The reason the Breitling Navitimer replica with black dial is such a popular watch today isn’t because of its origin story, but quite simply because there’s nothing else that looks anything like it. It’s a landmark in design, completely unmistakable—and every single part of it is functional. Some like the way it looks, and others really don’t—but there’s no denying that the reason it looks like it does is anything to do with anything but pure functionality.
Especially here with this fake Breitling Navitimer ref.806 1959 Re-edition, matched perfectly to the original—including the snap-on case back hiding the in-house calibre B09 and the plexiglass crystal replacing modern sapphire for the authentic look—there’s not a line or a number that’s superfluous. It may seem busy—and that’s because it is—but just like the inordinate mess that is an aircraft cockpit, it’s all there to do a job. The branding, including the winged Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association logo, is squeezed in as an afterthought, offering no compromise to what’s really important.
And that’s because, in a situation where the wrong calculation could result in disaster, there’s no room for frippery. The dial is jet black with clean white hands over clean white markers, the rotating bezel inverted to find the divide instantaneously. It may be cluttered, but it’s organised clutter. In fact, strip away the calculator functionality, and the basis of the design is the same as the later Omega Speedmaster, a watch lauded for its forward-thinking approach.
Remarkably, this Breitling Navitimer copy with stainless steel case, like the Speedmaster, denotes a moment in history when humanity took a significant step forward. For Omega, that was of course the moon landings, but equally important was Breitling’s part in the progression of air travel. The forties and fifties, after World War Two, saw enormous leaps in trans-continental flight, and the Navitimer was there to facilitate the professionals of this new industry.
It’s like a freezeframe in time, a capsule of information and experiences that date back to the promise of the 1950s, the hope of what was to come after such a long period of depression and war. It was as important in its day as the Apple Watch is today—if not more so—and it’s both the functionality of the watch and the way that drives its look that sealed its fate in the halls of legend.
Like the Speedmaster, like the Submariner, the high quality copy Navitimer is an icon of its industry, the watch that made waves and brought about a new future for aviation. Perhaps that seems like hyperbole, but the Breitling Navitimer replica really was cutting-edge technology for its time, a revolution in thinking after a stale fifty years of limited progression. The 806 1959 Re-edition celebrates that breakthrough by offering a facsimile of what that time might have been like to live first hand—and if you’re thinking a Navitimer might be the watch for you, this is perhaps the perfect place to start.