As vintage watch sales surge, watch designers are scouring the archives to channel the retro vibe in new models. Among the trendy revivals, a handful of midcentury sport watches— Breitling’s Navitimer, Omega’s Speedmaster, Rolex’s Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller and Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak—have cultivated enduring legacies that endow them with icon status.
The 1950s was a golden era for sport watches as technical advances allowed for more rugged and reliable movements with enhanced shock-resistance, water-resistance, and antimagnetic properties. Designed to perform practical functions for pilots, divers, and drivers, “tool watches” became essential gear for go-getters and fashionable accessories for armchair sportsmen.
Breitling debuted its Navitimer in 1952, featuring technical functions—most notably a circular slide rule that pilots used for mathematical conversions and other calculations before calculators. This year, Breitling expanded that legacy with the Navitimer 8 collection, which draws inspiration from cockpit instruments made by the brand’s Eight Aviation Department in the 1930s. The new collection, which offers watches from $3,850 to $8,350, is less technical and more modern, with five models: the B01 chronograph, powered by the in-house automatic Caliber Breitling 01; the Navitimer 8 Chronograph, with a workhorseValjoux 7750 movement; the Navitimer 8 Unitime world time model, a Day&Date; and an entry-level three-hand Automatic.