: Three in stainless steel ($5,000-$5,300) feature mint green, silver, or anthracite dials with baton indices, while a fourth version ($7,250-$9,650) matches a steel case to a mother-of-pearl dial with round cut, lab-grown “better diamonds,” an 18K red gold bezel, and a matching two-tone bracelet. Looking for something flashier? Have no fear: A final version crafted from 18-karat, traceable red “better gold” ($12,950-$33,000) likewise features a mother-of-pearl dial and diamond indices.
With its classic beaded edge, the bio-directional slide rule bezel offers the Navitimer’s owner the ability to compute all sorts of flight-centric information: Should your on-board computer break, a quick glance down at your handy wrist companion will allow you to calculate speed, distance, and even fuel consumption. Hopefully this doesn’t happen, and your Navitimer remains a mere time-telling accessory, and nothing more. (None of the references, it should be noted, have date windows, making for an overall cleaner design.)