Watchmakers have been struggling to create brands that draw respect from critics and fans. That’s mostly because none buys wristwatches as a time-keeping tool, instead, they buy it to bolster their social status. People buy watches they can display before their friends and receive a favorable comment or give it out as a gift and be appreciated for their thoughtful gift. One of the watch brands that has faced criticism for not having a great design is Breitling. While it has had a successful past, it’s still ranked fourth in terms of sales volume within the US.
That’s set to change as we progress through 2018, thanks to the new CEO, Gorges Kern. In the past, critics have said that the brand’s watches have a shiny finish, gargantuan sizes, and “busy” dials, but now Kern said he will look into that feedback and use to create new watch designs. He made the announcement after he launched the first Breitling watch made under his watch, where he also discussed some of his plans for the brand’s future.
Some of the issues he has given top priority will include simplifying and revamping the Breitling lineup, ad campaigns, and take a deeper look at its archives to draw inspiration for its next watch designs. It’s with that in mind that Kern paid Fred Mandelbaum a visit to take a look at his extensive collection of Breitling watches. Mandelbaum is a well-known Breitling watch collector, which is why Kern even decided to bring that collection for the event.
He also admitted that indeed some of the Breitling watches had an extra shiny “finish” and some were even “tacky.” He concluded that he is going to make changes that will include a change in design and positioning of the watches to give them a more artistic design.
In that regard The Breitling Navitimer 8 B01’s design is unique, and unlike any other watch in the market. It draws its inspiration from the clocks found on aviation instrument panels of planes from the 1930s and 1940s, popularly known as the Breitling 8, because of their 8-day movement designs.
While many people believe that the Navitimer name was used only on the slide rule chronograph, it was actually used on many other Breitling watches. Moreover, with the new paradigm that Kern is imposing, there is a general agreement that most if not all Breitling pilot’s watches will be of the Navitimer lineage.
Looking at the new Navitimer 8 Chronograph, the difference between its design and what we are used to, is so great that it feels like it jarrs memories of former Breitling watches. One of the first things you will notice is that it doesn’t have a scale or slide rule on its dial, it has a minimalist rotating bezel, and has a single subtle arrow that can be used to track elapsed time by setting i opposite the minute hand.
Other notable differences include an open space on the dial and a more simplified Breitling logo. You won’t see the winged “B,” or fancy text, other than the sans serif font used to display the Breitling name. While that dial design may appear somehow generic, it actually represents that original dials used on the Breitling 8 board instruments.
Everything from the numerals’ font, small ticks and triangles extending to the dial around the minute track, as well as the five-minute numerals located between the track and hour markers, are a representation of the Breitling 8 board instruments. The hands are given a faceted-dagger finish, and covered with SuperLuminova paint to increase visibility when viewed under low light conditions, or in total darkness.
The new cases measure 43mm and are made of DLC “Blacksteel,” rose gold, or 316L steel, making them much smaller than the past Breitling watches. Moreover, the case is a mix of polished surfaces and matte, as well as a display caseback. You will also notice the shorter lugs with a curved-down design, which make them more wearable. The pump pushers and crown are well sealed, which makes the watch water resistant for up to a depth of 100 meters. The bezel has been made with a coin edge, which gives it an appearance similar to that of vintage instruments.
The Breitling Navitimer 8 B01 uses the in-house B01 caliber, and a column wheel movement with a power reserve capacity of 70 hours. Its contrasting dials of bronze and white, or black and white, have a 3-6-9 subdial layout, a design that will be standard for all Breitling watches from now on. They will be worn using a crocodile strap or metal bracelet. If you choose the crocodile strap, the price tag is $7,600, and if you choose the bracelet, the price tag will be $8,350.
Overall, Kern has set his mind on making Breitling the best wristwatch brand, and we are already seeing some results. We hope that you look forward to more of those outstanding changes, as much as we do.