This model actually is the first split-seconds chronograph movement made in-house by Breitling. It is chronometer-certified and is an automatic movement which is visible through the sapphire caseback, which is a really pleasant touch. The finishing is elegant and the rotor, floating over the top of the chronograph works, is branded with the Breitling name. It is significant to stress that this movement was all made in-house, showing that Breitling is making serious moves in a market where people would consider the craftsmanship not just the mass-produced cheap watches. A rattrapante is one of the harder sophistications to engineer, and the replica Breitling deserves real credit for tackling it.
Apart from making its own in-house rattrapante, Breitling replica also equipped the start-stop mechanism with a special isolating mechanism to save power. To me, the Patek Philippe item is the only other watch to use something like this. Breitling’s mechanism has two patents and permits the movement to be much more effective. Basically, when you start the chronograph and stop the first chronograph hand, it is held in isolation, separated from the still-running train, creating less friction. When you press the button again, the hand is re-connected and keeps on as usual.
The Navitimer Rattrapante is acceptable in two cases, steel and red gold. It measures a whopping 45mm in diameter, so it still falls into ridiculously large territory. The case shape itself is similar to the original Navitimer, with the thin ridged bezel and turn-down lugs. The chronograph pushers are round and large enough for easy operation, just how you would want them to be, and the split-seconds function is activated by a button set into the crown. Action on all the functions is crisp and clean, though we got limited time with this piece at Baselworld (and are looking forward to exploring it further soon).
The brown dial falls right on trend with the faux-patina epidemic we saw at Baselworld. To be clear, I still have not determined how I feel about this trend – the watch manufactures are kind of damned if they do and damned if they don’t. People wanted vintage-inspired replica watches and got faux patina, which looks great but in reality just doesn’t feel as cool in theory.
The dial on the new Breitling Navitimer is very similar to a vintage tropical dial and features three registers and a date window. The date window is placed between four and five o’clock, which is probably my least favorite place to put a date window. I’ll let you all fight to the death on that down in the comments section though. The red gold model is available on a leather, crocodile, or rubber strap, while the steel has all these options plus a steel bracelet available as well.
The steel version is available with a linked bracelet, but the red gold version is only available on the bracelets. As a whole, I guess that this is a very nice release from Breitling. It indicates that the brand is taking real watchmaking more seriously, and in a big way. It is clear that time and effort was put into coming up with something exciting that mixes innovation and heritage, and even if this cheap watch is not for me on a personal level, I can see how others might want to order it.