Why We Love it
Why We Love it–
March 22, 1952.
Ensign Schechter flew over Wongsang-ni in his A-1 Skyraider. It was his 27th mission as part of the Fighter Squadron 194, known as the Yellow Devils. His objective: the transportation structures that the enemy relied on for troop maneuvers.
Suddenly, a blinding light obscured his view—an enemy shell had exploded in the cockpit of his plane, ripping off the canopy.
Inadvertently, he pulled his aircraft into a cloud bank that shielded him from help—if any was coming at all.
With blood pouring over his eyes and his ears ringing with the roar of the plane’s Wright R-3350 engine, he continued to cry for help.
A voice crackled over the microphone—a familiar voice, one he’d heard every day, in the officer’s mess or in their shared berth on the Valley Forge.
The voice belonged to Lt. Howard Thayer, Schechter’s roommate. With authority in his voice, he commanded Schechter to, “Put your nose down.” He drew his plane alongside the crippled Skyraider, shouting orders to Schechter, guiding him out of North Korean airspace to an airfield about 30 miles away.
Schechter wrote, “I continued to follow Thayer’s directions, but he could see that my head kept flopping down from time to time and he doubted that I could make it to K-18, so he decided to get me down right away.”
A decision had to be made, and fast. Though Thayer urged his friend and comrade in arms to bail out of his aircraft, Schechter refused, knowing that the odds of his survival were slim to none. So Thayer searched for a solution, and found one in a disused airstrip just past the front lines.
Blinded by blood, Schechter couldn’t locate the controls for the airplane’s landing gear, so with Thayer’s cool instructions (“Flaps down, pull back a little, you’re okay, you’re okay”) ringing in his ear, brought the fighter to a sliding landing on its belly.
That same year, a watch would debut that would find its way on the wrist of pilots like Schechter and Thayer: the Breitling Navitimer.
It received its name, famously, due to its incorporation of a working slide rule bezel (taken from the earlier Chronomat) for use by pilots. There’s no question that pilots like Schechter would have found great use in pieces like this one. The Navitimer spawned an entirely new category of timepieces—wrist instruments—and its importance cannot be understated.
Undoubtedly, it found great acclaim among the members of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Assocation, or AOPA. Indeed, the earliest Navitimers were sold with the AOPA logo on the dial. For their part, the association claimed that the Navitimer was “completely designed and engineered to AOPA specifications.”
Early iterations of the Navitimer had black-on-black dials with white or gold printing, being replaced with the now-classic silver-on-black appearance (featured here) in 1959.
Looking at the patina on this particular Navitimer, it’s not hard to imagine it in action. Perhaps it was worn by a pilot like Schechter. Imagine what adventures it has seen, thousands of feet above land.
Analog:Shift stands behind the authenticity of our products in perpetuity.
Since our pieces are vintage or pre-owned, please expect wear & patina from usage and age. Please read each item description and examine all product images.
We back each Analog:Shift vintage timepiece with a one-year mechanical warranty from the date of purchase.
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Shipping & Returns
Shipping & Returns+
All of our watches include complementary insured shipping within the 50 states.
Most of our products are on hand and will ship directly from our headquarters in New York City. In some cases, watches will be shipped directly from one of our authorized partners.
We generally ship our products via FedEx, fully insured, within 5 business days of purchase. An adult signature is required for receipt of all packages for insurance purposes. Expedited shipping is available at an additional cost. We are also happy to hand deliver your purchase in Manhattan or you may pick it up at our showroom.
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