If you want a racing watch, get a Heuer. If you want a dive watch, get a Rolex. If you want an aviation watch, get a Breitling. If you were a pilot in the 1970s, there’s a good chance that a Breitling was on your wrist.
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.
The Reference 1450 chronograph is a vintage Breitling that all of us can wrap our heads around. With a classic vintage cushion case with hooded lugs, it has a similar aesthetic to Omega and Heuer offerings, and the silver sub-registers complement the large steel case perfectly. The dial design is Breitling at its best--a clean black dial, tasteful tachymeter scale, and thin tritium lume plots that pair well with the white stick hands. Powered by a Valjoux 7736 movement, the Reference 1450 is just an all-around great vintage chronograph, and a tremendous value coming from one of the best brands around during the golden age of sports chronos.
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. Whether you’re just looking around for a great vintage chronograph or want to fulfill your pilot fantasies, the Reference 1450 is an excellent option.
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