A Bomber Drops at Basel: Breitling’s WWII-Inspired Navitimer Super 8 (Updated With Live Photos)

As most of us now know, Breitling’s release of its streamlined, vintage-influenced, and arguably more elegant Navitimer 8 collection earlier this year represented a new direction for the Swiss brand. But for all of those Breitling purists who may have fretted that Breitling was backing off from the big, hyper-masculine aviation timepieces that made its modern reputation (despite Breitling CEO Georges Kern’s assurances to the contrary), the release of the new Navitimer Super 8 at Baselworld 2018 this week should set their minds at ease — and, perhaps, set their hearts racing.

Breitling Navitimer Super 8 titanium - Military green dial
The Breitling Navitimer Super 8 in titanium case with military green dial

The watch takes its historical design cues from Breitling’s Reference 637, a stopwatch produced in the 1930s and 1940s that bomber pilots and their crews would strap to their thighs during missions during World War II — a placement that ensured optimal readability. Reference 637 (pictured below) featured a large, left-handed crown that was big enough for a gloved hand to operate — while the timepiece was strapped to the aviator’s leg, the crown was ideally accessible at the “top” of the case — and a pusher that activated the count-up and count-down functions used to execute their wartime missions. Like the watches that inspired the new Navitimer 8 models, Reference 637 was a product of Breitling’s Huit Aviation Department (more on which here), which was established in 1938 by company founder Willy Breitling and worked to provide tough, reliable timepieces for both civil and military aviation.

Breitling Reference 637
Breitling Reference 637

The modern Super 8 carries on the historical design codes with its 46-mm case – the huge, notched unidirectional rotating bezel actually brings the total diameter to 50 mm — in either stainless steel or titanium. The screw-locked crown, positioned on the case’s left flank as on the Reference 637, and solid, screwed caseback help ensure a water resistance of 30 meters.

The stainless steel model has a black dial, the titanium model a military green dial. Both feature large, luminescent Arabic numerals and luminescent hour and minute hands. And while the Super 8 is not a chronograph, it does include a prominent red triangular pointer on the inside flange of the rotating bezel, which can be used in concert with the hands to track elapsed times.

Breitling Navitimer Super 8 - titanium - Military green dial CU
The red triangular pointer on the bezel’s inside edge can be used to track elapsed times.

Inside this titanic timekeeper (the case is 14.4 mm thick) is an automatic, chronometer-certified movement, Breitling’s Caliber B20, which is based on Caliber MT 5612, which fans of the Tudor watches may recognize as the movement used in last year’s Tudor Black Bay Chronograph. It is wound by a dual-acting ball bearing rotor, beats at 28,800 vph, and packs a hefty 70-hour power reserve. Both Navitimer Super 8 models are presented on brown NATO straps — not intended to be strapped around the thigh but still plenty evocative of the watches’ wartime predecessor. The price and release date has not yet been finalized, but we did get to see the watch “in the metal” at Baselworld. Scroll down for some live photos.

Breitling Navitimer Super 8 - live-reclining
Breitling Navitimer Super 8 - live-flat
Breitling Navitimer Super 8 - live-reclining CU

10 Green Watches to go with Your Pint of Guinness on St. Patrick’s Day

Green watches are proving more and more popular these days, so what better holiday to highlight a few of our favorite viridescent watches than St. Patrick’s Day? We’ve collected a few of the more notable models, but with so many brands embracing the hue, we restricted it to timepieces released in the past two years. Unfortunately, that means that the Rolex Hulk (a Submariner with a green dial and bezel originally released in 2010) and the Kermit (a Submariner with a black dial and green bezel originally released in 2003), two of the most popular green watches, won’t be making an appearance this time.

