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Breitling Navitimer Automatic GMT 41 Watch Review

Breitling Navitimer Automatic GMT 41

Another year, another ‘milestone’ anniversary, although given how much Breitling have raided their archives in the past couple of years that’s kind of to be expected – and honestly, the grand old age of 140 is something worth celebrating. Well, what better party guest than the watch that took Breitling’s early reputation up to the mile-high club, the ultimate working pilots’ watch, the Navitimer. A collection that has been revamped with new models including this Navitimer Automatic GMT 41.

Now, I’m still a fan of earlier Navitimers with their beaded bezels. There was something satisfyingly beautiful about the pieces, something you can still feel in the hype every time Breitling release a revival reference. And I don’t think I was alone in being unsure about the revamped Navitimer line two years ago.

Breitling Navitimer Automatic GMT 41

It was a big move, modernising the Navitimer – specifically the famous chronograph version. It shows a willingness to evolve in an industry where too many brands are overly precious about their iconic models. I mean, how much has the Speedmaster actually changed, even with its new white dial? Well, now those changes are trickling down to a broader Navitimer collection and while they say first impressions matter, I have to admit that this second version of the new design concept is lovely. In fact, in some ways I prefer it to the original.

Now, bear with me. Rather than simply downsizing the chronograph version, here we have the new non-chrono GMT, the dual timezone counterpart to the equally new three-hander. 41mm might be too small to really work with the addition of three subdials and that famous slide rule bezel, but by taking them out the entire face has so much more room to breathe.

Breitling Navitimer Automatic GMT 41

Here that face is a gorgeous deep green, a world away from Breitling CEO’s favourite pistachio colour. Sure, it’s not exactly the kind of dial you expect on a tool watch, but without the chronograph I’d argue that this is much more of a passengers’ timepiece – and given the feel of the watch, said passenger is a regular in First Class.

Breitling Navitimer Automatic GMT 41

It’s not just the combination of that sunburst green dial and the 41mm rose gold case, though that classic combo definitely has something to do with it. But it’s basically a smaller version of the B01 46 in that regard, right down to the contrasting black outer half of the slide rule. Here though the dial has layers – metaphorically and literally.

The central part with its pared-back 24-hour scale is raised, with the date window (something that got lost in the chronographs) clear and visible as an outcrop at six o’clock. Around that are the polished rose gold indexes that feel slightly chunkier, though without accurately measuring I’ll put that down to being a bit more bunched up on the smaller dial. Finally we have the signature ‘analogue flight computer’ of a slide rule, picked out in the green of the inner scale, black of the outer scale and enough white lines to keep JPMorgan Chase happy.

Breitling Navitimer Automatic GMT 41

Because Breitling don’t need to clearly lay out three additional sets of indicators, they’ve actually managed to change the Navitimer dial in a way that really works well and breathes some new life into things. The different layers give the whole watch much more wrist presence than you might expect from 41mm, as does – and I can’t believe I’m saying it – the notched bezel. It’s less elegantly quirky, but the beaded look just wouldn’t work here where this much more modern, streamlined version makes for a great-and grippy finishing touch.

Breitling Navitimer Automatic GMT 41
Breitling Navitimer Automatic GMT 41

On the wrist it’s solid and weighty. Sure, it’s 41mm across but it’s by no means a small watch, especially with this much hefty rose gold going on. It’s 11.65mm high which is thin enough to slip under a shirtsleeve but not exactly ultra-thin, matching the cabin (but not cockpit) ready look. Here we have it on the strap which, being new, is very stiff, but if you don’t mind shelling out for an extra ingot of gold the bracelet is gorgeous.

Breitling Navitimer Automatic GMT 41

Inside is the Breitling Calibre 32, a mainstay of the collection at the moment and one that has decent specs behind it: 4hz frequency, 42-hour power reserve and a COSC certification all add up to a good, if not particularly flashy, two-timing movement. It’ll keep you ticking on time here and across the pond at once. It is a shame that it’s only protected by 30m of water resistance, which these days feels low for anything without an open dial, especially in something that has tool watch in its DNA. So, hope even more than you normally do for no water landings.

Breitling Navitimer Automatic GMT 41

Much as I have my reservations about the total revamp of the Navitimer Chronograph, here that same idea works perfectly. It’s not only great to see a non-chrono version in a wearable size – I’m not including those 36mm and below women’s pieces; who would? – but the Navitimer Automatic GMT might just be one of the best versions of the genuinely iconic watch since it relaunched. And maybe, just maybe, before then, too.

Price and Specs:

Model: Breitling Navitimer Automatic GMT 41
Ref: R32310251L1P1
Case: 41mm diameter x 11.65mm thickness, 18k red gold
Dial: Green
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Breitling calibre 32, automatic, 21 jewels
Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 42h
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, GMT
Strap: Black alligator leather with 18k red gold pin buckle
Price: £12,850

More details at Breitling.

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About the author

Sam Kessler

Legend has it that Sam’s first word was ‘escapement’ and, while he might have started that legend himself, he’s been in the watch world long enough that it makes little difference. As the editor of Oracle Time, he’s our leading man for all things horological – even if he does love yellow dials to a worrying degree. Owns a Pogue; doesn’t own an Oyster Perpetual. Yet.