|Year of production (circa)||
Original steel buckle
Breitling Navitimer Ref. 806
An aviation icon!
The Breitling Navitimer is very much up there when you are talking about the icons of horology, specifically in the category of pilot watches.
The history of the Navitimer began around 1942 with Willy Breitling and the development of the first pilot’s watch in the Breitling workshop, the Chronomat. Ten years later in 1952, the decision was made to further develop and enhance the Chronomat, which had become popular with US Air Force pilots, and to focus on pilot watches. This was the beginning of the Breitling Navitimer, and the rest is horological history.
This specific Navitimer from 1959 comes in at a modest 40mm case diameter and features the caliber Venus 178. Also, it comes with service papers and the replaced parts from 2009. So original dial is still there.
Always dreamt of being a pilot? This might just be the one for you.
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The Breitling Navitimer is arguably the most iconic pilot’s watch ever made. Although admirers of the Rolex GMT Master and the IWC Big Pilot might disagree. There is no arguing though, about the unique and game-changing aesthetic of the Navi, which can be traced back to the 1942 Chronomat.
The key distinguishing feature is the slide rule bezel. Breitling took the idea from its own Chronomat and improved it for the 1952 release of the Navitimer. It was a chronograph and a full-blown aviation computer, that could be used to calculate all sorts of relevant data for pilots. From distance traveled to speed and even fuel consumption.
The 1952 model featured the emblem of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the double wing logo, on its dial. This was the Ref. 806, powered by a Venus 178 manually wound chronograph caliber.
In 1969, the Navitimer was fitted with the important Caliber 11. One of three contestants for the very first ever integrated automatic chronograph movement. The others were Seiko and Zenith. While the Zenith El Primero was introduced to the public before the Cal. 11, it was the Breitling (in a conglomerate with Heuer, Hamilton-Buren and Dubois-Depraz) that was first to market. It is unknown whether Seiko may have beaten them to their Japanese home-market though, so it is generally accepted that it was a tie between the three parties.
The Navitimer was the watch of choice for the jazz legend Miles Davis. Breitling understood the power of role models and later contracted actor and avid pilot John Travolta as a Navitimer ambassador.
Whether it is the instantly recognizable design, advanced features or the celebrity endorsement, the Navitimer became a hit. Whenever you see a list of most iconic watch designs, you will surely find a Navitimer in there. It is one of those real classics, with a rich history, worthy of collecting.
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