Ever since Georges Kern took over the reins of Breitling in 2017, the aviation brand has been moving with seemingly impossible speed and near irrepressible energy. And one of the key focal points Breitling incredibly rich archive of historical models.

Not only are these archives informing new models, but they are also being recreated, in a painstakingly authentic way. In March of 2019, the brand gave us the Navitimer Ref. 806 1959 Re-Edition. And now, the latest example, as announced by Mr Kern himself on his personal Instagram, is the Breitling 765 AVI 1953 Re-Edition.

The Breitling AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition
The Breitling AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition
(L-R) The Breitling AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition in 18K red gold, platinum and steel
(L-R) The Breitling AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition in 18K red gold, platinum and steel

The watch will be released in three versions — steel at 7900 CHF (released in March), rose gold at 21,000 CHF (released in May) and platinum at 39,000 CHF (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.

(L-R) A 1953 original next to the new Breitling AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition
(L-R) A 1953 original next to the new Breitling AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition

This particular historic watch appears to have been a watch worn by British racing engineer and driver Ken Miles, recently played by Christian Bale in the film Ford v Ferrari. It’s undeniably a good-looking watch, but what is an AVI 765, and where did it come from?

Close up of the dial of the Breitling AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition in 18K red gold, platinum and steel
Close up of the dial of the Breitling AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition in 18K red gold, platinum and steel

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.

Technical Specifications

Movement

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

Case

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

Strap

Vintage-inspired leather strap with pin buckle

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