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PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2010 12:27 pm 
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Location: Germany
Summer 1952. A Sergeant of the US Army Kaiserslautern/Germany had just finished unpacking his suitcase after his short one week holiday in Switzerland and set down to have another look at the present he had bought for his father-in-law.

He was the first of his family to visit Switzerland and he was sure to have bought the most significant present you can buy in Switzerland: A wirst watch.

It was Breitlings CHRONOMAT. The sales-clerk had told him a lot about this watch, but he remembered only one thing: The watch had a slide rule, that device his father-in-law was using for calculating the consumption of gasoline or the time of arrival when flying his Cessna. And this little device had also been the reason for numerous curses when his father-in-law couldn't remember where and in which pocket he had put it or when it fell down during a bumpy flight. The Sergeant smiled. He knew he had the perfect present for his father-in-law.

In fact, his father-in-law was so happy about this 'slide rule watch' that soon everyone of his pilot friends - all members of AOPA - knew about it. This was something they unknowingly had been waiting for and they immediately informed AOPA executives about this discovery.

AOPA executives also recognized the potentiality of this watch and after some brainstorming the idea of a special AOPA wrist watch was born. Only a short while later they were already sitting around a table in La Chaux-de-Fonds and discussed this special AOPA watch with Willy Breitling and his engineers. The rough draft for this watch was ready in a jiffy and also a suitable name was found: Navitimer (the combination of Navigation and Timer). Beside the imprinted name NAVITIMER only the AOPA logo (the letters AOPA across a coat-of-arms with a wing at each side) in 18K gold should be on the dial. The name of the manufacturer Breitling to appear only on the back cover. Sale of this watch solely in the USA by AOPA and Breitlings agent Wakman. AOPA approved Breitlings wish to also produce a small amount of Navitimers without the AOPA logo but with BREITLING GENEVE and the Breitling-'B' on the dial in order to compensate for the development costs. Sale of course only in Europe and to be organized by Breitling. The contract - a summary of all items discussed during the sessions in La Chaux-de-Fonds - was signed still in 1952.

Then in 1953 it was Breitlings turn to let this Navitimer come true. Venus S.A., Moutier informed Breitling that they could provide the required amounts of caliber 178 (14''' ) in the middle of 1955 earliest, but Valjoux S.A., Les Bioux was in the position to deliver their caliber 72 (13''' ) already beginning of 1954. Breitling decided to start the production of the Navitimer with the Valjoux 72 and to develop a watchcase which could take in either movement. Both movements had the same hight but different diameters (31,5 mm <--> 29,5 mm). In a watchcase with enough space for either movement different spacers would solve the problem. The different position of the pushers ( Valjoux 72 = non symmetrical, Venus 178 = symmetrical ) was no problem at all but only a matter of good timing i.e. to inform the manufacturer of the case right in time to drill symmetrical holes in order to avoid surplus of cases for the Valjoux 72 movement. The two different dials were also no problem. There was enough time to produce dials for a Venus 178 well in advance to be handy whenever needed. Sending samples of watchcases, dials, slide rule bezels and hands to and fro across the Atlantic was just another item on the long list of reasons slowing down the development of a watch and it wasn't until 1954 that the first Navitimer was produced.

AOPA members and pilots around the world truly seem to have waited for this 'Navitimer'. Soon the watch became a huge success and Breitling was so busy producing enough Navitimers for AOPA and Wakman that only in February 1955 they realized that important things had been forgotten since the production of the Navitimer started. This was immediately corrected and the Navitimer finally got its reference number 806 stamped on the back cover. Also the name 'NAVITIMER' was only registered in Februar 1955.

Reality taught Breitling another lesson: Big business was made in the USA, not in Europe. That is why beginning of 1959 Breitling approached AOPA with the wish to continue the production of that Navitimer with the BREITLING dial. AOPA refused but offered to meet Breitling half way and allowed Breitling to produce and sell via their own sales organization a Navitimer with a dial that showed beside the name BREITLING also the AOPA logo, though without the letters AOPA on the coat-of-arms.

This compromise was really good news for Breitling. On the day the first Navitimers with the new dial were shipped to the authorized dealers there was a celebration with good food and lots of alcohol in La Chaux-de-Fonds. The man responsible for the serial number stamping machine must have drunk more than he could stand and the next morning he inadvertently was setting this machine off by a digit. 92xxxx became 82xxxx, thus giving later generations the basis for guesswork in which year a watch might have been produced, in 1953 or in 1959/60.

Since 1959 there were two kinds of dials: The old AOPA dial, and the 'new' BREITLING dial.

Since 1962 also the 24h Navitimer was delivered with these two different dials, but Breitlings 24h Navitimer had additionaly the name COSMONAUTE imprinted on it.

The contract of 1952 kept Breitlings hands tied for 10 years. In 1963 Breitling surprised the Navitimer world with their own and completely different dial. The new Breitling logo for the Navitimer was two stylized airplanes flying in close formation. Luckily Breitling already in 1955 "secured" the copyright for the name NAVITIMER.

The AOPA Navitimer and the AOPA 24h Navitimer were produced until 1968. The dial was still the same, but since 1964 the AOPA logo was not 18K gold anymore but imprinted.


Regards,
Chris


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2010 12:44 pm 
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a real nice legend

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The man responsible for the serial number stamping machine must have drunk more than he could stand and the next morning he inadvertently was setting this machine off by a digit. 92xxxx became 82xxxx, thus giving later generations the basis for guesswork in which year a watch might have been produced, in 1953 or in 1959/60.


