Breitling Navitimer 1 B01 Chronograph 43 Pan Am Edition.
Breitling Navitimer 1 B01 Chronograph 43 Pan Am Edition.
Image: Supplied

With a new season of Stranger Things starting this week, once again our worlds will be turned upside down as we’re immersed in the 1980s nostalgia of small-town Hawkins and the pending danger from the Mind Flayer. Needless to say, there are limited travel plans ahead, unless it’s to leave the couch for fresh popcorn.

There was a time, not so long ago, when international travel was so very glamorous and not, as it is today, like a trip to the Upside Down. Even if you were assigned to cattle class there was a real sense of excitement for the journey ahead. Today, unless you can afford a first-class ticket, you join the painfully slow queues at security, where you’re forced to strip down almost to your undergarments and reveal some of your most personal belongings to the world before making a sweaty dash to the boarding gate.

I recall my first trip abroad as a kid in the 1980s, when adults could smoke on board and nobody monitored their alcohol consumption. There were special dessert trolleys laden with delights, including freshly baked cake and homestyle trifle, dished up by the spoonful straight from their bowls. Yes, the entertainment was limited and you had to refuel somewhere en route to your destination, but the staff were friendly and on form – not a hair out of place or blouse untucked.

Breitling’s Navitimer 1 B01 Chronograph 43 Pan Am Edition recalls those halcyon days and bears one of the most recognisable liveries in commercial aviation history, the blue “meatball” globe, on its transparent sapphire caseback. It is part of the Airline capsule collection, which includes TWA (Trans World Airlines) and Swissair editions. Pan American Airways and TWA are no more, and the Swiss airline’s service is such a shadow of its former glory that if it were a watch brand it wouldn’t qualify to be labelled “Swiss made”. The stainless steel Pan Am Edition is definitely the most desirable in the collection with its retro blue dial with red base ring and hands, and contracting silver subdials. It is available with a punched-out Air Racer bracelet, vintage-inspired leather strap or period-appropriate steel mess bracelet. 

Breitling Navitimer 1 B01 Chronograph 43 Pan Am Edition caseback.
Breitling Navitimer 1 B01 Chronograph 43 Pan Am Edition caseback.
Image: Supplied

Its COSC-certified, in-house Calibre 01 self-winding mechanical chronograph movement promises to deliver both incredible precision and a power reserve of about 70 hours.

The Navitimer – a portmanteau of the words “navigation” and “timer” – is considered by many to be the ultimate pilot’s wristwatch and is the oldest mechanical chronograph still in production. It made its debut in 1952 as a prototype equipped with a circular slide rule able to facilitate all aviation-related calculations as the perfect “co-pilot”. Incidentally, Breitling was the first watchmaker to feature such a slide rule with the launch of the Chronomat 11 years earlier – Chronomat is a contraction of “chronograph” and “mathematics” – which was a big departure from the simple dials with huge numerals typical of the pilot’s watch of that era. For those of us who won’t be in a cockpit anytime soon, these are lovely nostalgic tools. However, a globetrotter might have been better served with the inclusion of GMT functionality as featured in the Navitimer 1 Chronograph GMT 46mm.

Breitling Navitimer 1 B01 Chronograph 43 Pan Am Edition, R131,500 on steel mess bracelet.

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