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WATCH REVIEW Breitling AVI 765 1953 Re-Edition: a gorgeous chronograph

Editor's opinion
76.5 / 100
At Breitling, contrary to what you may think, there is not only the famous Navitimer. There is notably the Aviator line including this wonderful reissue of the 1953 ref. 765. Ready to take off?
Straight to the Point

Breitling AVI 765 1953 Re-Edition Steel

Ref.: AB0920131B1X1 - 1,953 pieces
$8,600.00 US retail price February 22nd, 2021
Pros
  • the reissue almost 100% identical to the 1953 model
  • a sober and masculine chronograph
  • great elegance
  • an absolutely irresistible dial which, in my opinion, is even more beautiful than the one of the original model
  • a curved hesalite glass
  • a hand-wound manufacture caliber
  • its chronometer certification
  • a price that remains consistent and attractive
Cons
  • the absence of a more demanding certification than that issued by the COSC
  • water-resistance (even if it is in accordance with the vocation of the watch) limited to 30 meters
  • a contemporary pin buckle
Brand Breitling
Model name
AVI 765 1953 Re-Edition Steel
Reference
AB0920131B1X1 - 1,953 pieces
Case material
Steel
Case diameter (without crown)
41,1 mm
Case diameter (crown included)
43,90 mm
Movement type
Manual winding
Caliber
Breitling Calibre B09
Base Caliber
Breitling Calibre B01 - Manufacture
Functions
Hour ; minute ; second ; chronograph
Crystal
Hesalite
Power reserve
70h
Transparent back
No
Lug width
22 mm
Length from lug to lug
48,18 mm
Case thickness
14,61 mm
Water resistance
30 m
Strap material
Leather
Clasp type
Pin buckle
Clasp material
Steel
Total weight
85 grams
Retail price USA at February 22nd, 2021
$8,600.00
Comfort (/15) 15
Movement (/20) 12
Movement Optimisation / Garnishment (/5) 3
Ease of handling and adjustment (/5) 4
Movement control proceeded by the Manufacture / horlogical awards (/3) 2
Power reserve (/2) 2
Complications (/5) 1
Finishing (/20) 15
Dial finishing (/6) 5
Case finishing (/6) 5
Quality of garnishment / caseback engraving quality (/2) 0.5
Crystal quality (/4) 4
Clasp finishing (inner and extern) (/2) 0.5
Functionality (/20) 15
Diurnal legibility (/5) 5
Night legibility (/4) 3
Water resistance (/3) 0
Strap : ease of size adjustment + ease of substitution (/4) 3
Clasp : quality and safety (/4) 4
Additional items (/10) 5.5
Limited edition (/3) 1.5
Watch delivered with several straps (/2) 0
Quality of the watch box (/1) 1
Portability with shirtsleeves buttoned (/2) 2
Goodies included (/1) 0
Understandability of the brochure (/1) 1
Value for money (/15) 14
When to wear it ? While watching "The Dam Busters"!
Users opinion
100%
like this watch
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The origins of the Breitling AVI 765 1953 Re-Edition

It is not uncommon, far from it, that a single collection manages to overshadow the others within a brand’s catalog.

Aside from Rolex, several lines of which attract covetous buyers and Omega and its two solid pillars, the Speedmaster and the Seamaster, I think in particular of Jaeger-LeCoultre and its Reverso, Audemars Piguet and its Royal Oak, and Patek Philippe and its Nautilus.

This is also the case at Breitling, whose rich offering seems to be overshadowed by the iconic Navitimer chronograph.

Fortunately, The Watch Observer observes from time to time, and while strolling around the Breitling site, I came across a model that I am talking about today: the AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition – a sumptuous chronograph of which few live photos circulate on the Net, the majority of the media having been content to take the press release and official photos.

Vintage pilots watches: Breitling AVI 765 Copilot
Breitling AVI 765 Co-Pilot: the original chronograph from 1953.

As its name explicitly indicates, it is an pilot’s watch inspired by the past.
And to understand its essence, you should briefly immerse yourself in it – in the past, for those who don’t follow!

At the beginning of the 1950s, the French Ministry of Defense launched a call for tender, with specifications to support it, to equip its pilots with a watch.
While many watchmaking companies responded to this invitation to tender, only four signed a valuable purchase order with the French government: Breguet, Auricoste, Dodane and Vixa. Thus, the Type 20 was born.

Breitling was one of the unsuccessful bidders, the watchmaker having proposed the reference 765 Co-Pilot launched in 1953 – a contract that the Swiss brand did not win, no doubt due in particular to the absence of a flyback function on its chronograph.

Aesthetically very close to a Type 20, the Breitling AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition is the very desirable, almost conforming re-edition of its ancestor.

To be continued below…

Stunning chronograph: Breitling AVI 765 1953 Re-Edition

A case similar to that of the original Breitling AVI 765 Co-Pilot

In 2019, Breitling unveiled a first reissue at Baselworld: the Navitimer 806 1959 Re-Edition – reissue of the 1959 ref. 806 launched for the 60th anniversary of the Navitimer.
Fortified by its enormous success, the manufacturer is offering this AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition following the same recipe – that of historical fidelity.

The Breitling AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition was designed in particular to offer its owner optimal legibility in 1953, and takes up its characteristics.

Around the wrist: Breitling AVI 765 1953 Re-Edition

Starting with its case.
In its contemporary version, it has the same diameter as the original model – 41 millimeters.
Breitling goes so far as to respect the original lug width of 22 millimeters.
Imposing for the time, this diameter is today quite standard, not to say contained when it comes to pilot’s watches, to the point of being able to dress (almost) every wrist.

