The History of the Breitling Navitimer and the First Cosmonaut in Space

Here we will explain about the Cosmonaut, the watch worn by Breitling when it first went into space.

Before we talk about the Cosmonaut, let's take a look at what kind of watch it is.
What was the background to space development at that time?
I think that by talking about this in advance, the appeal of Cosmonauts will be more apparent.

1. What is the Navitimer created by Breitling?

, Human longing for the sky and space

I will explain the above first.

The History of the Breitling Navitimer

With the introduction of the Navitimer, created by Breitling's third founder, Willy Breitling, Breitling further strengthened its ties with the aviation world.

The Navitimer was originally created as a pilot's watch for professional use, and has since evolved as its applications expanded from the sky to space.

1952, 10 years after the birth of the Chronomat.

Willy Breitling released his second masterpiece, the Navitimer, which marked a glorious milestone in the history of watches.

Coincidentally, in the aviation world, the world's first commercial jet passenger aircraft, the Comet, entered service in that year, ushering in the full-fledged jet age.

The Chronomat was the first chronograph equipped with a rotating slide rule that could calculate multiplication, division, speed, etc., but the Navitimer took it a step further and made it suitable for professional use. Breitling First Chronomat
Breitling First Chronomat

It was equipped with the E6B navigational slide rule invented by Captain Weems of the U.S. Navy, which made it possible to calculate all aspects of the flight plan, such as ascent and descent times, fuel consumption, and speed.

This slide rule is also called "Type 52" after the year the Navitimer was introduced. It goes without saying that the newly developed Navitimer was widely accepted by pilots of the time.

Due to its high reliability, it has also been selected as an official chronograph by AOPA (International Pilots Association). Breitling Early Navitimer (First Model)
Breitling Early Navitimer (first model)[/caption]

Cosmonaut: the first wristwatch in space

There was an incident that led to the name Navitimer becoming known throughout the world.

This was an ambitious manned space flight program carried out from 1959 to 1963.

The Cosmonaut, a model derived from the Navitimer, was created at the request of astronaut Scott Carpenter.

This watch was capable of measuring 24 hours, making it extremely useful in outer space, where it is difficult to distinguish between day and night.

In the 1960s, humanity's dreams shifted from the sky to space.

In 1962, as the space race was intensifying, Breitling released the Cosmonaut.

As the name suggests, this model was designed for astronauts and was a 24-hour chronograph that allowed them to distinguish day and night even in space.

As you can see from the dial below, the Cosmonaut Navitimer has a 24-hour dial, which symbolizes a watch that can keep time precisely in the weightless environment of space, where time is unknown.
Breitling's Cosmonauts Made for Astronauts
In fact, as part of NASA's Mercury Program, Aurora Seven commander Scott Carpenter successfully orbited Earth wearing a Cosmonaut on his wrist in May of the same year.

The Cosmonaut was the first man-made watch to go into space.

The story behind the creation of Cosmonauts is available in this YouTube video, so be sure to check it out .

Navitimer Cosmonaut Flyback

Now, the Cosmonaut, the only hand-wound chronograph currently available from Breitling, was discontinued in 2000, and the brand has now entered the next stage.

This is the "Cosmonaut Flyback" that was released in 2001. The movement is equipped with the automatic caliber "Breitling 22" instead of the manual winding type.

Also noteworthy is the flyback function, which is a sign of a high-end chronograph. Breitling Navitimer Cosmonaut dial with flyback function
Breitling Navitimer Cosmonaut crown with flyback functionBreitling Navitimer Cosmonaut with flyback function


Movement Caliber "Brattling 22", automatic chronograph, 1/5 second chronograph second hand, 30 minute counter, 12 hour counter, 28,800 vibrations per hour, 38 jewels, calendar display, power reserve of at least 42 hours
Case Stainless steel, 18K yellow and white gold
Case Size Diameter 41.50mm, thickness 14.40mm
Waterproof function 30 m (100 ft)
Bezel Bidirectional rotating bezel (rotating slide rule)
Crown Non-threaded (2 gaskets)
Case Back Screw-in type
Glass Domed sapphire crystal, anti-reflective coating on both sides
Weight (basic model) 83.90g
Belt/buckle width 22/18mm
Straps/Bracelets Leather strap, Navitimer bracelet
The case thickness of the previous Cosmonaut was 13.30mm, while the Cosmonaut Flyback is 14.40mm.

As you can see from the image, it is slightly thicker due to the addition of the flyback function. Cosmonaut also has a variety of lines.

Breitling Navitimer Cosmonaut Porco Rosso in collaboration with Ghibli, available only in Japan

Breitling Navitimer Cosmonaut Porco Rosso "Porco Rosso" watchBreitling Navitimer Cosmonaut Porco Rosso "Porco Rosso" watch back
Breitling Navitimer Cosmonaut Porco Rosso "Porco Rosso" watch certificate 

Breitling Navitimer Cosmonaut Porco Rosso This is a limited edition model based on the Ghibli film "Porco Rosso".

To commemorate the opening of the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, a limited edition of 300 pieces was produced.

Beneath the index "24" is an image of Red Wing's beloved plane, the Savoia S-21, in flight, and on the back cover are engraved Porco Rosso's face, four flying boats, and the serial number.

The hands of the three subdials are also painted red, making this a must-have watch not only for movie fans but also for Breitling fans.

In 1969, the same year the world was celebrating the first manned moon landing, a shocking event also occurred in the Swiss watch industry.

The world's first automatic chronograph movement was developed jointly by Breitling, Heuer-Leonidas, and Buren. Six months later, Zenith introduced the El Primero, which beat at 36,000 vibrations per hour.

This "Caliber 11" was also installed in the Navitimer and announced as the "Navitimer Chronomatic." In the 1970s, many Navitimers with unique designs that reflected the trends of the times appeared, including Navitimers that incorporated LED and LCD technology.

However, by that time the global watch industry was already becoming dominated by quartz.

Many prestigious traditional Swiss watch brands suffered a major blow, and Breitling was no exception, eventually being forced to close its factory in 1979.

However, it was Ernest Schneider who, following Willy Breitling's wishes, saved the brand from a crisis.

Thus, the prestige of the Pilot's Watch was passed down just in time. The Navitimer reappeared in 1985.

After taking over the business, Ernest introduced the new Chronomat in 1984 and revived the historic Navitimer the following year.

This model, named the “Old Navitimer,” was a symbol of Breitling’s new beginning and a model that truly bridged the gap between the past and the future.

Since then, numerous derivative models have been born, such as the Cosmonaut and Montbrillant, and today the Navitimer line is Breitling's core collection.

It has been 50 years since the birth of the Navitimer, which left a great mark on the world of aviation and the history of watches. The challenge of the Navitimer, which carries the dreams of humanity, is not over yet.
Breitling Navitimer Cosmonaut Porco Rosso "Porco Rosso" watch certificate