Breitling Navitimer
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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.

Lucky for you, we’ve sourced a lovely, all-original example of the ref. 806 that is worthy of our clients’ collections. This is the Navitimer for Navitimer geeks.

Featuring an early AOPA signed dial (Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association), this 806 dates to 1954/1955, sporting all of the most desirable Navitimer features. Besides the AOPA logo on the completely original and non-refinished dial, the bezel is also completely original, and features the early small-bead ring to boot! If you’re a Breitling guy, you’re probably drooling right now.

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). This example just happens to be one of the best on the market, so if you’ve ever had any inclination to pick up a Navitimer, this is the one to get.

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.

Details

Steel case is approximately 42mm (excluding the crown). Breitling Reference 806. Venus Calibre 178 Manual-Winding Chronograph Movement. Circa 1954

Overall condition: Case is in fantastic condition over all, with no glaring marks or defects. Completely original, un-refinished dial retains crisp printing and shows only very minimal signs of wear from age. Original luminescent elements have faded evenly to a stunning yellow-brown. Inner slide rule ring is also un-refinished. Original Breitling service hands. Original case back and signed crown.

Includes a 22mm Cask Strap by analog/shift and two nylon straps by Crown & Buckle.

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