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PostPosted: Wed Sep 15, 2010 1:17 pm 
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Chris K's original translation wrote:

We thank you for your letter and are pleased with your interest in our Breitling vintage timepieces.
We shall try to answer a part of your questions.
The Navitimer was produced in 1952 but until 1954 the watch was not yet sold in the public.
Before 1954 the watch was produced as small series "Government Issue" and it was named Navigation Timer.
Hence the name Navitimer, registered in 1955.
As it is frequently the case with the Government, documents have not been made available.
Besides, because it concerned watches for military purposes, they probably have been destroyed afterwards.
In 1958 presumably a series of Navitimers was produced which was equipped with back covers from the year 1953.
Therefore it can occur that a Navitimer with a dial from 1958 has a serial number from 1953.
Our cooperation with AOPA started only in the year 1954.
The contract (original or copy) unfortunately is not in our archives.
Unfortunately all other documents requested by you also do not exist in our archives anymore.
We hope that the above information have made the situation somewhat more understandable.


Takeaway #1 from this is: Where are these pre-1954 "military-only Navigation Timers? Nothing is so rare that we have not seen at least one example and I have never seen one. Has anyone else around here? Are we to assume that these are the models with Valjoux 72 in them and that the surplus was eventually released to the Public in 1954 (not a bad theory, IMO)? Are there none extant with military caseback issue marks? And what "military" are we speaking of here: Swiss, German, French, USA, etc? Strange that a specific country's military is not mentioned as the original purchaser of these 1952 Navigation Timers.

Love to see one in the metal or maybe someone has a pic--KurtB, ChrisK? Obviously must be ultra rare if one has not surfaced to date...very hard to believe that all of them would have been destroyed. Pilots tend to get attached to their instruments...

Takeaway #2: Breitling does not have documents to categorically prove that 1953 backs wound up on 1958 models of 806--the gentleman from Breitling is merely stating that it is "probable"/"possible" (and I wonder whether the idea is his or has been furnished to him--sounds like he is repeating it back to me). Although I have to say, I am delighted to hear an official of the company confirm that Breitling could have made a mistake with their serial number/case/dial chronology, which so many aficionados appear to completely rule out in every other possibility but this one. If the 806 could be subject to re-use of out of sequence parts/serial numbers in rare instances, why not other models occasionally?

Also and very importantly: Even if Breitling did indeed put 1953 backs on 1958+ 806 Navis, that does not, as some around here have forcefully declared make them "wrong":

KurtB wrote:
So at least now we have solved the questionable 1953 pieces with the characteristics of a later watch circa 1960’s:, and I assume that we can agree that they are wrong.


ChrisK wrote:
Those dubious "53ers" have the same dial as the 806 Navitimers produced in 1959.
Why was this dial held back 6 years until 1959?


Can't have it both ways--can't believe both that A) Breitling did indeed hold back some casebacks and affix them to cases/dials several years later and then B) somehow that makes these 806s "dubious" or "questionable" or "wrong."

I would also point to this prior statement by KurtB on the difficulty of simply mounting any caseback to any 806 case:

KurtB wrote:
Casebacks are definitely not interchangeable I can guarantee you of that; I believe that they was made in small batches, and then customized to fit each watch case , if they didn’t already do so.

If you take a handful of watches within 20-30 margin in serial numbers, then 1 out of 10 might fit, and the rest can easily be fitted if you know how to do it, but a caseback from one year of production will not fit one from another year, it can be made to fit by a pro (I have a toolmaker that can do magic), but it takes a serious knowledge as how to do, and will require the right tools.


Again, you can't have it both ways. Either the casebacks in the out-of-sequence examples had to have been fitted by someone with the "right tools" (i.e. most likely Breitling) and therefore these 53/58 806s are official production (however anomalous) or the caseback matching difficulty is overrated and not an indicator of authenticity at all really.

