It’s the age of re-editions for brands that have a catalogue stretching back decades or more. Breitling, which boasts a legitimate link with aviation history mines its heritage by reissuing an iconic watch from 60 years ago. Meet the Navitimer Ref. 8806 1959 Re-Edition.
Although the Navitimer was first released in 1952, it was in 1959 that the Swiss brand released the Ref. 806 Navitimer, a chronograph model with a rotating slide-rule bezel, which enabled pilots make vital flight calculations from their wrist. The watch’s distinct looks – the beaded bezel, tone on tone subdials on a black dial – were quite different from the chronographs of the era and the Navitimer models that had come before it.
Such was its popularity that when these models were sold in the US, they carried the logo of the AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) on the dial. Needless to say, this model was popular with AOPA members and would go on to become a really collectible in the years to come.
The Re-Edition uses a 40.9-mm stainless steel case and retains the same lugs profile and finish as the original. Its rotating bezel has the exact same number of beads, 94, on its edge as the 1959 model. The number of beads was known to vary widely on Navitimer bezels throughout the years, from as many as 125 in the early ’50s to as few as 93 in 1960, so this detail is significant, connecting this contemporary edition to a specific vintage model’s year.
The tricompax dial, under a period-appropriate high-domed acrylic crystal rather than a modern sapphire one, is notable for its use of a vintage all-caps Breitling logo and an unsigned winged emblem beneath it. Among the new watch’s very few “concessions to modernity,” as Breitling puts it, are its increased water-resistance to 30 meters, the use of Super-LumiNova on the dial elements (in a color that approximates that of the luminous material on the original), and — as one would expect, the movement inside the case.
Breitling Manufacture Caliber B09 is an all-new, manual-wound iteration of the automatic Breitling B01 Caliber used extensively throughout the brand’s portfolio. Like its self-winding parent movement (and, in fact, all movements used in Breitling timepieces), Caliber B09 is COSC-certified for chronometer accuracy; includes a built-in chronograph with a column wheel and vertical clutch; and stores a substantial power reserve of 70 hours. Breitling says that this caliber will be used to power other historically inspired pieces yet to come.
The Breitling Navitimer Ref. 806 1959 Re-Edition is mounted on a vintage-look leather strap that recalls that of the original model, and closes with a steel pin buckle. The price for this ticking touchstone to mid-20th-century aviation is set at $8,600.