Much has been said and written about the Navitimer 8 collection since its presentation earlier this year. It is to date the most visible embodiment of the strategic orientations of the new management team of Breitling, with Georges Kern at its head. The fact that many speak about this collection is a first win for this team: Breitling is back on the front of the stage with a renewed ambition and increased visibility.
The path however is not strewn with rose petals. The main aesthetic characteristics of the Navitimer 8 collection have been widely disputed by some of the brand's aficionados who were surprised by the sleeker design, the shape of the bezel and, symbol among the symbols, by the removal of the logo wings. But the most common criticism related to the use of the name Navitimer for watches that did not have a slide rule. I can understand this, but Breitling's strategy is crystal clear and logical: the name Navitimer is so strong and ingrained in the minds of the general public that it would have been a shame to not use it in a larger scope. In addition, the aesthetic approach developed within the collection was consistent with one of the strategic axis of the brand: to win back a clientele less seduced by watches with a strong professional ambition, technical renderings and complex designs. Georges Kern insisted that Breitling should become more "inclusive" especially when it comes to segments of customers who had moved away from the brand. This is the purpose of the Navitimer 8 collection which can be considered as a reconquest collection.
The final version of the dial will incorporate the 1884 inscription below the Breitling word:
If the flagship model of the Navitimer 8 collection is the Chronograph featuring the in-house movement B01, the watch that could finally appeal to both new and old customers is the Unitime. In any case, that's my point of view and it's the watch I prefer in this collection. In fact, it has many assets that make it particularly attractive both from a technical and an aesthetic points of view.
First of all, this watch has its place in the Breitling catalog. The brand has produced for a long period travel watches and more recently, several models proposed the worldtimer complication either coupled with a chronograph or alone in the context of the Galactic Unitime. The great asset of the Navitimer 8 Unitime is to stay in the spirit of some historical models that proposed only this complication. Simplicity has always been the best ally of the worldtimer display because it already has a strong visual presence.
I must admit that I really like this complication. It is useful (allowing fast and simultaneous 24 timezone reading), convenient and even allows you to travel in your head by observing the long course of time on the different cities of reference of the globe. It is graphically attractive by offering two peripheral disks, one dedicated to the cities of reference of the timezones and the other dedicated to the 24 hours with a day & night distinction. A worldtimer watch always offers a more complex rendering and it is in this context that the refined approach of the Navitimer 8 collection works very well. The Breitling Navitimer 8 Unitime seems harmonious and balanced. Its 43mm size, which could be imposing in other contexts, seems to me consistent here because its allows to enlarge the disks and thus to make them readable. The date window would have been too close to the center with any other watch: it is ideally positioned on the dial of the Breitling Navitimer 8 Unitime at 6 o'clock.
The finishes of the dial, available in black or silver are excellent. The inclined flange (which is actually the cities of reference disk) and the applied logo, obviously without wings, contribute to the qualitative rendering. The silver dial offers very nice reflections but I have a preference for the black dial. It brings more energy and originality to the watch and it also has the virtue of reducing the perceived size. On the other hand, I prefer the colors of the hours disk of the silver dial.
The steel case is totally in line with the spirit of the collection. Thanks to the curved lugs, it is worn with comfort. I find again the typical "Navitimer 8" shape of the rotating bezel and the alternation of polished and brushed finishes that symbolizes the use of a manufacture caliber. This case is not very original but it is well executed. I would have liked, however, that the watch is less thick because the case height is close to 15mm which is a little too high for my taste, despite the water resistance of 100 meters. Finally, the sapphire crystal, slightly curved and featuring an anti-reflective double-sided treatment makes the dial data easily accessible.
The picture displays the rendering of the B35 movement on the Basel prototype. I'm looking forward to discovering the final version available in the boutiques.
A worldtimer watch is relevant when it is easy to use. This is the case with the Breitling Navitimer 8 Unitime thanks to the performance of the in-house caliber B35. This is a very interesting movement to analyze because it proves the clever lay-out of the caliber B01.
In fact, Breitling started from the caliber B01, removed the chronograph function (precisely because of this optimized architecture), thus transformed it into a three hand movement then added a specific worldtimer module. This module is fully operated with the crown. The city of reference (the one where you are currently and whose time is displayed by the main hands) is located at noon. If the owner of the watch moves in another timezone, he only needs to locate the city of reference of the new timezone at noon. Thanks to the independence between the two discs, the hours of the other timezones are automatically readjusted just like the main hour hand. Note that in the same way, the local date can be automatically set forwards or backwards what is not so simple to achieve from a technical point of view. Given its B01 origins, the caliber B35 has a logical (and significant) performance with a 4hz frequency, a generous power reserve of 70 hours and a chronometer certification.
The movement is visible through the see-through caseback which allows to assess the seriousness of its design. On the other hand, its own diameter is a bit too small for the size of the watch (even if we don't feel on the dial side) and its finish (on the model that I saw in Basel) is too austere in my opinion. I would have liked for example more ambition in the decoration of the winding mass.
Its final balance is certainly not perfect but the Breitling Navitimer 8 Unitime is nonetheless a successful watch. Moreover, I consider it as the most convincing watch of this new collection. Its complication pleases me, its waterproofness and luminescence give it a versatile character, its execution is irreproachable and its movement is qualitative and easy to use. In addition, the presence of the two peripheral disks gives a technical dimension to the watch which can satisfy those who regretted the removal of the slide rule. In the end, I am happy that this watch is named Navitimer. Because its complication invites me to travel (even if I stay in my flat!). It wasn't needed to demonstrate it but the proof is here! Even without its wings, the Breitling B still retains its aura and its power of seduction.
The Breitling Navitimer 8 Unitime is available in steel with a strap at a price of 7.400 euros and with a metal bracelet at a price of 7.700 euros.
+ the most aesthetically successful watch of the Navitimer 8 collection
+ the performance of the caliber B35
+ a very practical watch with an useful complication
+ the dial finishes
- the thickness of the case
- the decoration of the movement is too austere