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PostPosted: Fri Nov 01, 2013 7:07 am 
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Breitling 765 AVI investigation 1953 to 1962

first published Nov 1st 2013 on breitlingsource.com, many changes since the initial draft

Image

When I did my little investigation on the early Navitimers and the bead count on the bezel
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=36494&p=267358
I also kept a list of all ‘all black’ 765’s I encountered . As living life got in the way I never did much with that data until recently.

Now I am slowly compiling the data I gathered and here are some of my preliminary findings .
Please keep in mind that this is probably incomplete as I am working with a very limited dataset of approx 28 - 30 pieces. There are more ‘all black’ 765’s out there on the web but I was unable to get meaningful data from them like serial numbers etc but the total number of ‘all black’ 765’s I could find is limited

On the approx 30 watches I gathered data on there are some strange things.

1. 70 % seems to come from 1953 , with the next watches from 1959 , 1960, 1961 and then 1962.

2. Evidence seems to point to a 2nd run of ‘Digital’ AVI’s in 1960. Whether this was a new order or a ‘use up’ of old parts we will most likely never know (Ubik/Yaffle , thanks for pointing this out to me) but since these 1960 Digital models have the larger beads on the bezel, a newer type of hands and Geneve on the dial I assume this was a 2nd run or special order for these models.

3. There seem to be an equal division between 'Digital Date window' watches and 'Analog subdial' watches. Of the 27 watches (1953 to 1962) 13 pcs are 'analog' and 14 pcs are 'Digital' . Based on the small number of watches I have seen this might be an error due to the very small amount of watches but it is something to watch for as I grow this list

4. All ‘All Black 765 AVI” have a steel bezel which is held in place by 3 screws. The screw holes are not in a specific place in the bezel but can be in several places. The screw holes I observed were in the following places : 1-5-9 , 2-6-10 , 3-7-11 , 4-8-12 . The screw placing seems to have no bearing to either serial number or build . This Bezel is used from 1953 to 1962. The 'Click' bezel without screws was first used on the black/white 765 AVI's and Co-Pilots and the earliest 'new' model I have seen is from 1962 (private watch in my possession) which is a black/white 765 AVI with a deeply stamped caseback

5. Watches can have a gilded V178 or a non-gilded V178 movement. They can also have the BOW and WOG import codes or no code at all. Again there seems to be no logic to the madness here and either movement can be found throughout the 1953 serial range

All 1953 ‘All Black 765 AVI” watches have a deeply stamped 765 in the middle of the caseback with the AVI model name below the 765 ref number , however some watches have the AVI stamped in the middle and the 765 below that, this is the case with 2 of the 1961 watches 938333 & 938464 which may point to a small batch of cases that was marked such, manufactured in 1961.

Image

Image

<the below paragraph about army engravings is unconfirmed !!!! >

Some of the watches I have seen also have an extra number engraved on the back below the 'AVI' stamp. One Owner was told by the original watch owner that this is a serial number from the Italian airforce. If this is correct , and I have no reason to doubt it, there are All black AVI's out there that were purchased by the italian airforce and I assume these were handed to their pilots and/or navigators as tools of the trade and returned after service . The 'Italian airforce' pieces are again a combination of 'digital' and 'analog' watches where the extra number does not seem to follow any serial number range (see list below) where 827818 has number 421 engraved and is a "digital' version whereas 827833 has number 414 and is a 'analog' version.


Some sources also site the French Airforce as origin for the extra 3 digits. 1 Italian forum

http://orologi.forumfree.it/?t=63469678 and
1 french http://forum.chronomania.net/mix_entry. ... piMHHdFbwk

"the number of French Air Force assignment engraved on the back (52x)
Probably this serial was attributed to a military laboratory as cataloging,
with subsequent delivery to the various department, For many years this type
of watch and follow and 'the 2nd I see with the assignment (at this time and
the other' in the network and the owners have pointed out that 'the first time
I noticed the attribution of this model)"


How and where these fit into the Military categories for either French or Italian Airforces is currently still unknown and uncertain and needs to be investigated, also proof needs to be provided before this can be accepted as fact


Rumour 2:

in 1952/1953, the unproven rumors go, Breitling was in intense negotiations w/ the French Airforce and the AVI was developed based on the ref. 765, adapting the 30 minute counter to 15 minutes and adding the 12h bezel - prototypes or a small series were delivered and then the political connections of Breguet/Vixa changed the tender specs to add the flyback functions and Breitling lost the contract. Unsubstantiated, unproven and probably unprovable today, as most corporate documents were not passed on to the new trademark owner, Mr. Schneider. Probably still lying somewhere in a safe

