Just a short journey - a bit pic heavy - from 1954 to 2011.
It has been a bit quiet here recently and I seem to be only "surviving" vintage aficionado - had prepared this post for a rather puristic forum, thought you too might enjoy to go on a journey in time with me.
I will not bother you with too much historical information, a lot has been written about the Navitimers, though much of that is slightly incorrect.
Breitling launched their first sliderule chronograph in 1941 or 1942, the Chronomat ref. 769; the patent application for the logarithmic sliderule was filed in September 1940 and granted in January 1942, the ref. 769 proved to be highly successful - and has influenced the design of all sliderule Breitlings until today.
In the early 1950s Breitling and AOPA (the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) - maybe motivated by the success of the Jardur Bezelmeter - adapted the Chronomat sliderule design to fit aviation requirements and named it the NAVIgationTIMER; quite a chunky watch for the times with a diameter of 40mm it offered pilots calculation tools for ground speeds, gasoline consumption, rates of climb and descent, climb and descent distances and more.
Breitling still claims the Navitimer was launched in 1952 and last year celebrated their 60th anniversary - though evidence shows the Navitimer was only launched in small quantities in 1954, mass production started in 1955.
The mythical 1952 and 1953 Navitimers probably result from misnumbered cases - the watches that bear those serial numbers have all the specifics (movement, case, import marking WOG instead of BOW, bead numbers on the bezel) of late 1950s Navitimers, an example of these below; confronted with the evidence Breitling now claims there were Navitimers produced for military use in 1952 - but they can not disclose which army commissioned them, still secret.
I must mention the Navitimer-uberguru Kurt Broendum and "Dracha" Renè, without their persistent research we would probably still believe the Breitling lore.
In the first years AOPA had an exclusive distribution agreement for the Navitimer 806 (displaying their logo on the dial instead of the Breitling brand), but quite soon Breitling-branded pieces appeared for markets outside the US.
So, enough of the blah; let's start the journey with a family shot, spanning the years from 1955 to 2011:
Navitimer 806 V1b, Valjoux V72 (V1a would be the even rarer 1954s without reference numbers. 1952 Navitimers are a myth).
Navitimer 806 V1c, Venus V178
Navitimer 806 V1c, Venus V178
Navitimer 806 V1c, Venus V178 (fully restored, dial relumed, sliderule replaced)
1958 or 1959
Navitimer 806 V1c, Venus V178; serial number would indicate 1953, but all characteristics prove it to be a late 1950s, one of the misnumbered cases that most probably are the reason for that 1952/53 launch myth.
Navitimer 806 V2, Venus V178, a twin-plane or two
Navitimer 806 V2, Venus V178, AOPA & "boxed 10"
Navitimer 806 V2, Venus V178, AOPA
Navitimer 806 V2, Venus V178, twin plane "boxed 10"
Navitimer 7806, Valjoux 7740
Navitimer 7806-S, modified Valjoux V7740
Navitimer reborn; some "Lemania Cossie" 81600, a Navitimer was launched in the same case, both Lemania 1873
Old Navitimer 1, Valjoux 7750
Navitimer Mècanique Japan LE (400 in black); Lemania 1873. Rare bird, but really quite nice.
Navitimer A23322, modified Valjoux 7750
Navitimer 2014 ?
Who knows, but it will most probably be based on the Chronomat 769 from 1940 and the Navitimer 806. Talk about extended design life .....