Timekeeping
By Ed Estlow
on 7.9.13
Photo by Breitling, Sinn

If you’re like us, you have a long list of gear you’d love to own. But reality (almost) always steps in, along with bank accounts and eagle-eyed spouses, and your gadget desires remain unfulfilled. What’s a guy to do? Gear Patrol’s series Want This, Get This presents a lust-worthy piece of gear along with a more affordable alternative that scratches the same itch. This week, we head up into the wild blue yonder with two handsome pilot watches.

MORE WALLET-FRIENDLY ALTERNATIVES: 2009 Chateau Petrus vs 2011 Leonetti Merlot | IWC Pilot Chronograph or Alpina Startimer Chronograph | Sharp Elite PRO-60X5FD or Panasonic TC-PST60

Breitling Navitimer 01

The Breitling Navitimer has been the quintessential pilot watch for over 60 years. It wasn’t the first aviation chronograph, but it’s the watch we all think of when we think “pilot chrono”: the slide rule dial/bezel makes this watch instantly recognizable as a watchmaking classic. The Navitimer 01 ($9,020 on bracelet) is the latest iteration, powered by Breitling’s own 01 in-house movement with a 70 hour power reserve. White sub-dials on black, though not the first dial design, mirror the watch’s most iconoic version.

Wearing the Navitimer seems to give us access to an inner sanctum — the realm of the fighter pilot. We start calculating fuel consumption and average speed, converting miles to kilometers, doing long division (wait! what!?). Remember Goose telling Maverick in Top Gun, “C’mon Mav, do some of that pilot shit!”? With the Navitimer strapped to our wrist, we feel like we could “do some of that pilot shit” too, even if we don’t know precisely what it is.

Sinn 903 St

The watches of the company Helmut Sinn founded in 1961 are known first and foremost as tools: “watches at work”, so their website says. Form follows function and all that. The Sinn 903 St ($3,570 on bracelet) falls right in line with that philosophy.

Looking like a Navitimer homage, but with plenty of credentials all its own, the 903 is powered by the venerable Valjoux 7750 in tri-compax style orientation with date at 4:30. Placing the slide rule scale on an internal rotating bezel, controlled by a crown at 10 o’clock, is a design cue we love. At 41mm in diameter, the 903 is actually 2mm smaller than the Navitimer, and with a screw-down crown, the watch is water resistant to 10 bar versus the Navitimer’s 3 bar.

At about 40 percent of the Breitling’s list price, the 903 represents an outstanding value in a classic pilot chrono design. Now go do some of that pilot shit.

ADVENTURE IS ONE CLICK AWAY

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timekeeping-promo-logo-gear-patrolThis article is part of GP's fresh new face to TIMEKEEPING, a weekly chronicle on the utility, design, tradition and innovation of watches.