Breitling’s Navitimer Gets An Impressive Split-Seconds Chronograph

The Navitimer B03 Chronograph Rattrapante 45 features one of watchmaking’s most prestigious complications.

By Victoria Gomelsky 28/01/2020

In a roll call of the 20th century’s most notable wristwatches, the 1952 Navitimer, a “navigational timer” for pilots and the oldest mechanical chronograph in continuous production, hardly needs a brand name to precede it. Anyone with a passing interest in mechanical watches knows the maker: Breitling.

So it’s no surprise that the Swiss firm continues to revisit what is arguably its greatest hit. What is surprising is the horological complexity Breitling has achieved with the model’s newest iteration, the Navitimer B03 Chronograph Rattrapante 45, whose namesake feature, the rattrapante, aka the split-seconds chronograph, is one of watchmaking’s most sophisticated complications.

Breitling Navitimer B03 Chronograph Rattrapante 45

Breitling Navitimer B03 Chronograph Rattrapante 45 Courtesy of Breitling

The feature, which allows wearers to measure two elapsed times simultaneously, is exceedingly difficult to manufacture. That explains its relative rarity. Only a handful of watchmakers produce rattrapante watches in-house and they include some of the most prestigious firms in the industry: A. Lange & Söhne, IWC Schaffhausen and Patek Philippe chief among them.

Equipped with the in-house B03 caliber, the model is produced at Breitling’s Chronométrie facility in La Chaux­ de­ Fonds. A transparent sapphire caseback provides a glimpse of the movement, which has a power reserve of around 70 hours and comes with a five-­year warranty. (The company, which became the official supplier to Britain’s Royal Air Force in 1936, has all of its movements certified as chronometers, or high-precision watches, by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute.)

Breitling Navitimer B03 Chronograph Rattrapante 45

Breitling Navitimer B03 Chronograph Rattrapante 45 Courtesy of Breitling

The Navitimer’s signature aesthetic feature is the circular slide that rings the dial, allowing aviators to perform a range of analog calculations should their onboard computer systems fail.

The rattrapante version, which retails for approx. $40,600, comes in a handsome 45mm 18-karat red gold case that perfectly complements the Stratos Gray dial.

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