Although the Georges Kern led-Breitling, unveiled their newly revamped strategy for the iconic watch manufacturer in February, the world got a taste of additional releases and strategies at Baselworld 2018! Tom Dixon at Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers got the inside scoop.
Until recently, Breitling was synonymous to solely aviation and exceptionally large, flashy watches, with an occasional venture into motorsports and diving (Bentley Partnership and Superocean Range). Now, Breitling will be focusing on a three-tier approach: Air, Land and Sea, announcing various partnership with celebrities and organizations over the week. A common theme we’ve noticed is a return to the pragmatic “instruments for professionals” approach that caught the hearts of many watch enthusiasts as well as a downsizing of watch size and SKUs available. More importantly, no more “Betty on the Bomb”.
AIR: Breitling will still continue its partnership with the beloved Breitling Jet Team and continue to produce watches designer for and inspired by the skies. There were two releases that truly stood out at Basel which were the Navitimer Super 8 and two new sizes in the Navitimer 1 collection, the Navitimer 1 Chronograph 41 and the Navitimer 1 Automatic 38.
Original Breitling Super 8 Advertisement
Original stopwatch worn on the thigh of a bomber
The Navitimer Super 8, “inspired by a thigh-worn stopwatch used by bomber pilots” designed by Huit Aviation, Breitling’s aviation instrument department. Although there is no stopwatch on the Super 8, the aesthetic similarities are unmistakable, with the oversized crown on the left and large notched bezel. The Super 8 is powered by the B20 movement which is actually a Tudor based MT5612 COSC-certified movement used in Tudors Pelagos and Black Bay watches. This movement came to fruition from the partnership between Tudor and Breitling last year. The watch is by far the largest watch released under Georges Kern, coming in at 46mm. It comes in either stainless steel with a black dial or titanium with a green dial.
Breitling Navitimer Super 8 - 46mm Titanium Case, Green Dial
The Navitimer 1 Chronograph 41, is the closest homage to the original model released in 1952, being that it is the same size (41mm) and continues to boast the iconic circular slide rule, chronograph and date functions. While it does not feature the in-house B01 movement like its larger counterparts, the powerhouse of this watch is still COSC certified and relentlessly trustworthy and accurate.
Breitling Navitimer 1 Chronograph 41
The other exciting aviation watch release by the brand comes in the form of a stripped down and spruced up Navitimer 1 Automatic 38. The Navitimer 1 Automatic 38, looks familiar with the circular slide rule, but has shrunk and ditched the chronograph to poise as an elegant dress watch that can be worn by men and women alike. Although the watch is not powered by an in-house movement, it is still COSC-certified. This model comes in either a steel case (with a black or blue dial) or two-tone case (with a cream color dial). Nonetheless, this watch is sharp!
Breitling Navitimer 1 Automatic 38 - Stainless-Steel, Black Dial
Breitling Navitimer 1 Automatic 38 - Steel and Rose Gold, Cream Dial
SEA: Although this Baselworld focused heavily on the newly launched Navitimer 8 collection (see below) as well as the Navitimer 1’s, Breitling did make some exciting announcements regarding its sea arm.
Ocean’s Conservancy: Probably one of the most respected announcements coming from Baselworld was Breitling’s pledge to support the Ocean’s Conservancy, a non-profit that has led coastal-cleanup operations in 153 countries and inspired more than 12 million people to pick up nearly 230 million pounds of trash for more than 30 years.
Now, back to watches, Breitling will be updating the Superocean Heritage II, a watch originally launched in 1957, in the 44mm size. Prior to Baselworld 2018, the Superocean Heritage was available in 42mm or 46mm. The new size features the B20 movement, a Tudor based MT5612 COSC-certified movement, with a ceramic bezel. Available in a steel or steel and gold case, this watch is a legacy of adventure for the modern-day explorer.
Breitling Superocean Heritage II 44mm - Steel & Rose Gold
In addition, the Superocean Heritage II B01 Chronograph 44 will be receiving the manufacturers in-house B01 chronograph movement originally launched in 2009.
LAND: There was no direct “land” specific watches that were truly unveiled at Baselworld this year (aside from several models in the Navitimer 8 collection, i.e. Day-Date), Breitling did announce a partnership with Norton Motorcycles earlier in the year. These two lifestyle brands converge on the crossroads of a similar history, materials used and high-performance, entrepreneurial products. In other news, it appears that the Bentley partnership will be continuing.
Breitling Announces Partnership with Norton Motorcycles
Breitling Squadrons: “Rooted in the dynamic values of Breitling – action, purpose and pioneering spirit”, Breitling has created three squads that represent groups of individuals who embody this purpose and are considered masters of their professions.
