A fine, very rare and extremely well-preserved stainless steel pilot's chronograph wristwatch with multi-scale 24 hour dial and revolving bezel

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  • Manufacturer: Breitling
    Year: Circa 1973
    Reference No: 809-36
    Case No: 1'419'455
    Model Name: Cosmonaute
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Manual, cal.7736, 17 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Leather
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel pin buckle
    Dimensions: 41mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial and movement signed
    Accessories: Accompanied by Breitling blank Garantie, world service list and two instruction booklets.

  • Catalogue Essay

    The history of the Cosmonaute begins in 1959, when Lt. Cmdr. Scott Carpenter was selected to be part of the Mercury program. He contacted Breitling, requesting a 24-hour version of the Navitimer, most probably finding the number of operations executable through the revolving bezel extremely useful for space flight. In fact, the instruction booklet accompanying the present lot details 16 different types of mathematical operations (including mean speed calculations, division, multiplication, and vertical distance calculations) that can be managed with the bezel.

    In 1961, the 24-hour Navitimer was introduced, still bearing the Navitimer reference 806 and powered by a Venus caliber 178. The name Cosmonaute was registered in June 1961, and production of reference 809 began soon after. A year later, it became the first Breitling in space, on the wrist of Lt. Carpenter. During the 1960s, a number of different variations of bezel and dial layouts were adopted, most notably the old “beady” bezel was abandoned in 1964, and the “Twin Planes” logo saw its inception in 1965. The production would cease in 1979 due to the quartz crisis.

    While the present piece will immediately captivate the attention of the collector due to its absolutely New Old Stock condition, there is another extremely attractive trait hidden inside the case of this watch. While most Cosmonaute modes are powered by the Venus caliber 178, a very restricted number of examples, bearing the reference number 809-36, are instead powered by the Valjoux caliber 7736. Indeed, the present piece is a NOS representative of this extremely rare variation.

  • Maker Bio

    Breitling

    Swiss • 1884

    The firm started by Leon Breitling in 1884 is best known for its technical aviation and oceanic watches. Today, all models are outfitted with certified chronometer movements, used for accurate timing. Early aviation pioneers in specialized chronograph timepieces, Breitling introduced the circular slide rule to watches in the 1940s for use by pilots. The firm’s most iconic chronograph, the Navitimer, was introduced in 1954 and continues to be manufactured today. Another key model is the Duograph, a split-seconds chronograph that was Breitling's most prestigious wristwatch during the 1940s through '60s. Their watches are built on their reputation for precision and sturdiness.

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168

Breitling

Ref. 809-36
A fine, very rare and extremely well-preserved stainless steel pilot's chronograph wristwatch with multi-scale 24 hour dial and revolving bezel

Circa 1973
41mm Diameter
Case, dial and movement signed

Estimate
CHF3,000 - 6,000 
€2,600-5,300
$3,100-6,100

sold for CHF8,125

Contact Specialist
Alexandre Ghotbi
Head of Sale
+41 22 317 81 89
aghotbi@phillips.com

The Geneva Watch Auction: EIGHT

Geneva Auction 10-11 November 2018