Cleared for Takeoff: Marius’ Breitling Navitimer

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Most of us have pastimes that help us strike an oh-so-necessary balance with our work responsibilities and family life. Marius has a work hard/play hard lifestyle. His hobbies run the gamut: from building salt-water fish tanks to riding motorcycles and racing sports cars.  So when the weekend rolls around, he’s never at a loss for how to spend his free time.

The next hobby he plans to bravely embark on is flying. He’ll surely feel a different kind of adrenaline rush when navigating a plane through the clouds than what he gets from cruising on the open road. And while he hasn’t experienced the actual thrill of piloting, the anticipation of flying has sparked his latest interest: Watches.

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If you didn’t know any better, you might think that Breitling watches run on jet fuel. Known as “Instruments for Professionals,” the design and function of Breitling watches are heavily-geared towards aviation. A quick peruse through a Breitling catalog or glance at one of their advertisements and it’s clear who their target market is: those with a fascination for adventure in the air. So Marius – who dreams of flying one day – naturally gravitated to the brand.  And the particular model he locked in on:  None other than the hallowed Navitimer – a watch created for pilots back in the 1950s that put Breitling on the map.

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On their honeymoon six years ago, Marius spotted a Navitimer on someone’s wrist and pointed it out to his wife. But a Breitling would have to wait: Marius had too many hobbies going on – and none were “cheap.”  Something would have to give…

After buying a new exotic car a few years ago – an orange Lotus – his motorcycle wound up taking a back seat to his “shiny new toy.” So, he decided to sell his motorcycle and buy a new one, hoping an upgraded model would compete better with his Lotus for road-time. But – in the process of searching for a new bike – he and his wife realized the Lotus was more than satisfying their ‘need for speed.’ Even though his wife missed wrapping her arms around Marius when they rode his motorcycle together, she was getting used to riding shotgun in the Lotus. Deciding to bypass getting a new motorcycle meant that the funds earmarked for one could go towards something else – like the Breitling he always wanted. As if he needed more encouragement, his wife – at the time – just bought a new Michelle watch. Marius reasoned it was time to get a new watch too. “Of course” his would be a Breitling Nativimer.

On one of their frequent visits to a favorite neighborhood coffee shop, Marius fired up his laptop and did a Google search for his watch (he wanted to save a little money, so he decided to buy on the gray market). What mattered most was that it was a Navitimer. Since this model has plenty of ‘bells and whistles’ on the dial and bezel, he wanted a neutral – one color “face,” preferably blue – to somewhat simplify the overall appearance. He also wanted a “big” watch. The Navitimer World model – at 46mm and offered with an all blue dial – was perfect. He clicked-through to an online seller from the search results. Two hours later – after vetting the seller and double-checking their warranty – he headed down the street to his bank and did a wire transfer.

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Marius doesn’t use the Navitimer’s famed slide rule or have his watch’s 24-hour hand set to any particular timezone or even military time for that matter. He’s definitely not “immersed” in watches the way he is with his other hobbies. But wearing his Breitling has caused the – unintended, but inevitable effect – of him taking notice of other fine watches. Slowly but surely he’s developing a taste for watches. For his next one, he wants a “dressier” style. He’s eyeing an IWC Portuguese Automatic. Ironically, IWC is another brand with a heritage linked to flying.

He hasn’t been diagnosed with an addiction to watches…yet. But he does have a colleague enabling him: Recently Marius was introduced to NATO straps. He no longer wears his Breitling on the steel bracelet it came with. Instead he’s having fun ‘mixing and matching’ those nylon straps. It’s these small things that will keep him engaged and make it harder to cut ties.

Dedicating time to a hobby is just as – if not more – important than investing money in it. One surefire way to propel a passion is to surround oneself with people who share a similar, genuine love for something. When I met Marius – and we talked about watches – I had to bring up the watch community I’m a part of in Chicago and tell him how much our monthly meet-ups seem to benefit everyone who attends. Turns out, Marius is no stranger to get-togethers. He and his wife are part of a Lotus Car Club and regularly hang out with other enthusiasts to talk shop. After speaking with Marius, I left with the feeling that he’ll show up at one of our #commonwealthcrew pow-wows in the near future.

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It’s not a matter of if, but when Marius earns his pilot’s license. While his first day of flight school is still a ways off, his interim plan is to ease into the idea of flying by taking-up Paramotoring – think paragliding, but with a motor attached to you.  When the time does come to fly, I’m sure he’ll steal a few glances at his Breitling’s blue dial against the backdrop of a blue sky as he relies on the plane’s computer system to get airborne and land safely.

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