Breitling’s Navitimer and its logarithmic slide-rule bezel have remained a staple of aviation since inception. The 806 made its debut in 1954 at a massive 40mm with a very flat crystal. Those proportions, when combined with its distinctly flat crystal and . . .let’s be kind and call it ‘busy’ dial, are instantly recognizable to watch people and aviators alike. In fact, there may be no watch more closely associated with its given function. A watch may proliferate for many reasons, whether advertising, reputation, or purpose. Whatever the cause of the 806’s popularity, it’s worth remembering that this steel chronograph is nothing more than a tool at its core. That rugged purpose was deemed fit enough for the Iraqi Air Force, where this example began its life.
The Breitling 806’s dial was the first to incorporate a slide rule that could logarithmically calculate milage, kilometers, and nautical miles simultaneously. While the full story of just how the Iraqi Air Force decided on the 806 remains a mystery, I think one can fairly assume the charm and purpose are self-evident. These issued watches were part of mid 1960s batch, which were after the 1963/4 introduction of a reverse panda and serrated bezel. The watch here is powered by a Venus 178, introduced after a few Valjoux 72 production runs. If you want to get a little more familiar with this somewhat obscure caliber, I recommend this dissection on watchrepairtalk. Collectors tend to go silly for early Valjoux 72 pieces, ‘AOPA’ (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) signed dials, and these issued military variants.
Despite the time this watch has spent in service, its is impressively preserved. The distinctive case lug bevel is sharp and its dial has not corroded. While the tritium sections of lume have tanned to the point of blackening under the desert sky, the subs and scales are all clear of cancer. Its movement has been recently serviced and it comes from a great retailer.
Find this Issued 806 Navitimer here from Bulang & Sons for 8900 EUR.