I recall seeing my first Breitling Navitimer. I was instantly blown away by its grandeur and a little intimidated by the details on the bezel. I didn’t know the purpose of the bezel slide rule, but it didn’t matter. I was drawn to it like a moth to a flame.
But, starting at around $7K, Navitimers are not really an option for many buyers. The solution? Many opt to first purchase a Breitling Navitimer homage watch.
Also, the size and weight of a pilot’s watch can be hard to get a feel for. So, it can be much more forgiving to buy a cheaper Navitimer alternative if you later decide they are not for you.
Like all great watches, the Navitimer arouses emotion in its wearers. This emotion can come straight from the design to less obvious factors such as the historical significance of the watch.
Celebrities have long appreciated the Navitimer - from Formula 1 legend Jim Clark to car enthusiast (and comedian) Jerry Seinfeld. Although it’s safe to say Jerry’s intimate affair with Breitling goes beyond the Navitimer.
The first Navitimer was produced in 1952 with the explicit intention of helping pilots navigate and time their movements. Hence the name ‘navi’ and ‘timer’.
The ability for pilots to quickly and accurately use a watch for their calculations was a very big deal.
The chronograph allowed pilots to navigate based on the principles of dead reckoning, which required pilots to keep a record of elapsed time.
Computers were not an option, so having a slide rule embedded into the bezel of their watch allowed for essential calculations such as airspeed, rate of ascent/descent, fuel consumption and more.
Consider how demanding it was to be a pilot. Mentally performing these calculations on the fly in addition to manually operating an aircraft. It gives me a mild panic attack just thinking about it. The Navitimer helped turn a cockpit from a pressure cooker to an oasis of calm. Okay, not quite, but it certainly made the pilot’s job easier.
Sadly, the original Breitling company did not survive the quartz onslaught of the 1970’s with the company being sold in 1979 (and again in 2017).
The Navitimer was relaunched during the 1980’s, which coincided with renewed consumer interest in mechanical watches. This clearly lives on to this day with the popularity of the modern Navitimer showing no signs of slowing.
Given the popularity of the Navitimer, it’s not surprising that many watchmakers have offered their own alternatives to the icon.
We’ve included our top Navitimer homages based on the following:
My preference is for a Navitimer homage to include a slide rule bezel. The inclusion of a ‘whiz wheel’ or E6B flight computer is so synonymous with the Navitimer that when the new CEO released the Navitimer 8 B01 in 2018 without it, many collectors and enthusiasts were outraged or at least confused.
The other major feature that should be included in a Navitimer homage is a chronograph. Ideally, the buttons will be big enough to allow for easy pressing if the pilot is wearing gloves.
How close you want your homage to pay tribute to the original comes down to personal preference. Our preference is for homage watches to take design cues from the original, but fall short of blatantly copying.
So, our ideal design is one where you can see the Navitimer influence, but that doesn’t mean it’s a direct replica in every way.
We’ve tried to incorporate picks from all ends of the price spectrum to ensure there’s something for everyone. The more affordable, the better.
There is an unavoidable trade off between quality and price. But, this shouldn’t mean you’re bombarded with a bunch of cheap replicas that will not last.
Enough on the process, here's our favorite Breitling Navitimer homages:
Casio has been taking design cues from iconic watch manufacturers for a long time and refining them into their own quality offerings. They’ve several worthy pilots watches in their collection, but our favorite Navitimer homage is the Casio Edifice EF527-1AV.
There are many design and functional nods to the Navitimer. The slide rule pilot's computer, chronograph with large buttons, dark black face, busy main dial, 3 sub dials and polished metal hour markers combine to give it a strong Navitimer presence.
It’s not a blatant replica though. The slide rule on the Edifice EF527D-1AV operates differently. It’s a fixed bezel with the internal ring controlled by the dial at 8 o’clock. This inner rotating slide ruler allows the same flight calculations to be made.
Also includes 3 sub-dials, but positioned at 6, 9 & 12 rather than the traditional 3, 6, 9 of Navitimers. In chronograph mode, the sub-dials of the Edifice feature minutes at 12, hours at 9 and 1/20 seconds at 6.
So, the maximum time duration that can be recorded is 11 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds. This should be more than sufficient for most day-to-day applications.
We also like the inclusion of a date window at 3 o’clock. It’s also slightly different from the Navitimer’s window position at 4:30.
The Edifice’s screw down crown is a welcome addition as it creates a tighter seal and prevents water damage. The Navitimer achieves the same locking result, but they use a non-screw locked, two gasket mechanism for the crown.
Casio has used a fairly standard, yet accurate, quartz movement with a battery that generally lasts 2+ years.
