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PostPosted: Fri Dec 26, 2014 12:40 am 
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It's been a bit quiet here lately ?

Allow me to share a post I had prepared for TZ, as the forum culture there "expects" members to post an SOTC every year - and I had never done that since my Jaeger LeCoultre Memovox & Futurematic post some years ago.

As a founding member of WAA, Watch Addicts Anonymous, posting a pic tsunami of all of my watches without a bit of background, history and some explanation why particular pieces ended up in my collection just would not do the watches justice - there is a thin line between showing and just showing off.

But I've succeeded in finally hunting down a watch I'd been searching for years; when I showed it with some of it's siblings I was asked by many TZ members to show more of these - so I did an SOTC of my Breitling Premier ref. 734 and 765 chronographs - allow me to post it here in in the general "Breitling Discussions" forum, maybe it is of interest to some of you non-vintage guys too ?

This is probably much more than you ever wanted to know about two obscure vintage Breitling models so maybe just scroll over the blah and enjoy some of the watches - thank you for your patience !

The Breitling of today is a strange company, some very very nice watches, some mediocre me-toos, some (personal tastes only) ugly behemoths, they just don't seem to know who they really are, know surprisingly little about their heritage and often neglect it.

But the original Breitling was a leading innovator - among the first wrist chronographs, the world's first dual button chronographs in 1934 , the 1940s and 1950s sliderule chronos of the Chronomat and Navitimer lines, elegant Worldtimers in the early 1950s, beautiful Dive watches in the 1950s and 1960s (the seemingly first documented reverse panda chrono among them), the roaring sixties with some breathtaking watch designs, one of the - let's not get into this discussion - first automatic chronograph calibers, the first 20ATM automatic Dive chronograph - what a plethora of wonderful watches .....

Much of that was due to one man; Willy Breitling. When young Willy took over the company in 1934, one of his first steps was to establish the "Breitling Huit Aviation" or "Breitling Eight Air Force" division (the name derives from their dashboard clocks w/ an 8 day power reserve) that developed and sold aircraft instruments - and some very nice wrist watches and chronographs too ;)

Here is the first catalog from the late 1930s - and the first documented appearance of the Premier ref. 734 wrist chronograph.

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The first advertisement from 1939, showing the ref. 734, note that Breitling here is still named "Montbrillant Watch Manufactory"

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mid 1940s catalog with a wider range of wrist watches - and the first time we see the waterproof Premier ref. 765

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Here are the two "in the metal"; both based on the crown wheel Venus 178; the ref. 734 (sadly stolen from my car, still miss this one a lot):

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and the waterproof ref. 765, a recent addition; both only roughly datable (exact lists exist from 1944 onwards) to 1939 or 1940:


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A "civilian" example of the ref. 734 (early 1940s), a piece I love very much:

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and a civilian Premier ref. 765, manufactured in 1946:

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Family shot, pieces from the early 1940s, to the last documented Premier ref. 765, an AOPA from 1965:

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a 1944 "Breitling 8" Premier ref. 765 on the wrist:

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another "civilian" Premier 734, 1945:

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1953 Premier ref. 765:

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One of my favorites again, the AOPA Premier ref. 765 from 1965, the latest example I have seen:

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To sum up that overly long story - in the very early 1950s the Premier ref. 765 was the basis of another line of very, very beautiful Breitling chronographs with rotating bezels, the ref. 765 AVI, later Co-Pilot AVI, Co-Pilot Yachting, Unitime AVI and Co-Pilot Top Time, manufactured until "the end" in the mid 1970s, when Willy Breitling refused to seek bankruptcy protection and save his company.

But Willy sold off all machinery (to Rolex, btw.), the component stocks (so O&W and Sinn could continue the Navitimer production) and finally the brand to Mr. Schneider of Sicura AG, so he could pay off all his debt and close down the original company. What a man.

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So maybe a 2015 PSOTC for the AVI, Co-Pilot & Yachtings - or, even better, maybe Rene will do one now ? Happy Holidays !



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PostPosted: Fri Dec 26, 2014 5:02 am 
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Nice little walk through a bit of history... Enjoyable read, and excellent photos of some very nice vintage pieces. Thanks!


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 26, 2014 3:49 pm 
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A fitting tribute to the 734 & 765. History & opinion on two Breitling models and a well balanced review. Thank you for sharing.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 27, 2014 7:34 am 
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An interesting read, thank you for this!

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 12:53 pm 
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Love to see these kind of knowledge sharing threads, very inheriting, would love to see one for the ref 178s one day and am eagerly awaiting the one for the TopTime that is in the pipeline. Keep up the great work guys, it's much appreciated.



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 1:06 pm 
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Fred ALL I CAN SAY IS SPECTACULAR

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 1:40 pm 
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It means a lot that you would take the time to share with us your knowledge of these pieces of Breitling history, thanks!


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