Image

</unconfirmed>

What we do know however , and what we are absolutely certain of, is that the Breitling 765 AVI predates the Breguet type XX by at least 1 year. With the earliest Breitling I have seen (serial 820441) released 1/2 1953 and the Breguet type XX being released in 1954 . This by itself should be enough proof that the Breitling 765 AVI was designed, made and released prior to the Breguet type XX.

http://www.qahill.com/tz/type20/type20.html

From 1954, Breguet was commissioned by the French government to supply the Type 20 to the Air Force, the Naval Air Arm, and the CEV. The Breguet Type 20s used stainless steel cases and screwed case backs.


The Vixa Type 20 was built in 1954 with case and movement by Hanhart. The company "Vixa" was named after a late president of Timex Watches France. (Timex had a factory in Besançon until 1960.) Some 4000-5000 Vixa Type 20 chronographs were supplied.


Auricoste provided around 2000 Type 20 chronographs under contract and delivered them to the French military between August 1954 and March 1955. The Auricoste Type 20 used Lemania movements that were marked "Auricoste."


Surprisingly the 'Digital' All black 765 with date aperture minute counter is listed on this website as

http://www.qahill.com/tz/type20/type20.html

The watch on the left is not a Type 20, but is an interesting flyback chronograph made by Auricoste in the 1950s for the French army. It is difficult to see in this picture, but there is a small window at 3 o'clock for a digital minutes counter. It has a bezel marked in hours, a 12-hour totalizer at 6 o'clock, and a steel case with a screwed back.


Image

The chronology of models as I understand it is as follows (this of course is a one persons POV and I welcome comments)

As with the early all black Navitimers the first indicator of the age of the watch is the bead count and size of the beads. More beads is older , counting beads however is more difficult as the 3 screws in the bezel delete some of the beads. But in general the 53 models have 11 beads between the V and the 1 on the bezel , 1959 to 1962 have 96 beads with 8 separate beads between the V and 1 on the bezel , See pictures below for clarification.

Image

Image

Due to the number of beads on the bezel, the bezel itself is of course also a different shape

Image

Image



Initial model (see below), with the ‘date window’ as a minute counter, no “Geneve” on the dial (Breitling moved to Geneve in 1953) an a-typical Chrono hand which is (for lack of a better word) ‘tapered’ and quite narrow hour and minute hands with long narrow tips .

Image


Then Breitling released the next model (see below), it now has “Geneve” on the dial so I assume it was released after Breitling moved to Geneve in 1953 . Therefor I assume this model was released in 1953/54/55. The other change you will notice is the change in the Chronometer hand, which is now shaped as an arrow. This model still has the quite narrow hour and minute hands with long narrow tips

Image



For the next model (see below) Breitling seems to have moved away from the date window minute counter and we see a ‘normal’ circular subdial with a hand. The watch overall bears strong resemblence to the Breguet type 20 released in 1956. In chronological perspective this watch may have been very well released around 1956 as well. The hands are still the same as the previous version with the exception (of course) of the minute counter which is quite fat and with lume inside

Image

<THIS ABOVE MODEL MARKS THE END OF 1953 SERIAL NUMBER MODELS AS FAR AS I COULD SEE>


Now the Anomaly ,

Evidence points to the fact that in 1960 a series was released that had again the date window minute counter.

The watch has thicker hour and minute hands than previously released versions with the date window and have serial numbers from 1960, and less but bigger 'rice beads' on the bezel. I have seen 4 watches that look like this .

Image

The next model (see below) and what I believe is the final version of the ‘all black AVI’s” with a late 1962 serial number. Thicker hands, and the same bead bezel as described above

Image

During the 1960ies Breitling has also allowed the 765 AVI to be 'co-branded' by Kronometer Stockholm, I have only seen 2 watches , see below for 1

Image


The 1953 serial number range that I investigated runs from 8269xx/826987 to 827833 , this seems to indicate roughly 1000 cases which were used from 1953 to 1958 (6 years) to build watches. I have contacted Breitling Suisse and asked them how many 765 AVI's were build in 1953 but sadly they have told me they do not have this information (weird, because they could tell me exactly how many V72 Navitimers they build in 54/55 which is 1200 pcs)


Copyright notice :

This work in progress article was written by Rene Kesting / Dracha. If you would like to use this information on your website or somehow publish it please give credit to the writer , and link back to this article and this website as this info was first published on Breitlingsource . I couldnt have done this without all the info on Breitlingsource with a special thanks to Yaffle/Ubik and WatchFred for their feedback and finding me watches to add to the list.
If you would like to contact me or if you have an all black Breitling AVI 765 you would like to sell please contact me

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Last edited by Dracha on Mon Feb 15, 2016 6:58 am, edited 10 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 01, 2013 7:13 am 
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great work, René ! thanks for compiling and sharing !