At 45.5 mm wide, it’s not super-large like some pilots watches. You get the feeling the watch actually needs to be this size to include all of the markings and features. Any smaller and readability may become an issue.
The main potential downside of this watch is for right-handed owners. We love the inclusion of the slide rule, but the screw to control it at 8 o’clock can be awkward. If you’re wearing it on the left hand, you need to move the right hand over the watch to operate the screw.
Overall, there is so much to like in this watch for the price. Casio has managed to squeeze a lot of functionality into the Edifice EF527D-1AV.
But, what really impresses us about this watch is the attention to detail up close. It looks and feels like a more expensive timepiece. Something that is quite rare at this price point.
Casio Edifice EF527D-1AV
The Invicta 6621 II gets our nod for the best affordable Breitling Navitimer homage. This is specifically for those looking in the sub $100 range.
Now, it’s hard to pack all of the features of a Navitimer into a watch that costs less than a bill. So there does need to be some concessions. The biggest is the lack of a flight computer or slide rule.
However, the bezel does rotate and there is a tachymeter scale on the inner bezel. So no, you won’t be able to use it for flying calculations like a Navitimer. But, were you actually going to?
The 3 sub-dials are set in the same symmetrical way as a traditional Navitimer at 3, 6 and 9. But, at 6 o’clock there is a day of the week sub-dial instead of the hour sub-dial of a Navitimer. This may actually make it more useful to some buyers.
The date window is positioned at the 4 o’clock, but can be a little difficult to read. Not a deal breaker, but it would be nice to see some more thought go into this complication or remove it altogether.
The deep blue cobalt face of the Invicta 6621 II is enticing. It works well with the large white Arabic numerals and hatched minute markers.
At less than $100, you’re going to find it difficult to get more features at a level of quality that makes it truly wearable. We think the Invicta 6621 II achieves this.
Does it live up to Breitling’s quality? No. But at 1/100th of the price, you’re getting some nice Navitimer-like features in a watch that won’t fall apart the moment you leave the store.
Invicta 6621 II Chronograph
The Hamilton Khaki Aviation X-Wind H77912535 is a quality Navitimer alternative in the sub $1,000 range.
We’ve awarded it our best premium homage because it has all of the right features: bezel flight instrument, chronograph & 3 sub dials. And, aesthetically it has a very balanced, pleasing design that demands attention. I can’t look away from it.
Let’s talk about the X-Wind function. Rather than include a slide rule flight calculator like the Navitimer, Hamilton has included a complication that allows pilots to calculate the cross-wind.
The screw down crown at the top left rotates the inner bezel, whilst the bottom left controls the measurements within the window. Here’s a more detailed explanation on calculating cross wind.
Now, are most wearers of the Hamilton X-Wind going to use it to calculate the cross-wind? Of course not. The same as most Navitimer owners have no idea how to use the slide-rule, nevermind the calculations required for flying a plane. I honestly don’t care. I love these complications because they draw upon my childhood fascination with pilots. They are aspirational more than practical.
Practicality does matter for the chronograph and sub-dials as wearers use these features. The sub-dial at 6 o’clock is for seconds and the 10 o’clock sub dial is 24 hour time for a 2nd timezone. These work in regular (ie non-chronograph) mode. The other sub dial at 2 o’clock labelled ‘chrono’ needs to be operated in chronograph mode and this counts the minutes.
The stainless steel bezel rotates, opening up more practical applications. This is what you want in a true tool watch.
All the crowns are screw-down, providing water resistance to 100m. I wouldn’t consider this a dive watch, but you certainly don’t need to worry about getting it wet.
There’s really not a lot to dislike about the Hamilton Khaki Aviation X-Wind. If you had your heart set on a mechanical watch, then the quartz movement may not be for your liking.
Overall, we recommend this watch for those that want to respectfully pay tribute to the Navitimer, but aren’t looking for a direct replica. This is a watch that is comfortable holding its own place in aviation history.
Hamilton Khaki Aviation X-Wind H77912535
I’m going to just come out and say it. If you’re looking for a Navitimer alternative at around half the price the original, then you should get a Sinn 903 St.
Referred to as the ‘Navigation Chronograph’, the Sinn 903 looks almost identical to a Navitimer for very good reason. Helmut Sinn purchased the rights to produce a model very similar to the Navitimer in the late 1970s and has been doing so since.
So you could say the Sinn 903 St is the OG homage to the Navitimer. The main similarities are pretty obvious. There’s the slide rule bezel with a logarithmic scale, chronograph functions, vintage pushers, 3 sub-dials, high contrast dial (dark middle and white outside) and angled lugs.
But, there are subtle differences that allow the Sinn 903 St to form its own personality. The slide rule is internal, controlled by the additional screw-down crown at 10 o’clock.
