Do you know that feeling of instinctively disliking something, but once you lay your hands on it you can’t help loving it? That feeling perfectly explains the emotional roller-coaster I had with the Breitling Navitimer.
Let me start by explaining why I wasn’t a fan. I found the concept of an all-polished case on a steel tool watch a horrible idea. Maybe I am a bit old-fashioned in that regard, but polishing on a tool just seems a bit absurd. After handling the watch for a while though I found the case to be significantly less tacky than I feared, mainly due to the fact that you don’t notice it as much due to the massive dial.
Moving to the dial, it really is massive, but for good reason as I was to find out. The size is necessary due to the sheer wealth of information displayed. Furthermore, the dial is incredibly designed, more on that later.
I was also no fan of the domed crystal. Not only does it limit the viewing angle but it just doesn’t feel right, especially considering its size, which gives it the feeling of a magnifying glass. Fortunately, I was yet again proven wrong by Breitling as it wore much less obtrusive than anticipated.
One thing which to this day I fail to appreciate is the operation of the crown. Even after several days I didn’t manage to get comfortable with the fact that the bezel and the chronograph pushers came into the way of operating the crown. Now of course you don’t operate the crown too often so it isn’t that noticeable, but when I did It became uncomfortably apparent.
Unfortunately the lume is also quite weak due to thin numerals. I understand that space is scarce, regardless though I felt disappointed that within five minutes of darkness I was left with a close to illegible watch.
Despite all of this though the Navitimer managed to win me over. To be fair much of this had to do with the dial of this specific piece. Classical worn with a black dial with white sub dials the version I was lucky enough to get my hands on had an all white dial with a slight touch of champagne. Being a sucker for white dials, was a joy to stare at for hours.
Another quirk which really spoke to me was the incredibly satisfying sound whenever the watch is wound. Now I am aware that loud movements are usually not considered to be very attractive in the watch world, but in this case it made me feel connected to the watch in a way very few other watches have achieved.
If this watch taught me anything, then it is the universal applicability of the saying “never judge a book by its cover”.