I have some reservations about new vintage reissues from brands since I’m more interested in the future of watchmaking rather than the past – but that’s just me. For Breitling, speaking to a nostalgic audience is probably the right thing to do, since there is a wellspring of immediate demand from fans of the old way, and the fans of the brand are anything if not vocal.
Add into the equation a CEO like Georges Kern who understands the needs of his audience and the result is a watch like last year’s reissue of the Navitimer 806 and the new AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition announced today, a limited edition of 1,953 watches in stainless steel.
The new AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition is typical of pilots chronographs from the 1950’s, with a black dial framing a three register chronograph layout, with syringe hands, large lumed Arabic numerals and a steel bezel.
In the modern watch the details have been lovingly recreated, from the dome hesalite crystal, the identically sized 41mm case (oversized for its era but perfect now) and a bezel secured by three screws in the exact same positions.
So that you feel that you are getting a watch that looks vintage out of the box, the colour of the hand-applied Super-LumiNova has been chosen to recall the original luminescent material aged appropriately. What’s more, the 15 minute counter, comes with lumed indices at every three minute spacing, a reminder to the pilot in the old days that the final plane check should not exceed 15 minutes – a detail that will please vintage Breitling enthusiasts.
Of course, not everything is exactly the same. For example, the word “Genève” on the dial of the original has been removed since the new watch is not made there. Also, the water resistance is now at 30m, up from, and you must remember that the old watch came from the 1950’s, effectively 0m.
Lastly the movement has been upgraded, and it’s the in-house Breitling Manufacture Caliber B09, a hand-wound COSC-certified caliber based on the renowned Breitling Caliber 01, which was effectively created by ditching the automatic winding rotor. It’s a great movement though, reliable and crammed with all sorts of improvements that make it desirable for everyday wear.
Ok, I have to admit, there is something quite fascinating about recreating an old watch to have as close to 100% of its aesthetic properties with 0% of the drawbacks of owning a vintage watch. Aside from that, the new watch benefits from modern production techniques that enable more reliable performance and even a modicum of usable water resistance (to 30m in the modern watch), so that fans of the old watch can keep theirs protected in the safe, and enjoy the slings and arrows of life with the new one on their wrists.
Most folks will of course gravitate to the stainless steel version of the AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition, but there will also be two premium versions of this watch – one in red gold with black dial and one in platinum with blue dial, all the better to pretend to be a 1950’s pilot in the comfort of first class.