Same goes for using the above letter as validating the "first Navitimer" argument: If the letter says they were first produced in 1952, although maybe not signed "Navitimer," they would still share all the general characteristics of an 806, no? Maybe they even had a remarkable dial with all of the nomenclature Breitling would eventually use on their 806s--"B" "Breitling Geneve" "Navitimer" but no AOPA wings perhaps? Who knows what a pre-1954 Navitimer might look like, since we are being told both that they can't exist and that this letter proves they exist at the same time. Confusing, to say the least...

Of course, I too would like to see one of these miracle "military Navigation Timer" models. But then, I am not advocating that this letter is somehow the Gospel According to Breitling either...

I think at best, it is very interesting information but I would hardly categorize it as "proof" of anything, as over and over the fellow states he has no documentation to reference. File under slightly better than Anecdotal, IMO.
Best,
T.

Source for quotes: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=17092&start=30


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 1:06 pm 
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Let me make it simple, and remember that this is my opinion.

The pre-1954 "military-only Navigation Timers never existed, this is Breitlings attempt to get closer to what most collectors worldwide believe – that the 1954 Valjoux 72 AOPA Navitimers was the first ones, but since they have stated like forever that it was launched in 1952 they can’t just once of a sudden change their mind. With this statement they indicate that the first Navitimer came out in 1954, but hold on to their previous 1952 story.

What is your definition of “wrong” will you call a vintage watch produced in 1958 + with a 1953 case back right ?
They can be right or wrong from here to eternity, but to watch collectors a watch like that will never be acknowledged as the “real deal”.

With respect to your opinion about the letter from Breitling, I completely agree, it can not be categorized as "proof" of anything, and I did not post it as proof of anything.


/ Kurt B


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 Post subject: Re: Navitimer 806 AOPA
PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:26 am 
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Location: Germany
Don`t we have some Forum members in Switzerland ( ideally in the area of the Breitling factory in the 1950`s ), who could try to find some former Breitling employees to answer some of our questions ?
I know they will at least be between 80 and 90 years of age and it`s pretty unlikely that somebody is able to recall those little details, which give room for so many speculation and interpretation in this forum.
But perhaps there is an old aficionado out there in the swiss countryside with a brain like a 20-GB-harddrive, who is just waiting to share his memories to enlighten us poor mortals a bit !
Why not try, there`s always a chance.

daydreaming, Julius


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 5:59 am 
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Kurt B wrote:
What is your definition of “wrong” will you call a vintage watch produced in 1958 + with a 1953 case back right ?
They can be right or wrong from here to eternity, but to watch collectors a watch like that will never be acknowledged as the “real deal”.


My definition of "wrong" in the vintage watch world is: something that has been put together by a third party/non-manufacturer to deceive or by mistake.

On the other hand, I have seen many watches that are perfectly legit but do not fit the standard "rules." Vintage Rolex, for example, with mismatched caseback dates to serial numbers or mismatched reference numbers (sometimes double stamped) that were assembled that way at the Rolex factory from new (see 1st generation 1665 Sea-Dwellers with early 1970s serials but 1967 caseback stamps as one example). These watches cannot be considered "wrong" and are indeed the "real deal" because they were produced by Rolex at their factories, however out of sequence. Vintage Rolex collectors, at least, and I'm sure many other brands' enthusiasts with such understandable anomalies (and there are many other examples, of course), consider them 100% legitimate and without stigma because enough examples have surfaced and enough research has corroborated this anomaly.

So if Breitling happened to do the same by using up old cases/backs and adding movements and dials a few years after they had been stamped so they could still sell the watches (as you have previously maintained, I might add), how can the Navitimers that were so assembled by Breitling at the Breilting factory in this manner be "wrong?" And how is it that Breitling collectors have evolved such a strict standard of "rightness" that it excludes factory-produced watches from their criteria of authenticity? Seems bonkers to me but maybe you and I simply do not share the same standards as vintage watch collectors, as you are focused on one brand exclusively while I collect and have experience with many marques in addition to Breitling.

Hope that was clear enough for you,
T.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 10:36 am 
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So let's make an excample.

