The history behind Breitling Navitimer is shrouded in mystery and uncertainty. There are plenty of myths and legends passed around the internet that have become common knowledge. However, we prefer to concentrate on the facts and not contribute to the propagation of the myths.
Dispelling The Mystery
Breitling has a very sparse record of the first release of the Navitimer model. Most collectors speculate that the initial release was in 1954 with the reference number 806. Breitling claims that the initial release of the watch was in 1952. This could be due to the fact that much like Rolex Sea Dweller was originally developed from the Submariner in collaboration with COMEX, the French deep sea diving company, Breitling Navitimer was developed in collaboration with AOPA, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, on the basis of a preexisting model Breitling Chronomat. So, more than likely both dates are accurate in the sense that Breitling released a number of prototype watches in 1952, and made them available to the public in 1954. There is some evidence out there that suggests that the Navitimer was made exactly to the AOPA specifications, however, proving that is extremely difficult as Breitling does not have records of such an extensive involvement by AOPA.
“The Works” What Distinguishes The Original Navitimer From The Rest
One thing is true, the watch was made, it did bare an AOPA logo, and is highly valued to this day as one of the best pilots watches on the market. According to the experts, Navitimer watches produced before 1954 had a Venus 178 movement inside and did not have an "806" stamp on the back. In 1954 when Breitling began producing the Navitimer with a Valjoux 72 movement which also lacked the "806" designation making them the first and highly thought after Navitimer watches. According to the AOPA records, the initial release of the Navitimer was only available to its members which would explain the absence of a reference number stamped on case as well as a discrepancy in the believed release date.
The Rare “B”
The first Navitimer timepieces featured a black dial with an AOPA logo on it or a classic "B" on the dial. It is extremely rare to find a first release Navitimer with a golden "B" as there were only a few ever made. The true number of the "B" Navitimer timepieces is unknown. If you find one, lets us know, we would love to make you an offer.
806 Model vs. 809 Model
In 1961 Breitling released a 24-hour version of the Navitimer 806 and shortly thereafter gave it a new model number 809. Since it took almost a year to change the reference number of the 24-hour Navitimer 806 to the Navitimer Cosmonaute 809, collectors around the world universally agree that all none 24-hour Navitimer watches produced between 1953 and 1961 are to be designated as the 806 and those that were produced with a 24-hour function after 1962 are the Navitimer Cosmonaute 809.
The name change was not the only change that Breitling made to the Navitimer in the 1960's. Up until the mid 1960's, the Navitimer was available with a black dial. After the early sixties, the dial was replaced with a new, silver version. The change to a new dial color started slowly as can be seen in some Navitimer watches from the late 1950's and early 1960's. There are examples of a 1959 Navitimers with a set of silver sub dials and a black dial.
Various Styles, Same Great Watch
There were many iterations of the dial to follow. For instance, the later AOPA dial featured a different AOPA logo, in 1970's the sub dials were enlarged and the markers were changed and enlarged. Regardless of the numerous changes, the watch did not lose any of its functionality or style. Breitling kept the classic, unmistakable look while slowly modifying the watch.
Breitling Navitimer is a watch with a mysterious history and one of the most subtle style transitions. To this day, the Navitimer remains to be a favorite among pilots as well as maritime enthusiasts. Ermitage Jewelers has a large collection of Breitling Navitimer watches available in our Atlanta store as well as online. We guarantee an authentic, high quality product at unbeatable prices. Whether you are looking for a vintage watch or a more modern Breitling, Ermitage Jewelers has a wide variety to choose from. We offer 10 day money back guarantee and a 1 year limited warranty so you can be sure that you truly love your watch.
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