Breitling Navitimer 1959 Edition
The Re-Edition pays tribute to the original 1959 Breitling Navitimer Ref. 806 which is a well-known aviator chronograph and a beloved classic timepiece. For the new edition, Breitling has replicated a number of the design features and stayed true to the look and purpose of the original watch.
One example is the rotating beaded bezel which is made of precisely 94 beads which were also found on the original 1959 model. Later models have had between 93 beads in 1960 up to 125 beads in the early ‘50s and it’s one of the distinct features connecting the re-edition to the vintage Breitling Navitimer 1959 Edition model.
The stainless-steel case has the exact measurements as its inspiration plus the all-black tone-on-tone small second, 30-minute and 12-hour chronograph counters. As a signature element, the dial with highly-domed Plexiglas is highlighted with a Breitling inscription in capital letters and an unsigned winged logo.
Two invisible modern improvements have been added to the re-edition: the water resistance increased to 3 bar (30 meters) and a Super-LumiNova coating. However, the color has of course been adjusted to be aligned with the luminescent material on earlier watches. The hand-finished application gives the dial an additional touch of vintage allure and adds to the character. The in-house Breitling Manufacture Caliber B09 has been chosen as the movement since it is based on the renowned Breitling Caliber 01 which has been developed specifically for historical re-editions.
Breitling first introduced the Navitimer in 1952 and it was officially recommended as pilot’s watch by the “Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association” (AOPA). The complex bezel with logarithmic and double rotating slide rule scale can be used for quickly calculating fuel consumption, rate of climbing or sinking – something that was quite handy in a time before personal electronic devices! What made the 1959 version so special was the all-black dial with tone-on-tone subdials and the beaded edge on the side rule bezel. The design is said to be practical and ensure easy grip even for pilots wearing gloves.
Every year at Baselworld, there are a few watch releases that really steal the show. This, I believe, will be one of those. Breitling has been experiencing a lot of change under the leadership of Georges Kern, their new CEO, and has focused heavily on returning to the brand’s roots with its designs and catalog. Continuing on that trend, Breitling has announced the Navitimer ref. 806 1959 Re-Edition, a near-exact recreation of its iconic (yes, I’m using that word) pilot watch that was released 60 years ago, limited to 1959 pieces.
Originally released in 1952, the Breitling Navitimer became loved by pilots worldwide thanks to its chronograph functionality and slide-rule bezel, providing a useful tool before electronic instruments took over every cockpit. The Navitimer has long since been a staple in Breitling’s collection, but throughout the years, it definitely strayed far from its original design roots, with changes in size, logo, and decoration involved in its evolution.
This 1959 Re-Release is nearly identical to the Navitimer it’s based on, featuring a stainless-steel case clocking in at 40.9mm in diameter and 13.43mm-thick. The movement ticking inside is Breitling’s Caliber B09, a hand-winding column-wheel, vertical clutch chronograph movement with nearly 70 hours of power reserve, beating at 28,800vph. The dial is mostly black, with faux patina lume on the numerals and hands — a color mirrored by the slide-rule bezel the Navitimer is known for. Keeping with its vintage inspiration, the 1959 features an acrylic crystal, as well. As far as strap options, the 1959 comes on a vintage-style black leather strap. And just in case you need it, the case is water resistant to 3 bar.
In 2018, Breitling brought us the Breitling Navitimer 1959 Edition collection, one of the first large releases under Kern. This line was meant to harken back to the glory days of Breitling and bring back much of the past design language that so many Breitling collectors loved. Now, we have this 1959 re-release, which, in my opinion, is the best looking Navitimer we have seen from Breitling in a long time. Everything about this works for me: The design is fantastic, the case size is spot on, and it’s powered by a reliable Breitling chronograph movement. Breitling definitely seems to be on the right track the past couple of years, and I hope we will continue to see it develop this classic design language and, hopefully, go as far as to introduce more smaller-cased Navitimers into the collection.