Charlize Theron - Acadamy Award Winning Actress
Cinema Squad: sharing the DNA with moviemakers, Breitling watches and great cinema go hand-in-hand. Each require meticulous attention to detail and conjure up dreams and aspirations worth achieving. From Sean Connery wearing a Breitling in his role as James Bond in Thunderball in 1965 to modern day actors who sport these incredible timepieces. The Breitling Cinema Squad is comprised of Brad Pitt, Charlize Theron, Adam Driver and Daniel Wu.
Explorer Squad: Breitling’s DNA has long shared ties with explorers, from the conquest of the skies to manning the world’s first non-stop circumnavigation onboard a hot-air balloon. These individuals not only represent exploring new boundaries but also leaders in social responsibility. They are: Bertrand Piccard, David de Rothschild and Inge Solheim.
Surfers Squad: Although the common word association to Breitling is aviation, the manufacturer does have rich ties to diving, including the highly regarded Superocean. The Surfers Squad are individuals not only further cements Breitling’s ties to the ocean but also its commitment to protecting the biodiversity of the world’s oceans and beaches. These individuals are: Kelly Slater, Stephanie Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons.
Navitimer 8 Collection: In case you missed the unveiling of the Navitimer 8 collection earlier this year, this collection represents Georges Kern’s first watch line launch as Breitling’s CEO. Drawing the name from the Breitling logo, 8-day movements sans wings, as well as the aviation instrument department, this range is comprised of 5 models.
Breitling 8 (Huit) Day Movement
Navitimer 8 B01 Chronograph 43: As the flagship model of this range, which drew a lot of slack originally due to the stark contrast of the beloved Navitimer model, continuously produced since 1952 (and will still be with the announcements of the Navitimer 1 Chronograph 46, 43 and 41 models and Navitimer 1 Automatic 38 at Baselworld). This model has grown on many critics as more information became available. Although it is powered by the same movement and features similar complications, the watch is quite different in terms of aesthetics. With a brushed steel and bi-directional bezel without a slide rule, it is a highly versatile watch that is wearable regardless of the occasion. Housed in a 43mm case, the Navitimer 8 B01 Chronograph 43 comes in three variations, black dial with a steel case, blue dial with a steel case and a bronze dial with an 18k rose gold case.
Breitling Navitimer 8 B01 Chronograph 43
Navitimer 8 Chronograph: A very similar variant of the aforementioned Navitimer 9 B01 Chronograph 43, this is different in terms of the layout of the sub-dials, day-date window and the movement, an ETA-Valijoux 7750 (which yields a lower price-point). This model comes in 3 different variations, a stainless-steel case with a blue dial or black dial, or a DLC coated “blacksteel” case with a black dial.
Navitimer 8 B35 Unitime 43: As we mentioned before, Baselworld 2018 was a year for GMT/Travel watches. While the Unitime isn’t exactly a GMT, it does offer instant readability of 24 time-zones at a single glance! Unofficially replacing the Transocean and Galactic models, this model is powered by the in-house B-35 movement, which not only allows simplicity when changing time-zones, but also maximum reliability (70hr power reserve and a 5-year international warranty). This watch comes in either a black dial or “mercury silver” dial.
Breitling Navitimer 8 Unitimer B35
Navitimer 8 Day-Date: In the past, Breitling has been criticized often of having busy dials, this line, particularly this model confronts this notion head on! The 41mm, brushed satin steel case watch offers a sporty and affordable take on a traditionally upscale style of watch. Water-resistant to 100 meters, the watch is wonderfully resilient in terms of reliability and wear. Available in a black or blue dial.
Breitling Navitimer 8 Day-Date
Navitimer 8 Automatic: Sometimes simple is better, which is exactly the case with the Navitimer 8 Automatic. 41mm in diameter and 10.7mm in height, this model continues to draw the aesthetic of the overall range while offering maximum legibility and practicality. Available in stainless steel in blue or black dials or a DLC blacksteel case with a black dial.
Breitling Navitimer 8 Automatic 41
Other novelties include a satin-brushed Chronomat 44, which returns the watch to its working roots versus the polished look. Dials are available in a blackeye-blue or blackeye-gray.
Breitling Chronomat 44 B01 - Blackeye-Blue
There were new iterations of the Breitling Navitimer 1 B01 43 and 46 Chronograph dial colors including a stellar 18k rose gold case with a white dial and black sub-dials (46mm) and a stainless-steel case with a blue dial and black sub-dials (43mm)!