The History of the World’s Most Famous Pilot’s Watch
There is perhaps no wristwatch still in production that's more associated with flight and pilots than the Breitling Navitimer.
There is perhaps no wristwatch still in production that's more associated with flight and pilots than the Breitling Navitimer.
How to read a watch's bezel, be it a simple count-up, count-down, slide-rule, tachymeter, 12-hour or more.
We review the history of the Seiko 5, a 50-year-old series of watches that's spawned affordable innovation and loads of offspring.
These waders are feature rich, designed with maximum fishing comfort in mind. You’ll find a front zipper, suspenders, a wading belt, gravel guards, articulated knees, zip-up micro-fleece hand warmer pockets and a variety of other pockets for every accessory imaginable. They’re made of tough, lightweight, four-layer SurgeShell nylon fabric with 37.5™ Technology by Cocona®. This means the inner surface of the SurgeShell fabric has revolutionary patented particles embedded in its fibers. These particles are designed to soak up the moisture that collects inside waders and dry fast – up to five times faster than other breathable waders.
No, it’s not another GMT, and it’s much more than a timer. The Patek Philippe Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph is a lovechild combining its parents' best traits: a truly utilitarian timepiece for the globetrotter skipping through timezones.
The most complicated watch Patek Philippe has ever made without the aid of a computer is going on the auction block again at Sotheby’s in Geneva, Switzerland this November 11. We break down the incredible timepiece and its strange story.
Leo Padron grew up a tinkerer, then turned his focus to fixing his grandfather's broken wristwatch. He succeeded...and then he started building his own. We talked to Padron, who today helms Padron Watch Co., a successful startup building three unique watches out of Minneapolis.
From the Archives: A century or more ago, watchmaking in the United States was the equal of any in the world. Unfortunately, in the intervening years that industry has largely gone away. Yet there are those who would like to see the industry and its uniquely American timepieces return, people who believe “Made in the USA” should be a label as valuable -- and meaningful -- on a watch dial as “Swiss Made” is today. Could such a thing happen?
Robert Loomes & Co., makes gorgeous watches in small, limited editions of 50 or 100 pieces. He joins the growing cadre of watchmakers who are pushing British watchmaking as far as possible, along with Christopher Ward, Roger Smith, and the brothers English.
The new Longines Avigation Watch Type A7 differs visually from the 1930s original (most notable for its 45 degree canted dial) only in minor dial details. Other features remain: the 49 millimeter diameter, the hinged case back, the Breguet hands, and Arabic numerals. We break it down.
From the Archives: When he was asked about the prominent bit of bling (or "B'ling") on his wrist, a former test pilot for the U.S. Air Force replied, “I need a Navitimer so I can do my calculations!” That brief anecdote may tell you something about how the Breitling Navitimer is viewed by the guys who fly jets for a living. The bit about calculations would be in reference to the Navitimer’s most recognizable feature, the "navigation computer" -- a circular slide rule located on the rotating bezel that a pilot can use to handle all the calculations they need to make when planning a flight. We examine the pilot's watch.
Just what are you looking at when you flip over your Tissot or Swiss Army watch and peer through the case back crystal at that ETA automatic? It's time to learn. We break down the parts of an ETA automatic watch movement.
Martenero is an affordable new brand based in New York. Founders John Tarantino and Matt O’Dowd met several years back in a chance encounter on a street corner in Madrid, Spain. A friendship followed, and so did a watch brand.
Back in 1983, the first Swatch quartz watch had 51 components. For a 30th anniversary celebratory piece, Swatch took up the challenge to make a mechanical watch with the same number of parts. This is the Swatch Sistem51, a revolution in mechanical watches that hasn't yet come to American shores. We recently got our hands on one.
The problem of longitude -- where you are on the planet, east-west speaking -- was the thorniest puzzle of the day, or really, of the 18th century. In 1714, the British government offered the huge prize of £20,000 (roughly £2 million today) to anyone who could solve the longitude problem once and for all. Enter a self-trained carpenter from Yorkshire, John Harrison.
The use of stopwatches to time Olympic events began at the first Modern Games in 1896 and ended in the 1960s with the coming of electronic timekeeping. Touch pads were quicker than timers’ thumbs and electric eyes became more reliable than human eyes. But these workhorse timers that fit so nicely in hand deserve more than a passing note. We take a look back at some Olympic moments during the golden era of mechanical timekeeping.
Of all the brands of the Richemont luxury group to exhibit at the annual SIHH in Geneva, Greubel Forsey may be the most ambitious and experimental. Their hand-wound Tourbillon GMT has been out a few years -- 2011 saw its initial release in pink gold and the white gold version came out a year later -- but this year it was released in weighty platinum as a truly fascinating timepiece. We break down the asymmetrical beauty.
Skeleton watches, or squelettes in French, have been made since the pocketwatch days and typically are ornate, baroque displays of artistry. The Tissot T-Complication Squelette ($1,950) offers a far more modern and industrial take on this classic genre. We got our hands on one for a week and let it get under our skin.
