There are a lot of words to describe this wristwatch, but the best one to sum it all up would probably be "WOW".
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 1959. Featuring all-original dial printing and no signs of water damage or heavy discoloration, this particular model also features the desirable AOPA logo on the dial, signifying that it was likely sold through the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association at the end of the 50s. It also features the early "beaded" thin bezel design, later replaced by a taller, less ornate version. It is clad in a fully steel case - whereas a large number from the same era were delivered in gold plate.
This highly sought-after timepiece is powered by a high-grade Venus 178 Manual Winding chronograph movement which has just undergone an extensive mechanical restoration. In excellent condition inside an out, with particularly incredible original lume, crisp dial, and a sharp case, this is easily the nicest example we have ever encountered.
We admit that 806s aren't necessarily an uncommon find - but try and find another that looks anything like this one!
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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