Introducing: The Breitling Navitimer 8 Collection

Introducing: The Breitling Navitimer 8 Collection

Is George Kern Making Breitling Great Again?
 

By Josh Shanks
Managing Editor US


Since CVC Capital Partners acquired Breitling and subsequently hired George Kern to be their CEO, collectors and journalists have wondered what would happen to the iconic brand. Could Mr. Kern manage to turn Breitling around and put them back in contention with the top three? Would he manage to distill the very essence that made Breitling successful in the first place? Would he seek to reduce the plethora of existing references? Is smaller truly better in the eyes of a Breitling CEO?
 

Breitling CEO George Kern


The first results are in and it’s not just a single timepiece for Kern’s first introduction, it’s actually a series of five references. Dubbed the Navitimer 8 collection.

The History

Since its 1952 debut, the Navitimer (meaning “navigation” and “timer”) has enjoyed extraordinary success. Worn by astronauts, pilots, racing drivers, and the common man, the Navitimer is one of those watches that is instantly recognizable as a Breitling. Over a half-century, the brand released a steady stream of Navitimer references. Today, vintage references can command significant prices. It’s very suitable that Kern chose re-introducing a modern Navitimer as his first task.
 

The first Breitling Navitimer in 1952


For all of the “would he” questions asked earlier, the one constant is that Mr. Kern has a knack for positioning brands in line with their heritage and targeting consumers new and old. Naturally, when the Navitimer 8 was released this week, it set the blogosphere abuzz. Here a look.

The Navitimer 8 Collection

As announced during a glitzy gala in Shanghai, the new Navitimer 8 series. Which is basically an evolution of their exemplary Navitimer line is assuredly a safe bet for Breitling’s first introduction under Kern. However, this collection still marks a departure from the over-sized and some would say over-engineered timepieces of the last decade.
 

Breitling Navitimer 8 B01 with black dial and black alligator strap


The collection is made up of five individual references. The Navitimer 8 Automatic, Navitimer 8 Day & Date, Navitimer 8 Chronograph, Navitimer 8 Unitime, and Navitimer 8 B01. While there’s a lot to digest here, there’s literally a watch or complication for anyone.
 

Breitling Navitimer 8 B01 with black dial and black alligator strap


Markedly, Kern and his team have reduced case sizes across the board. From 41mm for the time only Navitimer 8 B01 and Navitimer 8 Automatic, to a respectable 43mm for the Navitimer 8 Chronograph. It’s clear that Kern and Co. have listened to customers concerns. 

The Engines

In an effort to keep costs reasonable, Breitling has opted for three tiers of movements in the Navitimer 8 collection. Starting with an ETA 2824 in the Automatic and Day / Date variants, a Valjoux 7750 in the Chronograph, and culminating with in-house B01 and B35 movements in the 8 B01 and Unitime models. Also, depending upon the reference, you’re also getting a power reserve between 40 to 70 hours.
 

Breitling Manufacture Caliber 01


This wide offering of movements allows Breitling to bring prices down to an attainable CHF 3,600 for the Automatic base model and top out at CHF 19,500 for the 8 B01 in rose gold. 

Collection overview

Here’s a rundown of the five Navitimer 8 references in the collection.

Navitimer 8 B01 -

As the sole world-time in the Navitimer 8 collection, the Unitime reference is well-designed with some horological pedigree to boot. Set in a 43mm stainless-steel case and powered by a COSC-certified Breitling Caliber B35 with 70hrs of power reserve. Featuring the same bezel design as the rest of the collection. The real star is the black or silver dial with 24 country zones printed on the outer-dial ring. Finally, the piece comes with two strap options – a black alligator leather ­– or a stainless-steel bracelet. Priced at CHF 7,950 on strap and CHF 8,650 on steel bracelet.
 

Breitling Navitimer 8 B01 with black dial and stainless steel bracelet

Navitimer 8 Unitime -

As the sole world-time in the Navitimer 8 collection, the Unitime reference is well-designed with some horological pedigree to boot. Set in a 43mm stainless-steel case and powered by a COSC-certified Breitling Caliber B35 with 70hrs of power reserve. Featuring the same bezel design as the rest of the collection. The real star is the black or silver dial with 24 country zones printed on the outer-dial ring. Finally, the piece comes with two strap options – a black alligator leather ­– or a stainless-steel bracelet. Priced at CHF 7,950 on strap and CHF 8,650 on steel bracelet.
 

Breitling Navitimer 8 Unitime with silver dial and stainless steel bracelet

Navitimer 8 Chronograph -

The second chronograph in the Navitimer 8 is simply dubbed the “Navitimer 8 Chronograph.” This model is more accessibly priced than the B01 and features a non-in-house Valjoux 7750 movement. Which Breitling has taken to calling the Caliber 13. Measuring 43mm, the case is available in stainless-steel or DLC-coated steel. The chronograph is capable of running more than 42 hours. Featuring a minimalistic black or blue dial with balanced minute/hour counters. Like the Unitime, the Chronograph is also available on black alligator leather – or stainless-steel bracelet. Pricing is CHF 5,100 on strap, 5,800 on bracelet, and a DLC-coated edition comes in at CHF 6,300.
 

Breitling Navitimer 8 Chronograph with blue dial and stainless steel bracelet

Navitimer 8 Day & Date -

Who doesn’t love a good Date & Date display? While the addition of a complication typically seen on dress watches is a curious one (this is a Pilot’s collection after all) Kern was able to strike a balance between elegance and sport. A 41mm, this is a watch that’s suitable for a sport coat or t-shirt. Powered by an automatic ETA 2824 which Breitling calls their Caliber 45. Featuring 40 hours of power reserve and a solid case back. Available with a black or blue dial and strapped to black alligator leather or steel bracelet.  Priced at CHF 3,800 on strap and CHF 4,350 on bracelet.
 

Breiting Navitimer 8 Day & Date with black dial and black strap

Navitimer 8 Automatic –

The most accessible (starting at CHF 3,600) of the lot, the Navitimer 8 Automatic may be my favorite in the collection. Offering a subdued (for Breitling) design with a variety of dial, case, and bracelet options. At 41mm, this is also a very suitable choice for the gentle sportsmen or cubicle dweller. Powered by an ETA 2824, more commonly known as the Breitling Caliber 17, featuring 40 hours of power reserve. Here’s where it gets interesting – there are multiple configurations available on the Navitimer 8 Automatic. Stainless-Steel and DLC coated cases are an option, as well as blue or black dials. Additionally, you can opt for a black alligator leather strap or a stainless-steel bracelet. The Navitimer 8 Automatic starts at CHF 3,600 and goes up to CHF 4,800 depending upon configuration.
 

Breitling Navitimer 8 Automatic with blue dial and black leather strap

Summary

The Navitimer 8 is Breitling’s first collection produced under the tutelage of George Kern. With striking bezels, great movements, and dynamic cash finishes, these five references combine to make a compelling offer. The retro-aviation timepieces offer value, function, and elegance. All novelties will be available between June and October of 2018. Please note release pricing will vary based upon currency fluctuations. 

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