When it comes to aviation timekeeping, Breitling has always been at the helm of innovation and creation. The company introduced its first aviator chronography to the world in 1936, and it hasn’t looked back since. Breitling’s aviator watch designs then changed the game of timekeeping above ground. That legacy has continued to thrive today, as Breitling continues to pave the way for modern aviator watchmaking. You surely don’t have to be a pilot to appreciate any one of these watches, and you definitely should consider owning one if you happen to love aviation enough to look for the best Breitling model. Here are the 5 best Breitling aviator watches of all-time.
1. Breitling Navitimer Ref. 806 1959
There’s a reason why this website refers to this Breitling as one of the best watches of all-time. This aviator watch certainly looks the part, and Breitling made sure of this. Every detail of the original 1959 watch has been painstakingly matched, and the result is just stunning to say the least. It’s also one of the best examples of the original Navitimer and what it was intended for. The all-black dial is a statement all on its own. There are so many things to look at here—you think you’d have to be a pilot to understand. But no, slowly you’ll notice the chronograph counters on the sub dials, and they’re just as useful. The dial here is uniquely protected by a domed Plexiglass; it’s not something you would see a lot of today. And thank goodness for that because this 806 Navitimer is one timepiece that’s unlike any other.
2. Breitling Co-Pilot Ref. 765 AVI 1953
Not all aviator watches are numerically busy on the dial. There are some, like the Breitling Co-Pilot Ref. 765 AVI, that finds its strongest quality in its subtlety. The reason why the Co-Pilot is referred to as such is because it was supposed to be the partner to the Navitimer. But don’t be fooled by that designation. The Co-Pilot 765 is a masterpiece in itself. What it lacks in complications it certainly makes up for in personality. The Co-Pilot is the rugged, reliable, and sometimes cooler little brother in Breitling’s aviator collection. The blue dial version with the quality brown leather is probably our favorite. It’s got a classic look to it that screams every day pilot but performs like the pilot that saved the day. The dial is protected by a domed Hesalite crystal and houses 3 sub dial chronographs. The watch is as vintage as it gets, and that’s what makes it almost timeless.
3. Breitling Navitimer 1
When you’ve got the designation of the number 1, you could be one of two things: the best or the first. For the Breitling Navitimer 1, the designation could very well mean both things. This Navitimer is Breitling’s first aviator. The watch changed the face of aviation—with the slide rule bezel that now has become an icon in the industry. There’s so much information on this dial that’s useful to the trained eye and mesmerizing for those just admiring the masterpiece. Aside from being the first Navitimer, this particular Breitling is a favorite in its class. Although it may no longer be the best today, there was a time when it was definitely at the top of the game. Given that the watch is still favored by many today is proof of the watch’s design quality. Breitling has since released a re-edition of the watch for those looking for a modernized version of a classic. We’d honestly take both the old and the new if we could.
4. Breitling Navitimer Super 8
The best thing about the Navitimer Super 8 is its historical reference. This modern Breitling was designed in reference to the Navitimer Ref. 637, a stopwatch that bomber pilots and crews used in World War II. The 637 watches were strapped onto the pilots’ thighs for better readability. You won’t have to strap the Super 8 anywhere other than your wrist, but you’ll still get the stopwatch function on this modern version. In fact, you’ll get all the practical elements of the 637 but just better and fresher. This watch is big and bold; its 46 mm case is stainless steel, but you can have one made in titanium if you prefer. The watch is presented on a brown NATO strap, another nod to its vintage background. You’ll also get all the functionality known of Breitling aviator watches—the bidirectional rotating bezel, the black dial, and luminescent hands. Of course, the most striking feature of the Super 8 is the prominent screw lock crown on the left side of the case. This feature evokes the look and feel of a stopwatch without interference or discomfort.
5. Breitling Exospace B55
We now present the most modern out of these watches, the Breitling Exospace B55. This Breitling aviator is so modern that you can actually connect it to your smartphone. In fact, it’s the first-ever chronograph that has the ability to do so. Kudos again to Breitling for continuing its legacies of firsts, but there’s more to it than just a story. It means improved timekeeping and improved functions. Accurate timekeeping is crucial in aviation, and modern smart technology allows for the most accurate telling. The rubber straps on the watch also give a different kind of comfort and stability. And if you’re looking for a modern dial, no other dial can top this one. The Exospace B55 combines both analog and digital features to complete a look that’s totally not what you would call vintage or classic. Soon enough, this model will be a classic on its own, and it’s setting up the stage for future watches to live up to.