Though it is most famous the aesthetic, Breitling’s Navitimer by no means had a monopoly on the sliding scale rule chronograph. Breitling owned the patent from the very outset of WWII. This early 1940s Chronomat could easily masquerade as a model from decades later. The Chronomat’s design was advanced, its purpose was clearly defined, and it was actually adopted by pilots in period—en masse. Very little in Breitling’s entire range can offer the same historic merit to value ratio.
This was the smartwatch of the early 1940s. Its scale rule could be utilized as a tachymeter, pulsometer, and calculate multiplication/division quickly. This example sports something of a sector dial with red accents across its chronograph functions. The purposeful design forgoes frills for legibility and function. These are values I can get behind. It comes in a 36mm steel case with a radium dial. The watch is powered by a manual Venus 175 with a slow beat and simple construction. Its chronograph pushers are quite distinct, one of the earliest example I can think of where historically entrenched squared pushers began to round at their extremities.
This one weighs in with a relatively strong condition. Its dial is unrestored and still completely legible. I remind you, this is a watch from the 1940s, not 60s. A majority of dials of this era have corroded and been eaten away by time . . . .as to be almost illegible. The radium lume here is degraded, but to a final point where the effect is just a sort of patina. The handset’s lume has fallen through completely. Its case may have seem some polish, but the lug bevel is still visible. The Venus movement shows now danger warnings and was serviced last month. It comes from a private collector in Denmark.
Find this Chronomat 796 here on Chrono24 for 5900 USD.