historical navitimer 1959 cover Breitling AOPA
historical navitimer 1959 cover Breitling AOPA | Foto: historical navitimer 1959 cover Breitling AOPA

2022 will mark 70 years since Breitling created the Navitimer for AOPA

Por: Karen Limón

20, January, 2022 en Watch Ambassador

In 1952, Willy Breitling developed a wrist-worn instrument that allowed pilots to perform all the necessary flight calculations. Two years later, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) chose his design as their official timepiece. Their collaboration resulted in one of the most recognizable watches of all time – the Navitimer Chronograph – the original version proudly emblazoned with the AOPA logo at 12 o’clock. Today, they jointly announced a new funding program for young pilots, the first of several upcoming collaborations to mark the watch’s 70th anniversary.

“At the time, neither Breitling nor AOPA could have imagined the importance of this partnership and its impact on the world,” said Breitling CEO Georges Kern. “But it makes for a watch that’s much bigger than a watch. It’s iconic.” Today, the organizations announced the Breitling Aviation Scholarship, which will fund the cost of a young man in the U.S. to complete a full pilot training course . The application deadline is February 11, 2022.

The relationship between Breitling and AOPA began nearly 70 years ago, when Willy Breitling developed a new chronograph concept for members of the association. At the time, AOPA was (and still is) the largest pilot club in the world, with nearly every American pilot in its ranks. His design is an innovative wrist-worn instrument that allows pilots to perform predictive flight calculations such as average speed, distance flown, fuel consumption and rate of climb. An early solution to the on-board computer was achieved by incorporating Breitling’s patented circular slide rule into the watch’s rotating bezel. The name “Navitimer” is cleverly derived from the combination of navigation and timer. When introduced to AOPA members in 1954, the watch became an instant hit.

Breitling navitimer cosmonaute from 1862
Breitling navitimer cosmonaute from 1862

This first aviation chronograph watch “designed and built entirely to AOPA specifications” has no Breitling name or logo on the dial. In its place is the prominent AOPA logo at 12 o’clock. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the Navitimer remained the watch of choice for military and civilian pilots. Astronaut Scott Carpenter even wore a specially modified aviation timepiece in space in 1962. It’s not just pilots who are drawn to Navitimer’s uncompromising style and functionality. When it was released in 1955 with an unsigned version of the AOPA logo, the watch found fans among celebrities of the time, including Miles Davis, Serge Gainsbourg and Formula 1 champion Jim Clark and Graham Hill.

Today, the watch’s most coveted collectibles are retro iterations and limited-edition tributes bearing the association’s logo. What was once an “AOPA Official Watch” has become a cultural phenomenon, and these origins will continue to have a major impact on the future of aviation chronographs. “We share a fairly common history with Breitling, dating back to our original partnership with the original Navitimer in the 1950s,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “I am delighted to maintain this important and strong relationship, And create the conditions for further exciting joint projects.

Breitling and AOPA have remained close allies throughout the decades
Breitling and AOPA have remained close allies throughout the decades

We thank Breitling for its commitment to AOPA and General Aviation. For decades, Breitling and the Pilots Association have been close allies, collaborating on aviation events and programs to help aspiring pilots enter the field. The Breitling Aviation Grant is made to mark the 70th anniversary of the 2022 watch The first of a number of planned collaborations for the Aviator Watch. As the date draws closer, stay tuned for important news on how these two historic organizations will come together again to share their legacy to celebrate in the Icons Pilot Watch .


Since 1884, Breitling has established a global reputation for high-precision timepieces, its pioneering role in the development of the wrist chronograph and its uncompromising commitment to design excellence. With the brand’s storied association with aviation, Breitling has shared the finest moments in humankind’s conquest of the skies. Renowned for its spirit of innovation, it has also earned a place of privilege in the worlds of science, sport and technology. Breitling manufactures its own movements in-house and the quality of every watch is confirmed by its status as a COSC-certified chronometer, made in Switzerland.


Since 1939, AOPA has protected the freedom to fly by creating an environment that gives people of all ages the opportunity to enjoy aviation and all it has to offer. AOPA is the world’s largest community of pilots, aircraft owners and aviation enthusiasts with representatives based in
Frederick, Md., Washington, D.C., and seven regions across the United States. The association provides member services including advocacy at the federal, state and local levels, legal services, flight training, and safety programs, and award-winning media. AOPA specializes in making aviation more accessible to everyone. To learn more, visit www.aopa.org