The new Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Altichron ($638) is a wild upgrade over the original that launched the Citizen Promaster series in 1989. The new piece has appropriate updates for the new millenium -- color, size, Citizen's Eco-Drive tech -- but it continues the tradition of looking (and proving itself) every millimeter a tool watch. We break it down.
A century or more ago, watchmaking in the United States was the equal of any in the world. Unfortunately, in the intervening years that industry has largely gone away. Yet there are those who would like to see the industry and its uniquely American timepieces return, people who believe “Made in the USA” should be a label as valuable -- and meaningful -- on a watch dial as “Swiss Made” is today. Could such a thing happen?
In celebration of its upcoming 140th anniversary in 2014, Piaget recently announced the upcoming release of its new Altiplano 900P (~$20,000). True to Piaget’s ultra-thin form, the hand-wound 900P has set another record: it's the thinnest mechanical watch ever made. We break down this incredibly slender timepiece.
Stories follow Michael Kobold everywhere. The founder of Kobold Watches, which declares that its watches are "conceived, designed, assembled and tested in USA from domestic and imported components", has turned his immodest passion for timepieces into a successful business and made relationships with great men -- Ranulph Fiennes, Gerd-Ruediger Lang, the late James Gandolfini -- along the way. We were lucky enough to catch up with him recently to hear some tales and catch up on his blooming horological business.
In case you hadn't noticed, fly fishing hasn't gone away since its A River Runs Through It phase. Besides the fresh air, gorgeous scenery and Zen-like calm that comes from a perfect cast, there's all the cool gear: rods, vests, boots, all made especially for the angler. It was only a matter of time before someone made a fly fishing watch, and this is it: the Montana Watch Company’s BFW-3 ($19,575), part of their Bridger Field Watch line.
We know you competitive types. For timing grocery runs down to a thousandth of a second, the Bulova Precisionist Chronograph ($799) is one of the most impressive timepieces out there. More specifically, the Precisionist is one of the most accurate watches that doesn't receive regular timing signals from a remote atomic clock. We break it down.
If you’re a watch nerd, you might recognize the name Carl Evans. He’s the brains (and hands) behind British boutique watch strap brand GasGasBones. Like watch obsessives everywhere, Carl has dreamt for years of creating his own brand of watches. This year he’s finally done something about it. Informed by his 24 years of service in the Royal Air Force, Evans's first release is a convincing pilot's chronograph, the 6B MK1 ($2575).
Thomas Mercer recently released the limited edition (25 pieces) Thomas Mercer Legacy Shackleton Epic ($139,000) marine chronometer to commemorate the centennial of Shackleton’s 1914-1916 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Specifically, the Legacy acknowledges what is widely acknowledged as the greatest small-boat journey ever accomplished: the voyage of the 22.5-foot James Caird across 800 nautical miles of the nastiest water on the planet.
While we could list fascinating mechanisms devised by ingenious watchmakers 'til the cows come home, there's one particular complication that's rarely mentioned: dead seconds, where the second hand advances in increments of a whole second rather than a half or a quarter of a second. The Grönefeld One Hertz ($40,659+) accomplishes the dead seconds complication in a way that's never been done before. To Grönefeld, this was a challenge, one that they decidedly nailed with the One Hertz.
We like to think our self-winding watches can run forever. But they will stop eventually, and before then their accuracy will degrade. Friction, viscosity, air resistance, not to mention entropy buildup -- the Second Law of Thermodynamics and all that -- conspire against the mechanical timepiece. The sad fact is, perpetual motion is physically impossible. But with a little maintenance here and there, it's almost achievable. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Atmos clock, invented in the 1920s, is "living" proof. How does it do it? The key is something that's constantly changing, even though we often can't tell: temperature.
The Swatch Sistem51 ($110-$220), so-named because there are fifty-one pieces in the movement, is quite simply a revolutionary timepiece. So revolutionary, in fact, that it may put an end to watch manufacturing as we know it and bring the mechanical timepiece to the masses.
It's not often that a timepiece takes full advantage of the laws of modern physics, optics, and spherical geometry -- which, when you think about it, is an odd combination to even address in a timepiece. But the Ressence Type 3 ($34,600) is just such a piece, giving scientists and engineers everywhere a reason to stare.
If you need a rugged, no-nonsense chronograph as part of your next mission kit, the new Tutima M2 (~$8000), to be released in early 2014, is it. The M2 is an update of Tutima’s venerable NATO Military Chronograph; the previous generation watch, called the NATO because it was standard issue for all NATO pilots, was outfitted with Lémania’s legendary but discontinued Caliber 5100. Tutima has preserved the 5100's distinguishing feature, an easily legible sweep chronograph minutes hand, in their new Caliber 321.
When Shinola started making watches under the venerable shoe polish brand in near-bankrupt Detroit, everyone seemed to be thinking “What the hell…?” Since then, Shinola has proudly yelled to the world that American manufacturing isn’t dead, even in a town that seems decidedly deceased. The Runwell ($550), Shinola's flagship timepiece, is a growing family of watches with a workman air. A bit industrial, a bit old-timey American pocket watch, the Runwell comes in two sizes (41mm and 47mm) and gives the distinct impression that the guy wearing it would bloody your nose for making a wisecrack either about his girl or American manufacturing.
