Breitling is known for its high quality luxury timepieces. Among the most iconic is the Navitimer pilot's watch. This is a timepiece that has stood the test of time with a rich history and a slew of variants to suit practically any lifestyle. When shopping for a used version of the Navitimer, it's good to have an idea of what to look for to ensure that you get the best possible deal for a watch that is worth what you pay for it.It's one thing to buy one brand new from the dealer but quite another to pick up a used example. To help you in your endeavors, we offer this Buyer's Guide to Getting a Used Breitlng Navigator with tips and useful information so the end result will be your satisfaction.
History of the Navitimer
Breitling's first Navitimer was introduced to the world in 1952 with a design inspired by the Chronomat circa 1942. Following the tradition of a pilots' watch with a slide rule bezel for making quick calculations, it fulfilled its job of offering a tool for determining important task cush as fuel consumption, rates of descent and ascent, air speed, and so forth. The Navitimer became one of the most important watches for pilots soon after its release. After generations of changes and innovations, the Navitimer is still being produced in modern iterations. It's gone through multiple changes throughout the years while retaining the same DNA of the original, at least in most aspects.
Tips for buying a used Navitimer
One of the most important things that you can do is to consider which Navitimer you're interested in. With a long history of production there are several quite different models within the Navitimer family out there, and multiple variants of those. The reason you need to narrow down your preference is to help get a more complete history of the specific watch, learn about its inherent and true value, and know what to look for in an original vs a knockoff version. The reference number can give you a ballpark idea of its value. Here are main points to cover as you browse
- -Know your reference numbers ( or have access to them)
- -Access proof of authenticity/Verify documentation
- -Visually inspect and assess the condition
- -Compare prices among sellers
Why are references for Navitimers important?
The reference tells a great deal about the watch. Some references are more valuable than others. Each Navitimer model has a reference number that uniquely identifies it as a member of that specific group. Although there may be variants within the number such as dial color, band, occasionally the hands, the movement that powers the watch will be the same. Breitling has assigned reference and the more individualized serial numbers to help prevent forging or passing off knock off versions as a genuine Breitling. It can help you to do a faster search to assess the information about the estimated value of the watch as well. We'll go a bit more in depth about how reference numbers can be useful later.
Proof of authenticity
To ensure the Navitimer you're considering is genuine, make sure that it comes with the accompanying documentation and certificate of authenticity. The reference number and accompanying serial number that is included in the paperwork should match the engraving on the watch itself. You can verify the documentation by contacting Breitling or referring to resources on the internet to ensure you're paying for a genuine Breitling Navitimer.
It's important to note that high end watched that sell for thousands of dollar are subject to counterfeiting. There is a huge market for this nefarious activity. Although Breitling, along with other luxury brands have taken steps to curb this activity through their unique identification systems and numbering, it's really the responsibility of the buyer to be aware of the risks and to take step to ensure that they don't become the victims of an inauthentic item by double checking to prove that it is an authentic piece.
Confirm seller reputation
In a perfect world, a Breitling Navigator would be purchased from an authorized dealer, but this isn't always possible. Some collectibles are sold by the owners while others are offered through jewelers, auction sites and other third parties. It's always a good idea to confirm the reputation of the seller before you follow through with the purchase of an expensive timepiece. In most cases, it's as easy as conducting an online search if the party is a legitimate business that deals in fine collectibles. Sometimes dealing with private parties works out well, but it can go the other way too. If you purchase a used Navitimer from a private party that is going through an auction service, you may be able to get information about previous activity on that site that will give you an idea of how well the seller has performed up until now through buyer ratings, such as eBay.
The condition of the watch affects its value. Perform a visual inspection and look for scratches on the case, the sapphire crystal lens that covers the dial, check the pushers and crown to make sure that everything works as it should, and ask about the service record. Ideally the Navitimer will have a service record showing authorized jewelers performing any work or repairs that might have been rendered. A Navitimer that has been repaired will be more valuable if the parts are original vs. aftermarket components. The crystal should be clear. Some models may develop a unique patina with age, which is actually beneficial in assessing value. Finally, the running condition of the watch should also be confirmed.
It's a good idea to compare the prices with a few vendors once you've found the perfect Breitling Navitimer for your use, or for your collection. While some of the more rare examples are worth whatever a collector is willing to pay, there are certain value amounts assigned to most models. Instead of jumping at the first opportunity, comparing prices from sellers can save you money on models that are not specifically high dollar collectible pieces.