We have a perfect & legit DRSD that fit the standard rules & books, and one with a somehow mismatched caseback, a caseback that almost for certain was original to the watch, but according to the "standard rules" and the books belongs to a white 1665 or a Rail Dial.

Would those 2 watches fetch the same price if sold on TZ or VRF ?

IMO the answer to that is clearly, no they would not..... Simply because we want our vintage watches to be correct according to the standard rules and the books if we are to pay top $ for them. I have discussed that subject with 2 very serious Vintage Rolex collectors this afternoon and they agree.

And remember that in the vintage Breitling world the early AOPA Navitimers are probably the most sought after watches of them all.

I don't recall to have stated that Breitling used up old casebacks on those watches, those words came from Breitling. I don't know how it happened, but my guess is that they was misstamped, as why should Breitling have 1953 Navitimer casebacks on stock if they did not produce Navitimers in 1953.

I hold the highest standard as a vintage watch collector, and it has always been my opinion that you do as well.


/ Kurt B

tomvox1 wrote:
Kurt B wrote:
What is your definition of “wrong” will you call a vintage watch produced in 1958 + with a 1953 case back right ?
They can be right or wrong from here to eternity, but to watch collectors a watch like that will never be acknowledged as the “real deal”.


My definition of "wrong" in the vintage watch world is: something that has been put together by a third party/non-manufacturer to deceive or by mistake.

On the other hand, I have seen many watches that are perfectly legit but do not fit the standard "rules." Vintage Rolex, for example, with mismatched caseback dates to serial numbers or mismatched reference numbers (sometimes double stamped) that were assembled that way at the Rolex factory from new (see 1st generation 1665 Sea-Dwellers with early 1970s serials but 1967 caseback stamps as one example). These watches cannot be considered "wrong" and are indeed the "real deal" because they were produced by Rolex at their factories, however out of sequence. Vintage Rolex collectors, at least, and I'm sure many other brands' enthusiasts with such understandable anomalies (and there are many other examples, of course), consider them 100% legitimate and without stigma because enough examples have surfaced and enough research has corroborated this anomaly.

So if Breitling happened to do the same by using up old cases/backs and adding movements and dials a few years after they had been stamped so they could still sell the watches (as you have previously maintained, I might add), how can the Navitimers that were so assembled by Breitling at the Breilting factory in this manner be "wrong?" And how is it that Breitling collectors have evolved such a strict standard of "rightness" that it excludes factory-produced watches from their criteria of authenticity? Seems bonkers to me but maybe you and I simply do not share the same standards as vintage watch collectors, as you are focused on one brand exclusively while I collect and have experience with many marques in addition to Breitling.

Hope that was clear enough for you,
T.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 1:50 pm 
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Kurt B wrote:
So let's make an excample.

We have a perfect & legit DRSD that fit the standard rules & books, and one with a somehow mismatched caseback, a caseback that almost for certain was original to the watch, but according to the "standard rules" and the books belongs to a white 1665 or a Rail Dial.

Would those 2 watches fetch the same price if sold on TZ or VRF ?

IMO the answer to that is clearly, no they would not..... Simply because we want our vintage watches to be correct according to the standard rules and the books if we are to pay top $ for them. I have discussed that subject with 2 very serious Vintage Rolex collectors this afternoon and they agree.


I know what you are saying about watches "with a story." That being said, the "standard rules" do evolve over time as we learn more. An example, as long as we are talking Rolex Sea Dwellers, would be late production Double Reds with round Rolex casebacks. At first they were considered "wrong." Now, they are accepted:

http://www.doubleredseadweller.com/dr_casebacks.htm

And prices for these pieces, because they all share common characteristics (serial number range, inner caseback serial numbers), are not adversely affected anymore.

Kurt B wrote:
I don't recall to have stated that Breitling used up old casebacks on those watches, those words came from Breitling. I don't know how it happened, but my guess is that they was misstamped, as why should Breitling have 1953 Navitimer casebacks on stock if they did not produce Navitimers in 1953.