While the A. Lange & Söhne Grand Complication is not the most complicated timepiece ever made, it's the most complicated timepiece ever manufactured by A. Lange & Söhne, and arguably the most challenging ever attempted by any brand. It took Lange seven years to develop the watch's L1902 movement, which features a sonnerie (chiming mechanism) with grand and small strike, a minute repeater, a mono-pusher rattrapante (split-seconds: a complication within a complication) chronograph with minute counter and flying seconds (it indicates fractions of a second in a sub-dial of its own: another complication within a complication), a perpetual calendar with date, day of week, and month in four-year cycle, and a moon phase.
In our series Want This, Get This, we profile one wildly desirable, largely unattainable item and one similar item that costs far less. In fact, that’s exactly what watch modification, or "watch modding", is all about. Now, given enough money, any watch can be modified. Just witness the huge market for blacking out and blinging out Rolexes. But there’s another subculture out there, one whose sweet spot isn’t a $25,000 watch, but rather a $50 to $250 watch -- the ubiquitous Seiko dive watch. We examine the subculture and its major players.
The Scott Radian ($795) is the rod for the fly fisher in pursuit of two seemingly averse characteristics: power and finesse. This is definitely a gun, firing out 50 feet of line and more on demand; there's plenty of power to cut through wind and shoot line. But the Radian also has the delicacy required to make short casts of 15 to 25 feet and not spook fish. On the water, the result of all this high-brow build quality is throwing a fly with pinpoint accuracy at distances many only dream about.
Just in case your budget is a bit thin for a pair of new timepieces or your multiple personalities can't agree on which watch to wear, Hamilton has just the answer. One side of the new Jazzmaster Face 2 Face ($6,195) is a chronograph to match your high-performing, detail-oriented style while the reverse is an elegant time-only timepiece suitable for more understated affairs.
Born of a desire to create a watch that never breaks, the Casio G-Shock is revered by many as “the toughest watch on the planet”. But it is much more than that. The G-Shock is universally respected, avidly collected, and loved by everyone from Navy SEALS to tree-hugging tech nerds, a watch that gives new meaning to the word "durable". But where did it come from? Let's go back to the beginning: Casio’s head of watch design Kikuo Ibe and his “Team Tough” designers.
The British are coming -- again. It seems that the new frontier for the Empire is in watchmaking, given the renaissance of timepieces from the island nation. Incorporating both English and Swiss parts, the English-made Pinion Axis ($2,825) will debut at Salon QP, the UK’s big watch exhibition, in November.
It’s 1981. The Quartz crisis is in full swing. You’re a thirty-something watchmaker, trained in the old-school ways of repairing mechanical watches. But, along with numerous other watchmakers in this horological downturn, you’ve just lost your position with one of the biggest names in the chronograph world because you know nothing about quartz movements. What do you do? If you’re Gerd-Rüdiger Lang, you start a watch company. A mechanical watch company.
Luxury adventure company Eleven takes its name from the ‘80s "rockumentary" This is Spinal Tap. In the movie, band member Nigel tells new guy Marty that while other bands' amps go up to ten, theirs go to eleven: one louder than ten. Staying at Eleven’s Scarp Ridge Lodge amid the Colorado high country of Crested Butte is, well, an eleven experience, full of luxurious comfort.
Destination fly fishing for trout in the high country of Colorado is a little different than going for sunnies in the local pond. Your gear needs to be quite a bit more specialized and reliable; you need a way to get it all from the flatlands to the high country. We planned to fish mostly from a drift boat -- a specialized boat designed to navigate shallow rivers. But we were going to be wading, too. And in mountain rivers, which are bigger, faster and colder than rivers in the Midwest, wading takes on a new meaning -- and so does proper gear. Of course, we still had to catch the fish.
When we wrote about the Sage Circa ($775) for our fly rod roundup last spring, we hadn’t yet tested it in depth. Our trip to Scarp Ridge Lodge in Crested Butte, CO, provided the perfect opportunity to test out the 589-4 (5wt, 8’-9”, 4-piece) rod.
Swiss watch movement maker ETA supplies much of the horological world with movements and ébauches (partial movements in need of finishing). Then in 2002 Nicholas Hayek, then chairman of The Swatch Group (ETA’s parent company), announced that ETA would soon begin tapering back the supply of ébauches to the world of Swiss watchmaking beyond their sister brands. Effectively, the Swatch Group decided to stop selling to the competition, albeit gradually. The uproar was tremendous.
When he was asked about the prominent bit of bling (or "B'ling") on his wrist, a former test pilot for the U.S. Air Force replied, “I need a Navitimer so I can do my calculations!” That brief anecdote may tell you something about how the Breitling Navitimer is viewed by the guys who fly jets for a living. The bit about calculations would be in reference to the Navitimer’s most recognizable feature, the "navigation computer" -- a circular slide rule located on the rotating bezel that a pilot can use to handle all the calculations they need to make when planning a flight. We examine the pilot's watch.
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