The other big differentiator is size. At 41 mm it’s considerably smaller than the more common Navitimer sizes of 43 and 46mm. This can be very welcome, especially for those that have medium-sized wrists and are afraid they can’t pull off a hefty 43mm+ watch.
At around $3.5K the Sinn 903 St does not fit into the affordable category. It’s still an expensive watch. But, at around half the price of a Navitimer, it’s definitely worth considering if you’re after a watch with very similar design and quality of a Navitimer, but with a story of its own.
Sinn 903 St
The most affordable Breitling Navitimer homage that made our list is a Gute Classic Automatic, with a Jaguar branding.
Let’s be honest, this is one of the many different Chinese brands that has come into the lower end of the market. You are not going to get close to Breitling quality here, but at this price you really shouldn’t expect it.
What you can expect is to pay a very small amount to test whether a large, heavy aviation inspired watch is really for you. Worst case scenario, you’ve outlayed less than $50 and you’ve learned that maybe they are not for you. The best case is you really enjoy wearing the Gute Classic and either continue wearing it or decide to upgrade to something you may enjoy even more.
A key feature of the Gute is the rotating slide rule bezel. This may be the cheapest watch with a slide rule bezel on the market. If you’re on the fence on whether you’ll use it or like the look of it, then this is your chance to try it out.
There’s also 2 sub-dials. One at 3 for the month and the other at 9 for the day of the week. There is a skeleton window at 6 instead of a 3rd sub-dial.
This is an automatic, so you won’t need a battery. However, the lack of a quality power reserve may mean you need to wind it if you skip a day or are not that active during the day.
Overall, if you’re very budget conscious, then the Gute Classic might be your best option. But, if your budget allows, you’ll get more enjoyment out of the feature-packed, yet still very affordable Casio Edifice EF527D-1AV.
But, for most of us, the sweet spot between features, value and quality can be found in the Casio Edifice EF527D-1AV. It's well below $200, so it's not a sizeable investment. But, it still allows you to get a good feel for owning a large, quality pilots chronograph watch with a flight computer.
If you're after something slightly more unique, then the Hamilton Khaki Aviation X-Wind delivers with style.
Comedian and actor Jerry Seinfeld likes to spend his considerable fortune on luxury cars and watches.
This combo can be seen in every episode of his series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Where he pairs a fellow comedian with a car that suits their personality. I don't think he pairs his watches to the guest comedian, but a little part of me hopes that he does.
Before getting into some of his more recent watches, let's backtrack a little to the glory days of Seinfeld. Jerry Seinfeld was, and remains, an avid Breitling fan-boy. His most popular watch during his sitcom days was a Breitling Chronomat with a bullet bracelet as seen below:
I would argue that Jerry's Breitling Cronomat has stood the test of time and would still look fantastic if he wore it today. I can't say the same for his 90's mullet-esque hairstyle...
Anyway, his love of Breitlings continued and can be best seen through his web-series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (CCGC), which is available on Netflix. It first aired on 2012 and has been building momentum ever since.
I watch CCGC primarily because I enjoy learning how different comedians think. I'm also a fan of Jerry's comedy and enjoy his casual interviewing style. These keep me coming back for each new episode. But what keeps me engaged within each episode are the watches worn by Jerry (and his guests) and the cars.
Need a recap of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee? Here's some highlights from the 2019 season to get you in the mood. You also get a sneak peak of several of Jerry's watches:
Jerry describes each car at the start of the episode, but not his watches. So, it's always fun to do some watch spotting throughout each episode and I've compiled some of these for you below.
Jerry sports a Breitling Aerospace in numerous episodes, including those with Ellen DeGeneres and Kevin Hart. Jerry's wearing a jacket so it's difficult to spot - especially when distracted by Ellen's Paul Newman Daytona!
Jerry's super distinctive Breiting Aerospace is an analogue-digital watch known as a 'super quartz' because of its high accuracy.
The pilot watch has many handy features such as a night vision goggle compatible backlight, 1/100s chronograph, countdown timer and secondary timezone. These are all operated via the crown by pushing, pulling, turning & turning fast.
In a way, the Aerospace take some practice and effort to master. Much like driving the manual 1977 Toyota Land Cruiser he chose for the episode with Ellen.
Jerry introduces the Land Cruiser, "It's basic, it's classic, it's durable, it's user friendly."
The Aerospace also ticks most of those boxes, so I'd say he's done a good job of matching it to the Land Cruiser.
See, I told you there were some links between his car and watch selections!
Jerry also wears his Breitling Aerospace in other episodes, including S5 E1 with Kevin Hart .
I enjoy the ridiculousness of the goggles as Kevin and Jerry cruise around in the 1959 Porsche RSK Spyder.
