When you think of Breitling Navitimer Cosmonaute replica watches associated with space (and space programs), it probably calls to mind the Omega Speedmaster, or perhaps the Poljot Strela. Did you know that Breitling also has a watch associated with the great space race of the mid-20th century? It did, and Breitling is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the watch's flight into space.
On May 24th, 1962, a Breitling Navitimer was on the wrist of Lt. Cmdr. Scott Carpenter as he orbited the Earth three times in an Aurora 7 capsule. What separated this watch from others of its day was the fact that it featured a 24-hour dial, allowing for easy demarcation between day and night (which isn't an easy thing to do when you're orbiting the globe). A couple years ago Breitling released a limited edition Navitimer Cosmonaute in honor of Mr. Carpenter's mission (hands-on here). Now, in 2013, Breitling has released the Navitimer Cosmonaute Blacksteel... in black steel.
The case of the Breitling Navitimer Cosmonaute Blacksteel, 43 mm in diameter and water-resistant to 30 meters, was blackened using the same process as last year's Avenger Seawolf Blacksteel model, in which a highly-resistant carbon-based coating is added to the steel. The dial echoes the case's black color, while white numerals and hands, coated with luminescent material, and small red hands for the chronograph counters provide contrast. Like that of its historical predecessor, the new Navitimer Cosmonaute's dial features a circular slide rule, operated by the bezel, that enables its wearer to make various useful calculations and proclaims the model's origins as a practical timepiece for pilots. The 24-hour graduated scale - the feature that most attracted Scott Carpenter to the watch, as it enabled him to discern day from night while in orbit around the earth - is also replicated here.
As you would expect from a luxury timepiece, the watch features a sapphire crystal; perhaps less expected is the perforated rubber strap (though, the strap would be handy if you test out the 30m WR rating at all). Overall, I think the style of the piece is well executed for all that is being placed into the watch. Overall "at-a-glance" readability should be OK, once you wrap your mind around a 24-hour dial (they do take some getting used to). As to the slide rule, I think it's one of those things that, if you're not using it, it'll fade into the background.