The Panerai Radiomir 1940 3 Days Acciaio PAM 736

Panerai Radiomir 1940 3 Days Acciaio - 47 mm - reclining
Panerai Radiomir 1940 3 Days Acciaio – 47 mm

Last fall, Panerai released three green-dialed watches. Our favorite was the PAM 739. Slightly larger than the rest, at 47 mm in diameter, the Panerai Radiomir 1940 3 Days Acciaio is constructed from a single block of AS 316L stainless steel and features integrated lugs. The dial has the large Arabic numerals and linear hour markers characteristic of Panerai, along with a date window at 3 o’clock and a small seconds subdial at 9 o’clock. Powering the watch is the manufacture Caliber P.3000, with a three-day power reserve and large, brushed-finish bridges, including two bridges with twin supports for the massive 13.2-mm balance wheel. This manual-winding movement also features a quick-adjustment function for the hour hand. The price: $9,200. You can read more about the other models here.

The Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 3600 LE

 

 

Grand Seiko, fresh off rechristening itself as a separate brand at Baselworld 2017, kept the hits rolling last fall when it unveiled this distinctive take on the Hi-Beat 36000 GMT. The ornate dial pattern is meant to resemble a Peacock’s plumage, quickly earning this model the Peacock nom de guerre among Seiko-holics everywhere. Limited to 700 total pieces, the watch has quickly become a favorite among watch enthusiasts looking for a darker and less flashy green watch. At $6,500, it offers an excellent value proposition considering the Japanese brand’s world-class finishing.

The Hublot Classic Fusion in Green

If you’re looking for a watch that combines the viridescent dial of the Rolex Hulk but aren’t interested in picking up a diver, then this new line of Hublot Classic Fusions released during the LVMH Geneva Days show that runs concurrently with SIHH deserves a look. There are ten new watches featuring this specific dial color that, depending on the light, can transition from a bright, grassy green to an almost-black color. The watches come in four different sizes, 33  mm, 38 mm, 42 mm, and 45 mm, and the choice of a case made from Hublot’s proprietary King Gold or a satin-finished and polished titanium. Add in two chronograph options and you’ve got a collection that the whole family can break out during St. Patrick’s Day. Prices range from CHF 5,300 (approximately $5,560 USD at the time of publishing) for the 33 mm titanium model, to 29,300 CHF (approximately $30,750 USD at the time of publishing) for the King Gold Chronograph.

The MB&F Legacy Machine Perpetual in Titanium

Back at the end of February, the good folks at MB&F released a new take on the GPHG award-winning and fan-favorite Legacy Machine Perpetual Calendar. The big news here? The watch appeared for the first time in titanium. While a pessimist might point out the blueish hints to the green that courses throughout the skeletonized dial, there’s easily enough to keep any drunken revelers from surprising you with a hard pinch. It’s limited to 50 total pieces and priced at $148,000.

The Rado True Thinline Leaf

 

Announced last month as a pre-Baselworld teaser, the Rado True Thinline Leaf embraces both the design panaché the brand is known for as well as the high-tech ceramic usage they popularized. While the green ceramic bracelet and case are attractive enough, it’s the dial that really steals the show. Inspired by nature, the green mother-of-pearl dial has a leaf pattern printed on its underside causing a dizzying effect when the light bounces on and off of it. It’s a unique piece that is worth seeing in person to fully appreciate the contrast between the detailed veins of a leaf and the classic mother-of-pearl sheen. It’s priced at $2,000 and will be available post-Baselworld. Check out Rado’s other pre-Baselworld 2018 novelty here.

The Sinn 3006 Hunter Chronograph

This Sinn model boasts a moon phase that is completely unnecessary in the United States but is totally awesome in its own right. The German federal hunting laws — also known as Bundesjagdgesetz —prohibits hunting with the aid of artificial light sources. In order to hunt game at night, there must be adequate natural lighting from the moon. To figure what night offers the legal amount of light, the crafty German manufactory designed this moon phase to show when the moonlight is bright enough. It’s priced at $3,970.

The H. Moser Endeavour Centre Seconds Concept Cosmic GreenH. Moser & Cie Endeavour Centre Seconds Concept Cosmic Green - lifestyle

As it did two years ago, H. Moser & Cie. introduced a special-edition piece in its “Concept” collection at SIHH 2017. The Endeavour Centre Seconds Concept Cosmic Green was limited to 20 pieces each in white and rose gold when it was first released. The green fumé dial is unblemished by subdials, windows, numerals, indices, not even a brand logo. It’s the first fumé dial — the brand’s specialty — that features the color green. Learn more here.

