One of my favorites from my collection, purchased in July of 2015, is a 1970 Venus 178 Breitling 806 Navitimer twin jet with nice provenance.
The 41 mm diameter stainless steel Navtimer case features a caseback that’s engraved “Drew Pirie” — who was a golf pro, pilot, and son of Andy Pirie, an Australian commando in WWII who bought and engraved the watch for him. (Over the years, dating back to the original in 1952, Navitimers have come in 38 mm, 41 mm, 43 mm, and 46 mm case diameters. The 806, however, has come only in 38 mm and 41 mm diameters.)
Special thanks to Fred Mandelbaum (@Watchfred) and Eric (@faded_lume) for authenticating the watch for me prior to purchase and Eric for finding and getting information via a Facebook search of Andy Pirie through his son Drew after I made the purchase.
In the early 1950s, Breitling collaborated with the AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) to make the slide rule bezel of its Chronomat even more relevant to pilots. They jointly produced the Navitimer. The slide rule bezel contains two logarithmic scales. The outer scale rotates bi-directionally, and the inner scale is fixed. Together, they can perform a variety of calculations. Pilots primarily used the Navitimer to calculate speed and distance. This would help them to track important elements such as flight times, fuel consumption, or wind impact. If you’re not a pilot like most of us, you can still use the Navitimer’s slide rule bezel for more applicable daily life events such as calculating the tip on a bill, converting miles to kilometers, Fahrenheit to Celsius, or even dollars to Euros.
The very first 806 Navitimers models came with all-black dials but eventually, the sub-registers were changed to white and increased in size to make them more legible. Navitimers 806s were available up to the end of the original Breitling company in 1978-1979 and with the modern Breitling company since the Navitimer Ref. 806 1959 Re-Edition from 2019.
The new Navitimer Ref. 806 1959 Re-Editions look great, however, I prefer the vintage 806 Navtimers and you can typically still find them for less than the modern version.
Weight: 66 grams (watch head only)
Case Diameter: 41 mm
Case Thickness: 12.7 mm (with crystal)
Lug-to-Lug: 48 mm
Lug width: 22 mm
Glass: Acrylic Crystal
Movement: Venus 178 (manual wind)
Photos by Brett K.