Clearly a favorite of Jerry's, he wore the Aerospace in his 2020 NetFlix special 23 Hours To Kill:
Jerry's love affair with Breitling continues as he chooses the Navitimer for several episodes, including the one below with Will Ferrell.
Jerry's Navitimer in this episode features white dials at 12, 6 and 9. This departs from the more common 3, 6 & 9 format mostly associated with new Breitling Navitimers.
Breitling still release a Navitimer with the 12, 6 & 9 dial layout that some prefer because it can appear more balanced. This is the Navitimer Chronograph 41. As the name suggests, it's also a little smaller than most Navitimers at 41mm, which some find more wearable than the larger 43 or 45 Navitimer models.
We've also covered our favorite Brietling Navitimer homage watches if you're after something more affordable.
The next Navitimer on Jerry's wrist is another Navitimer. This time it's a limited edition black steel Navitimer Cosmonaute.
The idea behind the Cosmonaute is that allows calculations to be made by pilots (or astronauts such as Lt. Cmdr. Scott Carpenter) directly on their wrist.
If you're not accustomed to how a slide ruler on the Navitimer works, they can look terribly complicated and even intimidating.
It's actually quite easy to use once you know how. Check out this video for a 90 second explanation:
The Breitling Navitimer Chronograph 41 pays tribute to the original Navitimer 1 with it's vintage looks prominent circular slide rule on the perimiter.
It mostly comes in stainless steel with several face color variations. But there is also a rose gold model that is considerably more expensive.
The slide rule allows on-the-fly airbone calculations to be made such as fuel consumption, climbing times & converts miles into nautical miles or kilometers.
The 41mm watch size has proven popular with those like Jerry that are after a classic looking watch that is unlikely to ever make a calculation like fuel consumption. This wearable size means it avoids the criticims levelled at some other Brietlings for being too big.
The movement is Breitling Calibre 13, based on the super reliable Valjoux/ETA 775. This external movement is different to other Navitimers, which has also required the sub dial layout to change to the less familiar 12, 6, 9 layout. But, I like this sub dial layout as it makes the watch look more well-rounded than some other Navitimers.
Jerry clearly loves his Navitimers and it's easy to see why. They make a statement but are still very functional and have a great history (and story).
Breitling Navitimer Chronograph 41
This vintage watch from Heuer really speaks to the car enthusiast in Jerry. Autavia's are very sought after by watch collectors as they are synonymous with F1 racing of the 60's and 70's.
One of the most sought after from the 1960's is the 'Jo Siffert'. Jo was a Swiss motor racer who won two races as a privateer and died in competition in 1971 at the age of 35.
Jerry confirmed his purchase of a Heuer 'Siffert' Autavia with this Instagram:
You can see Jerry sporting his Heuer 'Siffert' Autavia in in this episode with comedy legend Jerry Lewis (S10 E12):
In another rare break from his Breitlings, Jerry wears his G-Shock Rangeman in his episode with Zach Galifianakis (S10 E1).
His car of choice in this episode is a 1972 VW Thing, complete with roll bars. So, maybe he decided he needed something super tough just in case he went head over ass.
The Rangeman of choice is quite possibly a GPR-B1000, which comes with a GPS navigation system.
Either way, you can be sure his G-Shock was built for whatever Zach Galifianakis was going to throw at him during the 'Between Two Ferns' bit they do to close out the episode.
Watches worn by guests in Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee are included below too.
Guest Ellen DeGeneres who sported a super impressive Rolex Daytona 'Paul Newman' in season 10 episode 3:
We've previously covered Ellen's watches in more detail. She particularly loves her Rolexes and I would love to see her Rolex collection side-by-side with Jerry's Breitling collection.
Not to be outdone, Kevin Hart shows off his Rolex Sky Dweller.
The Rolex Sky Dweller is one of the most complicated mechanical watches in Rolex's impressive line-up. The pilot watch allows Kevin to view two time zones simultaneously. This would come in very handy with his busy acting schedule.
The other significant feature is the annual calendar, which only requires setting every year (to account for February's leap year) as opposed to every month.
The Rolex Sky Dweller comes in white gold & stainless steel versions. I'm not sure which version Kevin wears, but if there's an actor that can afford the white gold version, it is the incredibly successful Kevin Hart.
This is one of my favorite episodes of CICGC because of Barack's candid nature and surprisingly good sense of humor for a president.
This exchange between Jerry and a Secret Service agent is the best:
Jerry: "We're just going to run out for a quick coffee.
Secret Service: "I'm sorry, that's not possible"
Jerry: "I do this little show called Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. We'll be right back."
Secret Service: "You're a comedian with the president going nowhere. Back it up."
I will try and update this list of guest comedians and their watches too. But if you have a particular guest you want me to cover, then please let me know if the comments below!