The MeisterSinger N.02MeisterSinger Green Dial

The German watch brand MeisterSinger introduced the green-dialed No.02 at Baselworld 2016. The watch is one of three pieces – the others are the Neo and the Pangaea – that featured this all-new color called “Rensing Green.” The color, which first appeared on the brand’s Salthora Meta jumping-hour in 2015, was created by Nico Rensing, a longtime member of MeisterSinger’s international sales team. More details about the No.02 and its green companions can be found in this article.

 

The Oris Diver Sixty-FiveOris Diver Sixty-Five - green dial

This dark-green-dial-version of the Divers Sixty-Five from Oris was added to the popular vintage-inspired dive watch collection in 2016. The hands and indices are filled with a type of colored Super-LumiNova called “Light Old Radium.” The watch is available with four different bracelet and strap options. More details can be found here.

The Frederique Constant Classic Worldtimer Manufacture

Frederique Constant Classic Worldtimer Manufacture - green
Frederique Constant Classic Worldtimer Manufacture – green

The Frederique Constant Classic Worldtimer Manufacture, which debuted in a brown-and-rose-gold version last year, sports a new green-and-silver look in this pre-Baselworld 2018 incarnation. Like its predecessors, the watch has a three-part stainless steel case measuring 42 mm in diameter and a world-map dial swept over by hand-polished, luminous-treated hour and minute hands, and is powered by an in-house movement, Caliber FC-718. Composed of 139 parts, and visible through a sapphire caseback, it beats at a frequency of 28,800 vph, stores a power reserve of 42 hours, and features perlage and côtes de Genève finishing on its bridges and plates. The movement is notable for its world-time function, which is controlled entirely by the crown, with no additional push-buttons or correctors needed. The wearer can manually wind the watch by turning the crown upwards in its first position; set the date and city by turning it upward and downward, respectively, in its second position; and set the local time by turning it downward in its third, fully extracted position. The dial is surrounded by two disks, with a 24-hour day-night scale and a city indicator representing the 24 major world time zones. The dark green tint in the ocean areas of the world map, the date disk at 6 o’clock, and the world-time city disk is echoed by the dark green strap with white contrast stitching. You can learn more here.

 

Vintage Eye for the Modern Guy: Montblanc 1858 Automatic Chronograph

Since Montblanc’s 1858 collection was first released in 2015, it has served as the host for watches inspired by the erstwhile Minerva marque. Montblanc acquired the Minerva manufacture in 2006 and has done well to use this company’s long design history to enhance its own novel series. This year was no different, with Montblanc expanding its 1858 collection with a time-only watch, a GMT, a limited-edition monopusher chronograph, a limited edition pocket watch, and our focus for this week, the 1858 Automatic Chronograph.

The Montblanc 1858 Automatic Chronograph in bronze.

Montblanc has emphasized it draws its primary inspiration from a 1930s Minerva chronograph example, but where the modern watch channels a common WWII-era chronograph design with pump pushers, a straightforward case, and dial configuration, the vintage watch was itself a monopusher. The reason for this style change in the modern piece was made for a specific reason: the brand values the design of the original Minerva and believes watches inspired by it will have a market appeal, yet due to the modern rarity of production, monopusher chronographs are difficult to bring to consumers due to the high cost of manufacturing which is passed into the overall price of the watch. As such, Montblanc has released each of its monopusher designs in 100-piece limited editions and has framed the new bi-compax to be a period-inspired — albeit not exactly historically accurate — pilot’s chronograph.

The Montblanc 1858 Automatic Chronograph in stainless steel.

