Breitling’s Navitimer Rattrapante is an exceptional watch. It has a new in-house split-seconds chronograph movement that incorporates two patents, it is COSC chronometer-certified, and it operates using the most prestigious chronograph layout, column wheel and vertical clutch. It comes in two versions, steel and gold, and the gold version has a display caseback. The dial is the classic Navitimer, with bidirectional rotating bezel providing a circular slide rule for calculations, conversions, percentages and so forth.
Intuitive operation with rattrapante pusher at 3 o’clock
A split-second rattrapante chronograph is not hard to use – you start the chronograph and the two superimposed chronograph hands set out together, to record an intermediate time you press the pusher in the crown at 3 o’clock, the top red split-second hand stops, you take the reading, press the pusher at 3 o’clock again, and the split second hand catches up with the other that meanwhile has continued its course interrupted – but very hard to build, and particularly to prevent the split-second chronograph function from adversely affecting the movement’s timekeeping precision. Breitling designed this B03 movement entirely in-house and chose the most intuitive position possible for the split-second pusher: in the crown.
A calibre with two patents
Breitling’s approach to the design was to ensure that the movement could be feasibly industrialized, in other words to minimize the time required for adjusting the split-second mechanism on the part of watchmakers, and to reduce the number of components. One of the patents regards the system that disconnects the split-seconds hand from the movement when it is stopped. The second patent concerns the method of stopping the split-seconds hand, based on a circular flexible gasket that can be clamped or released, rather like the brake pads used on a bicycle wheel. The system is more reliable than the usual smooth or fine-toothed wheel. The movement is based on the Breitling Calibre 01, with a modular architecture that facilitates maintenance, because the split-second module can be easily lifted out from between the mainplate and the calendar mechanism. The chronograph has a column wheel and vertical clutch, and so chronograph operation doesn’t affect the amplitude of the balance. This improves precision and protects the power reserve of 70 hours, and decreases rate of wear when compared with a horizontal clutch.
The B03 movement is self-winding and runs at 28,800 vibrations per hour, 4 Hertz. So the seconds scale is logically marked in quarter-second intervals. Hands and hour indices are coated with SuperLuminova. The dial has an attractive bronze colour, with silver-toned subdials that ensure legibility for chronograph minutes (3 o’clock), chronograph hours (6 o’clock) and continuous seconds.
When the two chronograph seconds hands are superposed, their counterweights form the Breitling B-and-anchor logo. When the split-second chronograph hand is stopped, you see the B part of the logo stop, while the anchor on the other hand continues around the dial. A nice detail that accompanies all the classic Navitimer features, with the simplicity of the inner part of the dial contrasting with the complexity of the outer part with its tachymetric and slide rule scales.
Case and strap
The case is 45 mm in diameter, with a range of straps available, leather, crocodile, rubber, and a metal bracelet. On the Breitling website you can use a configurator to view the different strap colours and view the final price. The red gold version has a transparent caseback and is available only with leather, crocodile strap and rubber strap options. Water resistance is the standard 3 bar (30 metres), you have to take care not to operate the chronograph pushers in the presence of water.
The Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante costs from €9,900 in the steel version with leather strap, and from €28,400 in the red gold version. Follow this link for a selection of split-second chronograph watches.