The Breitling Reference 815 is one of our favorite chronographs from the 1960s.
They feature all the hallmarks of a great sporty chronograph, including a perfectly sized 38m case with thick, straight lugs, a highly legible dial with triple-subsidiary register layout, and a tough as nails (and supremely accurate) Valjoux 7736 manually-winding chronograph movement operated by barrel pushers. And best of all, they remain under the radar and thusly less expensive than many of their period counterparts.
The example we have on offer here isn't your average 815, however. This beautiful silver Panda Dial variant was issued by the Swedish Government to employees of their state-run telephone company, the Tillhör Televerket, and features a Swedish Royal crown crest in place of Breitling's signature on the dial.
We've had the pleasure of offering a couple of these unusual chronos in the past, but this is perhaps the cleanest dial we've ever seen - with crisp printing, intact luminous pips, and a beautifully matching handset to boot.
This is a tremendously cool and rare chronograph model with an awesome story.
And that, dear friends, is what collecting vintage is all about.
Breitling first started manufacturing wrist chronographs as early as the 1930s. In 1936 they became an official supplier to military forces of the United Kingdom and Canada. While perhaps best known for the Navitimer and Chronomat lines—which were used heavily by pilots of many nations—Breitling also produced scores of other chronograph models that merit consideration, and for some esoteric purposes.
Soon after the brand’s first wrist chronographs were released, they made their way to Sweden. While some ended up on the wrists of Swedish military personnel, the chronograph we offer here ended up as the property of another entity entirely - the Televerke - a state-owned corporation that owned and operated all the phone lines in Sweden.
The Reference 815 was used by employees of Televerket who were responsible for timing switchboards. The engraving on the back reads Tilhörr Televerket or “property of Televerket.”
The telecommunications industry is an ever-changing one, with the switchboards that the employees of Televerket used now obsolete; however, this chronograph remains, a relic of a time gone by, as whimsical as a rotary phone, but much more attractive.
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