And the responsible man was 7 years drunken :lol: :lol: :lol:


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2010 3:22 pm 
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Great read thank you! :D

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2010 1:59 am 
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Thank you very much,

Excellent outsourcing of the history of the Navitimer, we believe it to be correct.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2010 8:19 am 
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Chris K wrote:
This compromise was really good news for Breitling. On the day the first Navitimers with the new dial were shipped to the authorized dealers there was a celebration with good food and lots of alcohol in La Chaux-de-Fonds. The man responsible for the serial number stamping machine must have drunk more than he could stand and the next morning he inadvertently was setting this machine off by a digit. 92xxxx became 82xxxx, thus giving later generations the basis for guesswork in which year a watch might have been produced, in 1953 or in 1959/60.


This is a fun story but the question remains:

Where is the Incabloc if these watches are mis-stamped in 1959/60?

One element to make a complicated theory--i.e. the "drunk" case stamper--can be acceptable but two--drunk stamper + they put an 8-year-old movement in with their beautiful new dial design--starts to smack of trying to make reality bend to fit a pet theory/urban legend with no--zero, zilch, nada--documentation.

If people are going to vouch for this out-of-sequence SN theory, far better to latch onto the "stamped cases & old movements sat around 7-8 years and then sold with the new dial because Breitling didn't want to waste parts they had already paid for" theory. (BTW, this could still dovetail with Venus not being able to provide shockproof movements on Breitling's schedule in the mid-1950s.) This sat-around theory has the benefits of not having so many moving parts so that it strains credulity, although maybe not as "charming" as the drunk case stamper. ;)
Best,
T.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2010 8:31 am 
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Entertaining, but there are a number of problems.

In addition to those identified there are 1954 Navitimers (with Valjoux 72s) that have B logos


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2010 9:41 am 
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(BTW, this could still dovetail with Venus not being able to provide shockproof movements on Breitling's schedule in the mid-1950s.)


http://www.antiquewatch-carese.com/coll ... 892-209580
Breitling AVI with Incabloc 1953.

It seems that Venus was supplying the 178 with incabloc before 1954.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2010 12:43 pm 
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Where is the Incabloc if these watches are mis-stamped in 1959/60?


They had spend the incabloc for buying alcohol. :santa: :cheer: :strummin: :michaelangelo:


Last edited by breitlingmuseum on Fri Feb 19, 2010 2:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2010 12:46 pm 
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http://www.antiquewatch-carese.com/coll ... 892-209580
Breitling AVI with Incabloc 1953.

It seems that Venus was supplying the 178 with incabloc before 1954.


This Co-Pilot has never the original movement. Breitling never used this kind of bridge for a Venus 178. And the Co-Piilot movements where red gildet, only the very first without incabloc not.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2010 3:21 pm 
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Roffensian wrote:
In addition to ......... there are 1954 Navitimers (with Valjoux 72s) that have B logos


"AOPA approved Breitlings wish to also produce a small amount of Navitimers without the AOPA logo but with BREITLING GENEVE and the Breitling-'B' on the dial in order to compensate for the development costs."

"Breitling decided to start the production of the Navitimer with the Valjoux 72 and to develop a watchcase which could take in either movement."

Regards,
Chris


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 20, 2010 9:08 am 
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tomvox1 wrote:

This is a fun story but the question remains:

Where is the Incabloc if these watches are mis-stamped in 1959/60?



"FUN STORY": You are right, it is truly unimportant whether the stamper was still drunk next morning. This was just a nice guess. Important is, that setting off the serial number stamping machine by a digit is the only plausible explanation why all of a sudden in 1959 there surface Navitimers with serial numbers from a time when there was no Navitimer yet, resp. Navitimer with a dial that only exists since 1959 have serial numbers of the year 1953.

"INCABLOC": The Breitling vintage market always has been 'blessed' with more Frankenstein watches then any other brand. If you are missing an Incabloc shock protection in a watch you are sure that it should have one, then you better get accustomed to the idea, that this particular watch is a Frankenstein watch.

Regards,
Chris


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 20, 2010 9:13 am 
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my watchmaker has dismantled a 1953er Navitimer. He says the works floor, the counter for incabloc does not fit, purely in contrary to the later Navitimer. I will send photos in the next few days after Carnival .

What says Graig to this theory?


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 20, 2010 9:43 am 
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Chris K wrote:
"INCABLOC": The Breitling vintage market always has been 'blessed' with more Frankenstein watches then any other brand. If you are missing an Incabloc shock protection in a watch you are sure that it should have one, then you better get accustomed to the idea, that this particular watch is a Frankenstein watch.


Are you suggesting that any 806 without incabloc is a frankenwatch?


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 20, 2010 9:54 am 
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Chris K wrote:

"INCABLOC": The Breitling vintage market always has been 'blessed' with more Frankenstein watches then any other brand. If you are missing an Incabloc shock protection in a watch you are sure that it should have one, then you better get accustomed to the idea, that this particular watch is a Frankenstein watch.

Regards,
Chris


Wrong answer...

Image

Image

Image

Image

Try again. :wink:
T.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 20, 2010 11:56 am 
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Roffensian wrote:
Chris K wrote:
"INCABLOC": The Breitling vintage market always has been 'blessed' with more Frankenstein watches then any other brand. If you are missing an Incabloc shock protection in a watch you are sure that it should have one, then you better get accustomed to the idea, that this particular watch is a Frankenstein watch.


Are you suggesting that any 806 without incabloc is a frankenwatch?


Yes.

Regards,
Chris


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