However it might have occurred, you do seem to advocate that it was Breitling themselves that made the "mistake" in the timeline of these casebacks. So I really don't understand how you can feel that these 806s with "1953 casebacks & 1959 dials" which all seem to share common characteristics (yours/the Heists/Chris K's theory) are "wrong" per se. If anything, it makes the watch a bit more interesting.

But then, I readily admit to being biased...
:wink:
Best,
T.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 29, 2010 9:32 am 
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Of course you are biased … :wink:

There’s not much doubt in my mind that they are original Breitling watches, I also admit that to some point of view they are interesting, as all the discussions we have had here proves that, and I doubt that this one is the last one.

But since it (at least to me, The Heists, Chris K, :lingsrock: themselves and more or less all of the Navitimer know ledged people I know) is quite clear that they was produced after 1958, I just can’t see how they can ever be considered as being 1953 AOPA Navitimers.

As previously mentioned then they can be wrong or right from here to eternity, but IMO a right watch is a watch that is right in every possible way, and if it’s not right in every possible way, then I can’t see any other solution then that it is wrong.

/ Kurt B




tomvox1 wrote:
Kurt B wrote:
So let's make an excample.

We have a perfect & legit DRSD that fit the standard rules & books, and one with a somehow mismatched caseback, a caseback that almost for certain was original to the watch, but according to the "standard rules" and the books belongs to a white 1665 or a Rail Dial.

Would those 2 watches fetch the same price if sold on TZ or VRF ?

IMO the answer to that is clearly, no they would not..... Simply because we want our vintage watches to be correct according to the standard rules and the books if we are to pay top $ for them. I have discussed that subject with 2 very serious Vintage Rolex collectors this afternoon and they agree.


I know what you are saying about watches "with a story." That being said, the "standard rules" do evolve over time as we learn more. An example, as long as we are talking Rolex Sea Dwellers, would be late production Double Reds with round Rolex casebacks. At first they were considered "wrong." Now, they are accepted:

http://www.doubleredseadweller.com/dr_casebacks.htm

And prices for these pieces, because they all share common characteristics (serial number range, inner caseback serial numbers), are not adversely affected anymore.

Kurt B wrote:
I don't recall to have stated that Breitling used up old casebacks on those watches, those words came from Breitling. I don't know how it happened, but my guess is that they was misstamped, as why should Breitling have 1953 Navitimer casebacks on stock if they did not produce Navitimers in 1953.


However it might have occurred, you do seem to advocate that it was Breitling themselves that made the "mistake" in the timeline of these casebacks. So I really don't understand how you can feel that these 806s with "1953 casebacks & 1959 dials" which all seem to share common characteristics (yours/the Heists/Chris K's theory) are "wrong" per se. If anything, it makes the watch a bit more interesting.

But then, I readily admit to being biased...
:wink:
Best,
T.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 4:58 am 
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Kurt B wrote:
Of course you are biased … :wink:

There’s not much doubt in my mind that they are original Breitling watches, I also admit that to some point of view they are interesting, as all the discussions we have had here proves that, and I doubt that this one is the last one.

But since it (at least to me, The Heists, Chris K, :lingsrock: themselves and more or less all of the Navitimer know ledged people I know) is quite clear that they was produced after 1958, I just can’t see how they can ever be considered as being 1953 AOPA Navitimers.


Agree...providing the theory is accurate.

Kurt B wrote:
As previously mentioned then they can be wrong or right from here to eternity, but IMO a right watch is a watch that is right in every possible way, and if it’s not right in every possible way, then I can’t see any other solution then that it is wrong.


Disagree for the reasons stated extensively above. "Wrong" and "assembled as new by the manufacturer" just do not belong in the same sentence for me; obviously you have evolved a different (might I say "immaculate"?) conception of "wrong." So I will leave it at that...except to say that you have changed your tune about these examples since when you first "discovered" their possible origins. I have the email to prove it. :wink:
But, of course, that too is a collector's prerogative....
Best,
T.


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