Breitling Navitimer

Breitling Navitimer

How many watches are can you spot from a mile away? How many watches have come to define their genre? Besides the Breitling Navitimer, not too many. Not too many at all. 

When Breitling designed the Navitimer in the early 1950s, the concept of a civilian tool watch was a novel idea. Watch companies produced a few purpose-designed pieces for military use in the early 20th century, but most watches that were sold at retailers were designed with purely fashion in mind. In the 1950s and 1960s, the tool watch market exploded, fueled by the popularity of SCUBA diving and the growing interest in aviation.  Breitling was one of the earliest manufactures to respond to the trend when they released the Navitimer in 1954.

We’ve been referring to the Navitimer as a watch, but that’s not quite right. This is a wrist-worn navigation computer. The Navitimer’s most distinctive feature, the slide rule bezel, is used by pilots to calculate airspeed, ascent and decent rates, flight time, distance traveled, fuel consumption and even imperial to metric unit conversions. The Navitimer truly is a computer, and also happens to be one of the best damn looking watches out there. How cool is that?

Breitling has been selling Navitimers consistently since the 1950s, so we can’t say that vintage 806s are a rare find. Yet while there are a lot of them out there, finding one in good condition is not an easy task. For whatever reason, most were not treated very well by their original owners and are now in a sad shape, which is an unfortunate fate for any watch, let alone one of the most iconic pieces ever made. Refinished dials run rampant, and calling the wear to dials “patina” is often a generous use of the term.

Whether you’re looking for a pilot's watch or just a cool vintage chronograph, the Navitimer is a worthy consideration. It’s as iconic as any watch can be, and there’s a reason why Breitling has been making them for five decades (answer: they’re awesome). 

For a look at this history of this important chronograph, check out this great article by our friend Ed Estlow over at Gear Patrol HERE.


Stainless Steel case is approximately 40mm (excluding crown). Breitling Reference 806. Venus 178 Manually Winding Chronograph Movement. 1960s.

Overall Condition: The watch is in very good condition over all, with a few light blemished visible on the stainless steel case, namely on the edge of the case back. No signs of over polishing. The genuine Breitling 'Twin Jet' dial is in very nice condition with a lovely even patina. Some darkening visible along the white outer track from 7:00 to 12:00. Inner dial printing is crisp and sharp. Genuine handset is missing some of the original lume, but is in otherwise excellent condition with a matching patina. Fluted bezel spins easily. Domes acrylic crystal is in very good condition. Breitling-signed crown and snap case back.

Includes two 22mm nylon straps by Crown & Buckle.

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