An early, very rare and highly attractive stainless steel pilot’s chronograph wristwatch with black gilt dial and slide rule bezel

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  • Manufacturer: Breitling
    Year: 1955
    Reference No: "Pre-806"
    Case No: 844’845
    Model Name: Navitimer
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Manual, cal. 72, 17 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Leather
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel
    Dimensions: 40mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, and movement signed. Movement additionally stamped "BOW".

  • Catalogue Essay

    No stranger to pioneering feats of horology, in 1915, Breitling was among the earliest brands to launch a wristwatch chronograph. It was in 1933 that the manufacture patented a two-pusher chronograph, allowing for the first time a chronograph to time separate, successive intervals without having to reset to zero between each interval. Breitling's innovative and rich experience with chronographs resulted in one of the most iconic wristwatches of the 20th century and arguably, one of the most successful aviator's wristwatches ever: the Navitimer. Over the years, the Navitimer has undergone a variety of cosmetic and mechanical changes, yet it has always remained a timing and measuring instrument rooted in strong traditions.

    The Navitimer is a tool watch in the purest sense. Each element of the watch was designed specifically for accuracy and efficiency in execution. The beaded edge allowed for pilots to grasp and turn the bezel while wearing thick leather gloves. Its slide rule – the first ever incorporated within a wristwatch chronograph – was critical in making intricate calculations in the pre-digital era such as calculating fuel consumption, flight duration, and distance traveled.

    The "AOPA" logo, an applied gilt metal pair of wings, is the symbol of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association established in 1939 which is the largest international independent organization of pilots. The "AOPA" Navitimer was only made for the American market, and is consequently stamped on the movement with the import code, "BOW" for the Breitling Watch Corp. The present example stands out as it is an early, first generation Navitimer - referred to as a “pre-806” as it has no reference number on its caseback - and believed to have only been available for purchase to members of the AOPA. Research by the manufacture shows that the present lot comes from a batch of cases produced in January of 1955. Retaining all of its original parts and having survived in remarkable, unpolished and unrestored condition, it’s a rare and exceptional watch for the connoisseur.

  • 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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Breitling

Ref. "Pre-806"
An early, very rare and highly attractive stainless steel pilot’s chronograph wristwatch with black gilt dial and slide rule bezel

1955
40mm Diameter
Case, dial, and movement signed. Movement additionally stamped "BOW".

Estimate
$20,000 - 40,000 
CHF19,900-39,900
€17,400-34,700
HK$157,000-314,000

sold for $27,500

Contact Specialist
Paul Boutros
Head of Watches, Americas
+1 212 940 1293
pboutros@phillips.com

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