Like the bi-directional rotating bezel, which is perfectly in line with the original model, the case of the Breitling AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition has an entirely mirror-polished finish, with only the middle of the case displaying a fine horizontal satin finish (vertical at the lugs).

The very beautiful realization is finally highlighted on the lugs side by a pretty chamfer that gradually widens as you go down along the lugs.

Steel case - Breitling AVI 765 1953 Re-Edition

On the back, Breitling offers a circular satin-finished solid back engraved with the model number, this AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition being a limited edition of 1,953 copies.

In terms of thickness, the AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition displays 14.61 millimeters – a thickness that is certainly different from that of the historical model because of the caliber that animated it in 1953: a Venus 178.

To be continued below…

Breitling AVI Réf. 765 1953 Re-Edition
A contemporary caliber

This is where one of the rare deviations Breitling has allowed itself to make in this re-edition lies, since the contemporary version is powered by a contemporary movement – in this case the Breitling B09 caliber.

However, the spirit is preserved, since both are hand-wound mechanical chronograph movements and are equipped with a column-wheel.

The Breitling B09 caliber, equipped with a vertical clutch and delivering a comfortable power reserve of 70 hours, is finally, as it should be at Breitling, certified chronometer by the COSC.
If starting the chronograph function requires virile pressure, stopping and resetting it is more pleasantly smooth.

Swiss watch - Breitling AVI 765 1953 Re-Edition

I have a regret – or rather a request, in all humility.

Chronometer certification by the COSC (in particular) has become more democratic in recent years. It is now found on watches whose prices start at around USD1,500.
This is one of the reasons why companies such as Omega and Rolex have set up much more demanding certifications.

Wouldn’t the time have come for Breitling to do the same and provide chronometric data in support?
My request is applicable to a large number of brands that very often emphasize the precision of their watches without providing supporting figures.
Chapter closed but question pending.

On the other hand, fidelity is totally on the dial side – and that’s excellent news.

To be continued below…

Breitling AVI Réf. 765 1953 Re-Edition
An absolutly stunning dial

The Breitling AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition features a matte black dial with a slightly granular texture that perfectly absorbs light and provides perfect instinctive daytime readability.

Breitling AVI 765 1953 Re-Edition: a gorgeous chronograph

 

The latter is served by white hands offering an effective contrast, the hour and minute hands adopting, as on the original model, a so-called syringe shape – no bad pun in this vaccination period!

The AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition also retains the three-counter layout of its predecessor, the said counters being adorned with a finely executed circular azure treatment.

As on the 1953 765 AVI Co-Pilot, you will find a small second at 9 o’clock, a 12-hour chronograph totalizer at 6 o’clock and a 15-minute totalizer (and not 30 minutes as on most chronographs) at 3 o’clock punctuated, in addition to the Arabic numerals, with triangular indexes – exactly as on the 1953 model.

Breitling AVI 765 1953 Re-Edition - Detail #2

The specificity of this 15-minute counter alone bears witness to the real and close ties that unite Breitling to the world of aviation.
Indeed, this quarter of an hour was the time needed for the checks to be carried out by the pilot before any takeoff.

Surrounded by large Arabic numeral hour markers, Breitling uses an eggshell-colored Super-LumiNova dial to reinforce the vintage dimension of this contemporary limited edition.

This is where the brand’s second twist lies: the dial of the AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition chronograph only displays the logo overhanging Breitling when the 1953 model added the word “Geneva” (in capital letters) under the brand name.

For those who might wonder (as I have wondered), Breitling never had a production site in Geneva. Only an office dedicated to commercial management, the mention of the Swiss city having probably been added in the 1950s for marketing purposes / credibility for export.

Detail #1: dial of the Breitling AVI 765 1953 Re-Edition

Design enthusiasts will be happy to see this disappearance on the Breitling AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition, the trend of the 20th and 21st century being rather to add literature!
The result being a dial even more beautiful than the one of the original version.

To be continued below…

Breitling AVI Réf. 765 1953 Re-Edition
An irresistible chronograph

I humbly admit that I am not a Breitling specialist.
I know of course the unavoidable Navitimer and the SuperOcean as well as some historical references.
On the other hand, I knew absolutely nothing about the 1953 AVI Co-Pilot or its contemporary reissue. Mea culpa…

I am delighted to have discovered it and I would like to thank the brand for agreeing to entrust it to me for a few days in order to offer you a closer look. And to share my enthusiasm with you!

Aviator's watch Breitling AVI 765 1953 Re-Edition

Particularly faithful to the original model, the AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition first pleasantly surprises by its contemporary dimensions in 2021, even though they are in line with those of the 50s in terms of diameter.

Fidelity is also in evidence on the case side with a design that is essentially vintage: mushroom-type chronograph pushers, a fine winding crown, and a very refined polished bi-directional bezel… A success.

The most beautiful is however, in my opinion, to be found on the dial side.
Almost entirely in conformity with the 1953 model, it alone can justify the acquisition of this limited edition.

Benefiting a functionality worthy of the line of toolwatches from which it comes from, it reminds us of those hours when the pilots of the air force were real heroes.
The most observant among you will have noticed the (deliberate) irregularity of the luminescent material deposited on the numeral markers, which offers us, at night, a highly vintage spectacle magnified by the presence of a domed hesalite glass!

Moreover, its sober and masculine elegance will allow you to wear the Breitling AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition in all circumstances.
All the more so as it nowadays embodies a reliable contemporary movement.

In short, a little marvel that I am a fan of!

Elegant and vintage watch for men

Further Information
  • Breitling offers the AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition, alongside this steel version on a black dial, in a red gold version / black dial and in a platinum version / blue dial.
  • Wrist of the writer / tester = 17,5cm

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