Breitling Navitimer Watches Review: Chrono-Matic, Montbrillant, Cosmonaute, World
Simply describing a Breitling watch collection a “classic” cannot be very informative: they are all classic, and so is the Navitimer. More useful can be a comparison that examines the differences – small, and not so small – between the collections, those touches that eventually make each line stand out. Without a doubt, the most characteristic feature of Breitling Navitimer watches is the slide rule and the vintage inspired design.
In each of the four main variations, Cosmonaute, Montbrillant, Chrono-Matic, and World, the combination of the slide rule, the direct 1940s aesthetic, and additional functions and utilities creates a unique timepiece. Breitling make a point of offering numerous selections of bands (leather, rubber, stainless steel, two-tone), and movement properties: the resulting assortment is so varied as to appeal to almost any taste.
Navitimer watches contain automatic (self-winding) calibers equipped with a chronograph, a second time zone, moon phase indicator, calendar, and other complications.
Like all Breitling mechanisms, they have been tested and officially
certified by the Official Swiss Chronometer
Containing several lines (Legende, Olympus, and Datora models besides the regular version) Montbrillant constitutes a category of its own – a microcosm within the Navitimer sphere. An important difference in this collection lies in the colors of the subdials: Breitling choose to paint the auxiliary measurement scales with the same tone as the rest of the face. Resulting is a layout that relies on harmony more than on contrast, creating a soothing alternative to the usually quite intense Navitimer dial grids.
Breitling use the hands and the indexes to further inject the Montbrillant with a drop of casual, even delicate character: styled in leave fashion, their expressive lines offset the complex numeric scheme. Movements remain a major source of power, as the Olympus adds on moon phase and calendar complications, and Datora a second time zone.
Navitimer World is a universal pilot's/traveler's watch: it displays a second time zone by using an analog central hand with a prominent red head instead of the more commonly used digital aperture. On the caseback it shows (engraved) timezones of major cities around the globe. It's a close relative of Montbrillant in terms of dial composition.
Cosmonaute features the more complex flyback chronograph, and displays a track of fat, luminous hour numerals (Arabic letters) – both in terms of aesthetic and function it anticipates several Professional, Colt, and Superocean models.
Perhaps even more telling is the fact that this watch was actually tested in space (“Cosmonaut” is the Russian variant for “Astronaut”), on Aurora 7 capsule in 1962 – making it a direct rival of the iconic Omega Speedmaster.
Chrono-Matic watches truly unwrap the potential hidden in the seeming simplicity of Navitimer design. The directness with which the dials confront the viewer is almost shocking, the effect, as the read-off, is immediate.
The slide rule and the complications are still there – perpetual calendar, moon phases, chronograph – complimented by straight flat hands and matching indexes. Breitling outfit the timepieces with a rubber molded bezel, and manufacture several pieces in red gold.