Breitling's New Navitimer Pays Homage to the Most Iconic Jumbo Jet
Welcome to Dialed In, Esquire's weekly column bringing you horological happenings and the most essential news from the watch world since March 2020.
Watch lovers who know Breitling know too that flying—more than any activity—is closest to its heart. Generations have been drawn to its functional tool watches that were technical leaps forward in navigation for military, commercial, and private pilots alike. And then, for the rest of us, there’s the romance of flight, an impulse that sucks in pretty much everyone who has ever flown anywhere, one way or another. And most of us will have done it at least once in a Boeing 747, an iconic aircraft that is inspiring Breitling at a significant moment for the old bird.
A collectible and timely new take on the classic Breitling Navitimer, out this week, pays affectionate homage to the famed Queen of the Skies, which made its debut flight in 1969, meaning the 747 has been active in an astounding seven different decades. That long production history comes to a close, however, on January 31, when Boeing is scheduled to deliver its last ever 747, the 1,574th Jumbo to take to the skies.
Everyone—of course—loves a Jumbo. But it wasn’t always guaranteed that the first wide-body, long-range jet would be so popular with or familiar to air travelers. The 747 was at first developed exclusively as a cargo jet, and it would never have been adapted for passengers at all were it not for the abandonment of America’s costly SST aircraft program in the early 1970s. That distinctive bump you can see in the 747's profile was a leftover from attempts to design a cargo bird that could be loaded easily and quickly from the front. When the plans shifted to include passengers, the bump—and the extra space it afforded behind the raised cockpit—gave Pan Am’s then-CEO Juan Trippe an idea. Aviation’s first mid-air lounge was born in all its funky '70s finery (for first class passengers only, of course).
The Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43 Boeing 747 comes in a single edition of (you guessed it!) 747 pieces. Inside, the watch is powered by Breitling’s own in-house BR01 movement offering an impressive 70 hours of power reserve and chronometer certification. Outside, the colors match the original prototype 747 from ‘69, which had a livery of white, red, and bare metal. You don’t, however, need to be a plane spotter to appreciate Breitling’s 747 watch. The design, which features an off-white dial, three black sub-dials, and a red inner ring around the dial (where the name Boeing 747 is discreetly added), manages to nod to that first 747 while creating a fresh new take on the iconic Navitimer.
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