Long before John Travolta pitched the brand in the shadow of his private jet, Breitling made good watches. In fact, they made some of the most purpose-built tool watches of any brand in Switzerland rather than 47mm “pilot” watches with puffy steel bezels and generic movements. That 1990s and onward Breitling era really sticks in the minds of watch collectors, hurting vintage enthusiasm around the brand immensely. Only recently has deserved recognition hit vintage Breitling, specifically the Navitimer, Super Ocean, and Co-Pilot, but the entire 1940s through 1970s catalog remains a high relative value.
Established in 1884 as a neighbor of Longines in Saint-Imier, Switzerland, Breitling focused—from its small shop roots—on chronographs, sport use watches, and scientific timing instruments. Swelling beyond that initial shop, in 1892, the firm left Longines behind by moving to a larger facility in the hottest Swiss watchmaking town, La Chaux-de-Fonds. There, Breitling joined a new set of neighbors including Girard-Perregaux and Jacquet Droz. In 1914, the brand’s founder, Léon Breitling passed away with his son, Gaston, taking over operations. Under the guidance of Gaston, Breitling introduced their first wristwatch chronograph in 1915 and cemented its place in the universe of Swiss watchmaking as a chronograph specialist—a focus it would champion for the next 60 years and beyond.
Gaston Breitling sadly passed away unexpectedly in 1927, leaving his 14-year-old son, Willy, as the brand’s only successor. Gaston’s son took a few years to literally grow up before taking hold of the Breitling wheel in 1932. Proved to be an outstanding sherpa, Willy Breitling filed a patent for the world’s first two-button wristwatch chronograph, created the first black dial and heavily lumed aviator chronograph, and, in the early 1940s, introduced the Chronomat, Premier, Duograph, and Datora product lines. Willy really should be regarded right there alongside Jack Heuer as Swiss watch innovators because he did not stop there. Breitling’s Navitimer, Super Ocean, Co-Pilot, Top Time, and Chronomatic all were introduced in the 1950s and 1960s while Willy was at the helm.
Breitling’s Chronomat was among the first innovations of the great Willy Breitling, dating back to 1942. The aviator focused wristwatch chronograph was among the first of its kind and, in fact, the second slide rule watch produced behind the chronograph-less Mimo-Loga just a year before. While the design language and production runs overlapped for a significant time period, it is important to note that the Chronomat dates back ten years prior to the introduction of the now renowned Breitling Navitimer. While today viewed as a little brother to the Navitimer, these watches are actually not as similar as it may seem—the Chronomat is not a pilot watch. Rather, the earlier model was marketed as ideal for engineers, doctors, sportsmen, aviators, and technicians.
This Breitling Chronomat reference 769 dates to 1945 and is accompanied by a photo of the gentleman who supposedly purchased the watch when new. Nothing is known about this gentleman apart from his nickname, “Put Put”, which he signed on the photo.
The case is preserved in good to great condition with sharp original bezel lines. The unsigned signed crown and pushers appear correct and original to the watch. On this caseback, the text remains deeply stamped and the original finish is still apparent. The acrylic crystal is free of any major scratches although shallow hairline scratches are seen. Please note that while the bezel is rotating the inner bezel is not rotating with it.
The Dial and Hands
This example’s dial is in good condition with the bulk of the patina and faults showing along the rotating inner bezel. The dial is free of all lume as originally produced and the handset appears correct and original
The Breitling signed Venus cal. 175 movement is in good running order, keeping accurate time, and the seller states it has been serviced at their watchmaker.
|Location||New York City|
|Movement||Manual, Venus cal. 175|
|Case Material||Stainless Steel|
|Band Material||Stainless Steel|
|Clasp Type||Pressure Fit|