The 1858 Automatic Chronograph comes in two options, both using the same military style 42-mm case with pump pushers, a thick crown, and an engraved case back featuring the Montblanc logo over the image of a mountain. The first of the two is a more vintage-influenced steel watch with a black dial while the second is a more contemporary bronze cased piece with a champagne face; both models use similar cream-colored accents (although it might be more appropriate to refer to them as faux patina on the steel watch). On the dial of each there’s an outer minute ring contrasting to its background, white for the steel version and black for the bronze, while slightly closer to the center are SuperLumiNova coated Arabic numerals and two prominent subdials at the 9 and 3 o’clock positions for running seconds and a 30-minute counter, respectively.

The time is indicated by a set of antique-style cathedral hands common in the earlier half of the twentieth century, while the chronograph seconds counter uses a simple pointer with a small counterweight on its opposite end. To keep its hands ticking, the 1858 Automatic Chronograph features the caliber MB 25.11 based on the Sellita SW-500 and is capable of a 48-hour power reserve. As with all of the brand’s watches, it must successfully pass the Montblanc Laboratory Test 500, where the brand has each watch run for 500 continuous hours to certify its accuracy before appearing worldwide for sale. Once it lands in watch boutiques, the steel model will be priced around $4,900, with the bronze model to retail around $5,800.

Close-up on the dial of the Montblanc 1858 Automatic Chronograph.

As the new watch design is only casually influenced by the 1930s Minerva monopusher, rather than strongly informed by it, the differences between the vintage and modern references are both expected and apparent. Excluding the obvious fact the contemporary piece is a not a monopusher, the vintage model featured a typical pilots’ watch jewel-style crown, a larger and curvier case unique for military watches of the era, and had bolder numerals for its outer minute ring; where the modern watch uses a simpler, more rugged crown, a utilitarian-style case common to other military chronograph from the vintage era, and proportionally larger sub-dials on its face than those on the vintage edition.

The Montblanc 1858 Automatic Chronograph in stainless steel.

Yet despite the differences in the watches, there are some fairly obvious vintage-inspired characteristics on the contemporary piece. In both the bronze and steel variations, the dial configuration with its minute rings, large sub-dials, Arabic numerals hour markers, and cathedral hands matches the historic Minerva model. It is apparent the “heritage” model is the steel variant, with its black dial and cream accents, the watch has an identifiable vintage-appeal, and matches the aesthetic of the original chronograph. Although I will admit, if I encountered the watch without being aware of it beforehand, I would have likely thought it was a well-executed, slightly enlarged, and modernized reissue of a handsome WWII chronograph, instead of drawing the connection to the 1930s Minerva. This is not the worst problem to have, but it speaks volumes to the actual vintage aesthetic of the contemporary piece.

The caseback of the 1858 Automatic Chronograph.

What I have found most interesting when reading about this new watch is in what other horological pundits have discussed about it the most. As it seems to be that its most distinguishing trait is not its own design successes or failures, but rather its relative accessibility compared to the significantly more expensive limited edition monopushers produced by the brand. Yet, as I view the two styles of watches — both of which claim a lineage and inspiration from the original 1930s Minerva proto B-Uhr pilots’ chronograph — I would argue confidently the 1858 Automatic Chronograph isn’t exactly the “look without the price” kind of watch it’s made out to be. The vintage monopusher design school in itself is so unique that it’s a bit difficult to imagine consumers will view the new pump pusher watch as a cost-saving method to the monopusher design it does not itself use. Regardless, the Automatic Chronograph is by no means a negative addition to the 1858 collection, and might well be a precursor for how Montblanc plans to channel the history of Minerva watches through its new series in the years to come.

One of the new Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Limited Edition of 100 timepieces.

You can check out more details on the rest of Montblanc’s 2018 collection here, here, and here.

For the most recent article in the “Vintage Eye” series, in which we compare the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical 38 mm to its historical predecessor, click here.

Caleb Anderson is a freelance writer with a primary focus on vintage watches. Since first learning about horology, he has garnered extensive knowledge in the field and spends much of his time sharing his opinions among other writers, collectors, and dealers. Currently located near New York City, he is a persistent student in all things historical, a writer on many topics, and a casual runner.