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 01, 2013 7:51 am 
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Awesome piece of work Rene. One of the least understood pieces that Breitling produced and this will certainly help with our knowledge.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 01, 2013 11:19 am 
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Rene, do you happen to own any of these watches yourself?

Wayne


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 01, 2013 11:44 am 
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Hi wayne,

I bought one about 2 weeks ago, that restarted the investigation i was doing a few years back

I havent got my watch yet as I asked Craig if he'd be willing to perform his magic on it , as soon as Craig is done and sends it to me i'll share some pics , or may i'll post some of Craigs pics as he's always very good at sending progress photographs :D


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 01, 2013 11:51 am 
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No, Rene that is fine. I will contact Craig myself and have him send it to me direct. I see some serious flaws in your investigation and I must have your watch for some longgggggg term evaluation. You understand, ummmmmm, for, for the forum. Ya, the forum. Thanks, Rene

Wayne


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2013 4:26 pm 
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Hello. I'm new to the forum and to owning a Breitling (got it today). I'm trying to determine if the Breitling I received from my father-in-law that he thinks was purchased by his father around 1959/60 would be one of these. I know it is an AVI 765. I can just make out some black in the 3 and 9 and am wondering if the black has worn from the other numbers. Here is a photo of the watch.

Attachment:
IMG_0506.jpg


The numbers in the window next to 3 o'clock only go to 15 and are counting the number of times the second hand has completed a revolution. My grandfather-in-law did not think to keep the original box or manuals (probably not uncommon) and I have not dared to open it to try and get a serial number for fear of damaging it. I know my father-in-law had it serviced a year or so ago. I'm just trying to accurately identify it so that I can get an estimate of value for insurance purposes. Thanks for any clues you can provide.

Edit: Adding some possibly better photos (still none of inside case back or of workings)
Attachment:
IMG_0354.jpg

Attachment:
IMG_0366.jpg

You can just see that the bezel indicator is just to the left of the 60. This is where it clicks into place when rotating the bezel. So it is just a little off.
Attachment:
IMG_0376.jpg

Not sure this is the original strap since it does not have Breitling on it anywhere.
Attachment:
IMG_0368.jpg


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Last edited by kahless on Wed Nov 27, 2013 6:49 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2013 10:43 pm 
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Hi kahless, this is indeed a very original 765 avi, very rare with the minute window
And quite valuable i might add


If you have it opened it would be quite beneficial to the vintage community if you could take a picture of the movement and note down the serial number on the inside of the caseback

I am quite jealous, wear it in good health

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2013 11:14 pm 
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welcome, kahless; an entry in style.

as Rene says, it would be great to have the serial number of that iconic piece for our records, seems to be a relativel late "digital" 765 AVI, beautiful !


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2013 11:38 pm 
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Fred, some people are chasing that piece for years.... Others are getting one yesterday.

Good news is, theyre still out there ;-)

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2013 12:51 am 
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Thanks for the research and sharing!


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2013 3:10 am 
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Didn't comment on the introduction thread, but have to here. That is an absolutely spectacular piece, your grandfather-in-law had exquisite taste and it looks as though the watch has survived wonderfully well. That's a very special watch, congratulations.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2013 4:47 am 
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Thanks for the confirmation and welcomes. I knew my grandfather-in-law had excellent taste, but still can't believe I have inherited a watch that is so rare. I'm sure I'll be asking in a few years for where I can have such a beauty serviced.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2013 5:03 am 
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One sold earlier this year for close to $8,000, that seemed high but maybe that's where the market is going so for insurance purposes you are probably looking at $10,000.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2013 5:05 am 
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kahless wrote:
I'm sure I'll be asking in a few years for where I can have such a beauty serviced.

if you are unsure about the service history, it would make a lot of sense to have it serviced right now, before using it too much.
the oils might have run dry and you could cause serious damage to the movement.


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