Introduced in 1967, the Breitling Sprint was released as a part of a less expensive collection of sporty models to provide an alternative to the 'professional grade' Navitimer. At the time, these dual-register chronographs offered a ton of value with a retail price of $120 on a leather strap.
This particular Sprint, a Reference 2010, features a 38mm stainless steel case and is fitted a matte black 'reverse-panda' dial with deeply patinated Tritium luminous plots. A vivid orange center seconds chronograph hand and red elements on the 45-minute register at 3:00 brighten up the dark dial. Power for timekeeping and chrono functions comes from the Valjoux 7733 manually-winding movement. Externally, a lovely faded timing bezel with red triangle indicator, barrel pushers, and an oversized winding crown round out the 'totally 60s' package.
All said, Breitling may be better known for its larger, more 'serious' instruments, but the Sprint is a worthy contender for a proper sporting chronograph with style and mechanical chops - all for half the price of an entry level Navitimer!
Breitling was founded in 1892, and while still around today, the company is no longer in the hands of the Breitling family. The late 1970s was a turbulent time for the Swiss watch industry, and many storied houses were swept away by the Quartz Crisis. By 1978, Breitling was in trouble due to the illness of its leader, Willy Breitling, and the steep decline in sales that had cut through the entire industry. Unable to keep operations going, the Breitling company was liquidated, and parts, toolings and naming rights were sold off. One of the best aviation watch companies was no more, but they left behind a large range of incredible watches.
Breitling has been surprisingly slow to catch fire with vintage collectors, especially since the history of the brand and their ties to aviation are unimpeachable. Sure, many of their watches have polarizing designs and complicated dial aesthetics (hell, we don't know how to use the slide rule feature on the Navitimer 806 any better than you do), but their cleaner designs embody the best of 1960s and 1970s chronograph design and shouldn’t be overlooked.
If we had our druthers, Breitling would be one of the top dogs in the world of vintage watches, and we’re confident that in time, they will be. Sure, vintage Navitimers and Superoceans command high prices, but there is so much more to the brand beyond those classics.
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