Watches - April 27, 2020

Breitling AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition

Back in the 1950s, the original Co-Pilot Ref. 765 AVI starred next to another Breitling icon: the Navitimer. With its bold design, engraved rotating bezel, and extra legible dial the 765 AVI instantaneously became the perfect companion to the Navitimer as the rugged and reliable pilots’ watch. Today, the AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition recreates to the very last detail one of the early executions of the Co-Pilot Ref. 765 AVI. Its all-black dial, protected by a highly-domed Hesalite crystal, has the same Arabic numerals as the original Co-Pilot from 1953, with tone-on-tone small seconds, 15-minute and 12-hour chronograph counters. The hand-applied Super-LumiNova color has been carefully chosen to recall the original luminescent material and gives the AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition an additional touch of vintage allure. The 41mm stainless steel case is also identical, and the bezel is secured by three screws that are placed in precisely the same positions as those on the watch from 1953. There are only two concessions to modernity that distinguish this new timepiece from its famous ancestor: the water resistance has been improved up to 3 bar (30 meters) and keen-eyed observers will see that “GENEVE” does not appear on the dial anymore. The AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition is powered by the in-house Breitling Manufacture Caliber B09, a hand-wound COSC-certified caliber based on the renowned Breitling Caliber 01 and developed specifically for historical re-editions. It is available on a black vintage-inspired leather strap with a pin buckle as a limited-edition of 1953 pieces, each of which is engraved “ONE OF 1953”.


The watch will be released in three versions — steel at 8600 USD (released in March), rose gold at 22,850 USD (released in June), and platinum at 39,900 USD (released in June). The watch is powered by an in-house manual-winding Calibre B09 (based on the B01) and has again been developed with Breitling collector and collaborator, Fred Mandelbaum (AKA @watchfred). We asked Mr. Mandelbaum about the significance of this watch, he replied: “the importance for Breitling and others was that it ‘defined’ a style of pilot’s chronograph that everyone followed for decades”.

In fact, this watch, with its solid metal bezel with a 12-hour scale is based upon a 1953 Mark 1 model seen on Fred’s feed, with a distinctive subdial text, Mandelbaum is proud to point out the 15-minute sub-dial (at three o’clock), which required modification of the movement specifically for this project, a detail many manufacturers would not bother with.


A small detail but an important one for any watch enthusiast, the 15-minute counter of the AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition has the same signature luminescent indexes every three minutes as the original 765 AVI.
Back in the 1950s, they were of precious help for pilots in their final plane check, that should not exceed fifteen minutes.


Well, like many great chronographs, the AVI 765 was born out of the needs of the military, in this case, the needs of French pilots. It offered a cleaner display than their already-existing Navitimer but lacked a flyback function. In the end, the French didn’t go for Breitling’s design, so the brand eventually released it as a civilian model in 1964 as the Co-Pilot.

And as for the material specifications — well, that’s not too hard to guess. The watch follows the formula of the Navitimer Ref. 806 1959 Re-Edition, the specs are therefore identical to the 19563 model, from the 41.1mm case down to the hesalite crystal. Breitling proving once again that they’ve got heritage on a mission.


Manual winding Breitling Manufacture Caliber B09; COSC certified; hour, minute and small running seconds; chronograph with 15-miunte and 12-hour totalizer; 70-hour power reserve


41.1mm in steel, 18k red gold or platinum; water resistant to 30m


Vintage-inspired leather strap with pin buckle

Limited to 1953 pieces in steel, 253 pieces in 18k red gold and 153 pieces in platinum