Watch & Jewellery
THE FLYING ACE: Breitling’s Navitimer
Text by Kee | Photos by Jeff Ip
Linan jacket and cashmere sweater (Brunello Cucinelli) and Navitimer B01 Chronograph (Breitling)
Linen and cotton trench coat, and linen and cotton shirt (Yohji Yamamoto) and Navitimer B01 Chronograph 46 (Breitling)
Cotton and silk blend sweater (Zegna) and Navitimer B01 Chronograph 46 (Breitling)
Embroidered silk blend jacket, silk corduroy gilet, linen trousers (Giorgio Armani), and Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43 (Breitling)
Wool flannel jacket (Dunhill), linen blend T-shirt (Zegna), and Navitimer B01 Chronograph 46 (Breitling)

Hong Kong singer Alfred Hui understands what it means to create something meaningful that will stand the test of time. In April, he released his 13th album, titled 2021, in a vinyl format that was limited to only 1,231 copies – a rare move for any artist this day and age. Here, we put two icons in the same frame: We snapped Hui wearing Breitling’s latest Navitimer range, which has been the bedrock of timekeeping for the last 70 years.

Let’s get this straight: Breitling’s Navitimer wasn’t available to the public 70 years ago. But what happened in 1952 helped birth one of wristwatches finest designs. That year, Willy Breitling was approached by the U.S. Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) to develop a wrist-worn chronograph for its members. And unlike today’s smartwatch tech, it was a challenge back then to cramp all of the necessary data into a wristwatch, a mechanical one at that. But Willy liked the challenge to be able to develop what was to be a flight computer for the wrist that could make important calculations on the f ly such as average speed, distance travelled, fuel consumption, rate of climb or descent, and even conversion of miles to kilometres – basically, a pilot’s or an aviation enthusiast’s dream watch. In order for these calculations to be made, he modified the slide rule feature of the 1942-designed Chronomat and integrated it as a rotating bezel for the Navitimer. This bezel was even designed in a way that allowed gloved hands to operate it. AOPA members got first dibs on this watch but it didn’t feature any Breitling branding on the dial until it was made available to the public in 1956. During the golden age of travel, it was not uncommon to see this wristwatch as part of the fit of commercial airline pilots. This wrist instrument became as cool as Tom Cruise’s aviators in Top Gun. That said, the Navitimer’s popularity soon stretched beyond the cockpit. It infiltrated Hollywood as big names like John Travolta, Jerry Seinfeld, and Brad Pitt became fans of the timekeeper as they have been spotted wearing it in public on numerous occasions. Having gone through more than its fair share of releases in the last seven decades – even one for space travel – today’s version of the Navitimer has continued to bank on the design that made it famous such as the circular slide rule, notched bezel, and triple chrono counters. For 2022, Breitling went all out on the Navitimer releases, which coincidentally is timed just right as most folks are taking to the skies again after a two-year hiatus. There are three sizes (41mm, 43mm, 46mm), two case materials (stainless steel or red gold), and more than a fair share of dial colours to choose from (13 to be exact). Those who are already well-stocked on Navitimers wouldn’t f linch at this selection but for anyone looking at this model proper for the first time, the chipper shades like sky blue and mint green are easy on the eyes and easy to catch on for those who don’t take their horology too seriously. Breitling, however, still treat the insides of this wristwatch with much seriousness. Running the entire operation is a self-winding B01 movement, its first in-house movement developed back in 2009. And who knows, you might learn to pilot your own plane after scoring one.

Photography Jeff Ip
Styling Sarah Lam
Hair Derek Li
Grooming Khaki Yan
Location Breitling boutique at Shop A, G/F. Entertainment Building, 30 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong

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