The Breitling Reference 806 Navitimer is easily the most iconic model the brand ever produced, and remains near the top of virtually every vintage watch collector's wish list. Initially developed in the early 1950s, the Navitimer was designed from the ground up to be a function-first tool watch, offering a slide-rule navigation computer function operated by an internally-rotatable bezel. This incredible feature allows pilots to perform essential calculations on their wrist, long before mobile electronics were available. While the true functionality of the Navitimer is lost on most of us, there is no question that serious pilots (and astronauts) depended on their Navitimers as serious navigation tool. It has been said that the 806 spawned an entirely new category of timepieces - wrist instruments - and it would be hard to deny that.
While they were produced in large quantities since the early 1950s, the vast majority of 806s on the market today are in a sad state of affairs. Seeing as many were put to use on the job, the majority of them show some pretty serious wear, or worse - have poorly-refinished dials. One look at the complexity of the layout says it all - this is not an easy watch to refinish well. Finding a quality example is a real challenge, and in all of our time in this business, we have only come across a few worthy examples.
Fortunately you needn't worry about desirability when it comes to this spectacular example, which dates from approximately 1967. Featuring all-original glossy dial with crisp printing and no signs of water damage or heavy discoloration, this particular model features the iconic "Twin Jet" logo on the dial, and even comes with its original booklets. It is also clad in a fully steel case - whereas a large number from the same era were delivered in gold plate.
This example is powered by a high-grade Venus 178 Manual Winding chronograph movement which has just undergone an extensive mechanical restoration. In excellent condition inside and out, with beautifully patinated original lume, original bezel, crisp dial, and a sharp case, this is one of the nicest original examples we have ever encountered.
For a look at this history of this important chronograph, check out this great article by our friend Ed Estlow over at Gear Patrol, HERE.
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