We've discovered in our many conversations with like-minded enthusiasts that when it comes to timepieces from Breitling, they either have "it," or they don't.
With polarizing designs and complicated dial aesthetics, a vast majority of collectors don't know what to make of Breitling chronographs. For the most part, we're right there along with them - hell, we don't know how to use the sliderule feature on the Navitimer 806 any better than you do - but we know it is one hell of a watch, and one that is intrinsic to the history of 20th Century aviation. Fortunately for us, Breitling also manufactured a range of timepieces in the 1960s and 70s with far simpler designs that are easier to wrap our heads around. Chronographs such as the Top Time, Superocean 2005, Datora and this beauty, a Reference 765 Co-Pilot, stand in stark contrast to their Navitimer/Cosmonaute brethren, and made us think twice before dismissing vintage Breilting as universally unwearable.
With an infinitely cleaner dial featuring a triple register layout and central chrono sweep seconds hand, the Co-Pilot model is perhaps most distinguishable by its oversized 15-minute register with pentagonal luminescent markers and rotating aluminum 12-hour bezel. The Reference 765 was initially introduced as a military aviation-spec chronograph in the mid 1950s, but was little known to civilian consumers until the early 1960s. In response to the onslaught of widely marketed sporting chronographs from Omega (Speedmaster), Heuer (Autavia and Carrera), and Rolex (Daytona), Breitling modified the appearance of the 765's dial and bezel and re-released it around 1963 for the civilian consumer market in Co-Pilot and Yacht Timer configurations.
Although less well known to collectors today than its aforementioned competitors, there is no denying the appeal of these chronographs. The Co-Pilot even went on to earn a bit of pop-culture fame as wrist candy on the equally alluring Raquel Welch in the 1967 film "Fathom". Their design, story and internals (the legendary Venus 178) are an incredibly compelling argument to the value of Breilting as a collector-worthy brand - plus they just look plain awesome!
This particular example is a true survivor in all-original condition, having been spared the common dial and lume over-restoration that tends to plague Breitlings of this era. With a crisp case and an equally stunning dial, we are thrilled to have this beauty on offer, straight from a private collection here in New York. This won't stick around long, so don't miss it!
For a terrific look at the history of the Breitling 765 Chronograph, hop over to this three part article on Monochrome, starting HERE.
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