Changes in the Navitimer though the years
The first Navitimer released in 1952 featured the AOPA emblem on the dial with a double wing logo. This endured until 1960 when the Navitimer 806 reference with a manual chronograph movement, called the Venus 178 was released. This is one of the most collectible models in the history of the collection. An example of the Breitling Navitimer 806 Venus 178 from 1966 was sold for $10,632 USD. This was a stainless steel edition measuring 40 mm in case width in creme white dial color with a leather strap in excellent condition.
Assessing the value of a Navitimer
In general, the older editions that are rare are some of the most valuable, depending upon the condition of course. Some Navitimers have reached a value of $15,000 in mint condition. Another feature that increases the value is the type of materials that were used for the case, bracelet, and so forth. Some are stainless steel with others offered in gold filled, and other versions. Some of the more rare and valuable examples are the 18K gold editions such as the 806 from 1954 with the Valjoux 72 movement. What makes this so valuable is its rarity, therefore, it's now a highly collectible edition.
Know your Breitling Navitimers in advance
When you're shopping for a used Breitling Navitimer it's vital to know a little bit about them in general. When it comes down to the brass tacks of deciding whether the price is far or not, you'll need to know a bit more about the specific watch that you're considering. Here is an overview of the Navigators to help build your knowledge base.
1. Decoding the 12-digit reference numbers
The reference number on a Breitling Navitimer is 12 digits and it is accompanied by the serial number. Here is a breakdown of how you can learn more about the watch by these numbers.
- -The first letter refers to the case material
- -The second and third numbers refer to the movement powering the watch these are read as a combined number
- -The fourth digit tells you if the movement is COSC certified
- -The fifth and 6th digits are read as two numbers that tell the model type
- -The seventh and 8th digits are read as two numbers that indicate the bezel/case finish
- -The ninth digit is a letter that tells the dial color
- -The 10th, 11th, and 12th digits are read as a series of three numbers indicating the design of the dial
- A-Steel bezel and case
- B-Steel bezel and case with gold riders
- C-Rose gold bezel with a steel case
- D-Titanium bezel and case
- F-18k bezel with titanium case
- G-White gold bezel with a steel case
- H-18k rose gold bezel and case
- I-(There is no I used in the number. If you see one, it's likely a fake)
- J-18k white gold bezel and case
- K-18k yellow gold bezel and case
- L-Platinum bezel and case
- M-Blacksteel bezel and case
- N-Carbon case
- P-Platinum bezel with a steel case
- R-Red gold bezel and case
- T-Palladium bezel and case
- V-Black titanium case and bezel
- X-Breitlight case
- Y-Ceramic bezel with a steel case
- Digits 2 and 3: Calibre/Movement
- 10-49 Mechanical movement
- 50 and higher -Quartz movements
- *Note: The B01 was the first in-house movement with a number that is under 10.
- 0-not COSC certified
- 3-COSC certified
While you don't necessarily need to know all of this information unless you're buying a high dollar example, it might just come in handy if you're browsing through several different models and you have any questions about these features. The more you know, the more inclined you'll be to make a satisfactory deal on a Navitimer.
Navitimers as you can see come in a variety of variations, including special editions made of premium materials, and those that are made in a limited number, making them rarities right out of the gate. Whether you're a collector in search of a treasure, or you just think they're sophisticated, useful, and amazing watches, it's not that difficult to find the perfect Navitimer model to suit your preferences, and even your budget.
Breitling Navitimers have been around since 1952, rising to the status of iconic among pilots and other navigation professionals. For the average guy who doesn't fly a plane, they're fascinating works of horologic innovation with the sliding rule bezel and the capacity of a small computer for pilots, worn on the wrist. These practical tools have been improved upon throughout the more than 6 decades since Breitling offered the first version. You can find model years from the original through the present as the Navitimer and its various models and variants are still being produced in 2020.
The Navitimer is an example of form meeting function with their sophisticated aesthetics and variety of styles. It's no wonder that the market for them is so healthy. The good news is that there are plenty of them being offered for sale. The trick is finding the model you're looking for, and then making sure that the piece is precisely as advertised, and made available at a reasonable facsimile of its estimated value. We've provided you with the tips and suggestions to help you make an educated assessment of the condition and value prior to making the commitment of buying. A little knowledge can take you a long way when it comes to getting what you're looking for at a fair price.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker