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Why We Love it
How many watches can you spot from a mile away? How many watches have come to singularly define their genre? Not too many. Not too many at all.
The Breitling Cosmonaute is one of the most instantly recognizable models from the aviation-centric brand, in no small part due to because of it’s close resemblance to the Navitimer, with which it shares a case, movement, and most of its design elements. The main disparity between the Ref. 806 Navitimer and the Ref. 809 Navitimer Cosmonaute is in the latter's modified movement and dial - designed to convey time in a 24-Hour day, instead of 12. These special modifications were designed specifically for use in space.
Breitling has been making Navitimers consistently since the 1950s, so we can’t say that vintage examples are a rare find. Yet while there are a lot of them out there, finding one in good condition is not an easy task. 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 found on most dials “patina” is often a generous use of the term.
Lucky for you, this example is an entirely untouched and well preserved example of the Ref. 809 that is worthy of a place of pride in your collection. Featuring an early AOPA signed dial (Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association), this 809 dates to approximately 1965.
If you’re looking for a serious pilot's watch, the Navitimer Cosmonaute is a worthy consideration. 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 Cossie, this is the one to get!
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.
Most passers-by would refer to the Navitimer as a watch, but that’s not quite right. This is a wrist-worn navigational 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.
On the 24th May 1962, the Astronaut Scott Carpenter orbited the Earth three times in the Aurora 7 space capsule. Aiding him in his endeavours was a Breitling Navitimer Cosmonaute with 24-hour dial. The special design in place of the usual 12-hour denomination was suggested by the astronaut as it was not possible to distinguish between day and night when in orbit. As a result of this connection, collectors now refer to the reference 809 with 24-hour dial as the “Scott Carpenter” and is viewed as an attractive alternative to the Omega Speedmaster to acquire a manually wound chronograph with a connection to space travel.
Steel case is approximately 42mm (excluding the crown). Breitling Reference 809. Venus Calibre 178 Manual-Winding Chronograph Movement With 24-Hour Functionality. Circa 1965.
Overall condition: Case is in great condition overall, showing light signs of polishing but no glaring marks or defects. Completely untouched dial retains crisp printing and shows only very minimal signs of wear from age. Original luminescent elements have faded evenly with rich patination. Inner slide rule ring is also un-refinished. Signed crown and case back.
Includes a 22mm leather strap.
Analog/Shift stands behind the authenticity of our products in perpetuity.
We back each Analog/Shift vintage timepiece with a one-year mechanical warranty from the date of purchase.
All of our watches include complementary insured shipping within the 50 states. We are happy to hand deliver your purchase in Manhattan or you may pick it up at our showroom.
Please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options