Fasten Your Seatbelts: A Closer Look At Breitling’s Navitimer 1 Airline Editions
Breitling is bringing back the glory days of air travel with their newest capsule collection.
There was once a time when air travel wasn’t the monotonous affair that it is today. Aboard futuristic jet planes straight out of a science fiction novel, travelers flew high above the clouds to destinations far and wide. Were they charged for checked baggage and a bag of peanuts? Hell no! This was the golden age of air travel when air carriers flew unregulated and seemingly without borders. In the 1950s and 60s, there were only two watch brands controlling the friendly skies, Breitling and Rolex.
Long before Boeing launched the iconic 707, Breitling had already outfitted one of their chronographs with a circular slide rule. The production model was formally introduced in 1952 and called the Navitimer. For decades, Breitling has been a preferred piece of equipment for pilots. To celebrate this rich history, Breitling has introduced three Navitimer 1 Airline Editions. Let's go hands-on!
Pan American World Airways (PanAm)
Pan American World Airways, PanAm for short, was the brainchild of founder Juan Trippe who once mused, “Mass travel by air may prove to be more significant to world destiny than the atom bomb.” In the end, he was right, since the end of World War II, rapid advancements in air travel have allowed Supersonic passenger flights, long haul flights, and everything in-between. Traveling to Europe and Asia from all points is now commonplace. A half-century ago, however, this wasn't at all possible. PanAm had a huge role to play in the advancement of modern-day air travel, and the former airline has lived on in folklore.
It was PanAm's Clipper aircraft which began the arduous cross-Atlantic journeys, followed by beautiful Boeings and ultimately the double-decker 747. To celebrate this legendary airline, Breitling has introduced the Navitimer 1 B01 Chronograph 43 Pan Am Edition. The bright blue color wave of PanAm's logo, dubbed "The Blue Meatball" is present throughout this stunning new chronograph.
Like the other pieces in the Airlines Editions collection, the PanAm edition is powered by the Breitling Manufacture Caliber 01 automatic chronograph movement. The bright blue dial motif is contrasted by stark white subregisters with red accents. On the wrist, the Milanese bracelet makes for a comfortable fit. Now let's have a look at PanAm's arch-rival, TWA.
Trans World Airlines
If you've ever seen the movie The Aviator you'll understand the history behind TWA. Acquired in 1939 by billionaire inventor and magnate Howard Hughes, the airline was in the business of breaking records. Distance, speed, and altitude were the name of the game and the eccentric Hughes put his money where his mouth was. PanAm had their Clipper, TWA had the Constellation, a four-engined aircraft which represented a monumental leap in air travel. For the first time, the interior of the plane could be pressurized, allowing it to fly into the stratosphere, above the weather.
Breitling's Breitling Navitimer 1 B01 Chronograph 43 TWA Edition features a bright white dial with red accents. Again, the motif closely resembles the color palate of the original TWA logo, which can also be found stamped on the sapphire crystal caseback. Sized at 43mm (like all other Airlines Editions) this piece would look great at 30,000 feet sipping a Negroni.
While TWA formally ceased operations in 2001, the brand is enjoying a bit of a renaissance in New York, one of the airlines biggest former hubs. The recently opened TWA lounge at One World Trade brings back the swinging sixties on the 86th floor of the new World Trade Center. In fact, Breitling used the location for the official US launch of the Airlines Editions, a fitting place indeed! Keep an eye out later this year for the TWA Hotel at JFK, the airline's former terminal is being transformed into a chic destination for those wishing to disappear into the golden age of travel.
What would this Swiss Made collection of Navitimers be without paying homage to Swissair's "Flying Bank?" For the uninitiated, Swissair operated for nearly a century and flew everything from heavy cargo to vacationers traveling to exotic locations. At one time, the airline operated nearly unchallenged. Because of their financial stability (Swiss eh?) they could manage to travel to destinations off the radar of traditional European liners. While Switzerland is a relatively small country, Swissair helped open the skies to a whole new generation.
Breitling's Navitimer 1 B01 Chronograph 43 Swissair Edition faithfully pays tribute to this once great airline. This 43mm timepiece features a strong panda dial with black as the primary color and contrasting white subdials. Red hands and chapter ring perfect match Switzerland's flag. You may notice that all three Airline Editions pay homage to airlines no longer in existence. While Swissair is now technically Swiss International Airlines, the three former grand dames of air travel (PanAm, TWA, and Swissair) all recall the glory days of air travel. And in my opinion, each piece is a fitting tribute.
You'll also notice that each piece in the Airlines Edition features a different primary bracelet substrate. PanAm features a glossy Milanese bracelet, while TWA has a rough brown leather strap, and finally, Swissair has a supple black leather strap. A nice touch that Breitling took the time and effort to distinguish each piece with a unique identity. However, we've been advised that owners will be able to purchase other strap options for their Airline Editions pieces.
Pricing and Availability
The Breitling Navitimer 1 Airline Editions start at $8,275 on leather and jump to $9,160 on Milanese bracelets. A unique two-piece metal strap made of stainless steel with large holes is available for $9,225. While these pieces are technically "limited", Breitling CEO Georges Kern had this to add, “We are introducing these Airline Editions in a new capsule collection that will be produced for a limited time and consequently in a limited volume, but the watches are not numbered. With these capsule collections, Breitling aims to tell specific stories rooted in the history of its core collection. This distinguishes them from our limited editions, which will retain their original intent: to be limited to a small, fixed number of watches.”
Availability will be Spring/Summer 2019 and available at Breitling's website and authorized dealers. All three piece in the Airline Editions pay a fitting tribute to the golden age of air travel. We'll end with a quote from TWA's former owner Howard Hughes, "Do the impossible, because almost everyone has told me that my ideas are merely fantasies."
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)