Here’s my 817
It was produced in the mid-70's for Helicopter pilots, EI=Esercito Italiano -- Italian Army.
(scan from Galizia's "Military Wristwatches")
I can’t comment on the price but from my personal perspective I think this is a very collectible and unique watch in many ways – but then I might be overly biased as it does combine my two big watch fascinations, military issued watches and Breitlings.
As far as I’m aware Breitling only ever produced two watches commissioned by the military to their spec. The first is the Canadian one button chrono, which is smallish (about 36mm) and I’ve only seen it sporting the Canadian military redial. The other is the Breitling 817. There is a third reputed CWC style British chrono but since I’ve never seen one outside of a few, less than brilliant, pictures in books I’m not counting it.
I’m also not counting the Iraqi issued pieces because they are essentially commercially produced watches with a custom dial.
So as a Breitling collector this is rare, a watch that was never available commercially, custom manufactured for the Italian military and produced in what seems to be tiny numbers (judging by how rarely they appear).
Not only that but it’s a cracking looking watch with classic tool watch styling and a good large size (around 39/40mm).
Now switching my perspective to that of a military collector (because they will be fighting the Breitling buyers for it) this watch is also unusual and fits into various different collecting areas.
First of all it’s desirable for the fact that it is a commissioned watch made for the military and never commercially sold, as opposed to a watch that was bought by the military from a commercially produced line (e.g. Seamaster 300).
It’s an Italian military chrono which are very collectible and it really should be judged against its peers, the Zenith Cairlelli and the Universal Geneve, both of which are pretty rare and priced accordingly.http://www.mwrforum.net/forums/showthread.php?t=32388
It’s in the style of the Heuer Bund which is also a collectible line of watches (Leonidas and Sinn) so if you collect those you will want this in your collection.
The market puts an increasing premium on military issued watches. A Rolex submariner 5513 from the Seventies, £3-5k normally, add fixed bars and make it military issued, £30-50k. There’s a military premium on watches like the Seamaster 300 or Tudor Submariner. These watches are also very tricky to buy because except for the issued markings they are often the same as their commercial counterparts.
If you want to assess the value of it I’d judge it with my military hat on. This as a rare military watch with bullet proof provenance from a well known manufacturer with military and aviation history. It’s a great wearable size and is attractive with a clean military dial. I ask myself the question if this was the Zenith or the Lemania Swaf or the Swedish “three crowns” Lemania what would I have to pay for it?http://www.mwrforum.net/forums/showthread.php?t=12729http://www.finertimes.com/asp/watches/q ... &Page=1605