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PostPosted: Sun Dec 29, 2019 7:00 pm 
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Breitling Old Navitimer I.jpg

For the vintage-loving crowd, this one's a classic! My Breitling Old Navitimer I, model reference 81610 (also referred to as the A13019), dates to approximately 1990 by serial number. This beauty's 41.5mm (bezel diameter, the case diameter is closer to 40mm), and has a relatively compact lug-to-lug length of 48mm, perfect for a smaller to mid-size wrist.

This one came with its rarely-found original Breitling oyster-style bracelet with curved end-links and "B"-signed clasp. Most of these vintage Navitimers survive today only on leather Breitling (or Breitling-style) straps. Just imagine this one with a blue Breitling strap complimenting the "creme-de-la-patina" dial.

The movement found in these early (but by no means earliest, as they go back to the 1950's) Navitimers is the automatic 17-jewel ETA Valjoux 7750 chronograph movement, which by the mid-90's was being upgraded to the 25-jewel version. Remember, this was long before Breitling was manufacturing in-house movements. The advantage of these ubiquitous workhorse Valjoux's is that they are easily and relatively inexpensively repaired or replaced. The modern in-house Breitling movements...well, that's a whole other matter, as sweet as they are...and they sure are.

Note the Panda dial on this one, truly showing its age no doubt, with patinaed tritium indices ("T Swiss"). Other great features include the original "B"-signed crown and slightly domed acrylic crystal.

It's important to note a few things about this early automatic Old Navitimer reference 81610:

(1) The center chrono seconds hand did not have the stylized "B" extension on the tail. I'm pretty sure the stylized B started with the reference 13022 Navitimer.

(2) The movement rotor on this particular model (and possibly the 13019 which this model number transitioned to) was completely unsigned, although clearly stamped "7750" and "Val". Because of the unsigned rotor, there are online posts that have questioned the authenticity of the watch or movement, quite appropriately perhaps, however incorrectly. Having said that, it is possible that there are models like mine out there with signed rotors, although the ones I've seen of this particular model have been unsigned.

(3) The Breitling bracelets, rare as they are to come by, were not code-marked other than having the stylized "B"-signed clasp. Since they are so rare -- some reports indicate that they were produced only for the 81610 model (although see reply post in this regard by arcadelt below) -- questions have been raised about authenticity, again incorrectly.

Some of the real positives for these vintages is that they still look fantastic, are always in demand, and cost a heck of a lot less than the new ones. Modern steel versions generally sell for easily double the vintages, and then some. I am not suggesting that vintages are 'better'...I don't judge, I just wear what I like or at least can afford!


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Last edited by dlack on Mon Dec 30, 2019 6:04 am, edited 2 times in total.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 29, 2019 8:07 pm 
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dlack wrote:
The Breitling bracelets, rare as they are to come by, were not code-marked other than having the stylized "B"-signed clasp. Since they are so rare -- some reports indicate that they were produced only for the 81610 model -- questions have been raised about authenticity, again incorrectly.


Thanks for the information on the 81610.

While I agree they are rare, the Oyster bracelet was available as an option on the 81600, which pre-dates the 81610, and is also often found on the later Navitimer Patrouille de France and Old Navitimer Mecanique.

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