The origins of Breitling's 765 AVI watches can be traced back to French aviation and their close connection to the Breguet Type 20. During the 1950s, Breitling vied for a contract to supply the French Army and thus created the 765 model. However, the absence of a flyback function in the AVI led to its rejection, and the contract was awarded to Breguet, Vixa, Auricoste, and Dodane, who subsequently manufactured the Type 20 watches for the French Air Force.
Nevertheless, the Breitling 765 continues to be regarded as one of the most iconic and practical timepieces produced in the 20th century, making it highly sought after among collectors. The specific model being presented here is a later variant known as the 1765 Unitime with a 24-hour dial.
The dial of the Ref. 1765 Unitime is adorned with a white Breitling logo prominently displayed. Just below the logo, you will find the inscription 'Breitling Geneve Unitime' indicating the brand and model. The chronograph, minute, and hour hands are all white which contrasts the matte black dial nicely. Positioned at 3, 6, and 9 o'clock, the sub-dials serve the functions of measuring 30 minutes, 12 hours and displaying the sub-seconds respectively. Positioned at the six o'clock position, just below the 12-hour register, there is a marking denoted by the letter 'T', which signifies the use of Tritium luminescent material on the dial. Enclosed within a 41mm stainless steel case, the Ref. 1765 Unitime features a bi-directional rotating bezel with a 24-hour scale, allowing for tracking of time in different time zones.
Powering the watch from within is a 17-jewelled, manual-winding Venus Cal. 178, a movement that is widely regarded as one of the most renowned column wheel-operated chronograph movements ever created. It also features a power reserve of 45 hours. The unique aspect of this column wheel chronograph movement is that instead of the typical 12-hour dial, it features a 24-hour dial whereby the hour hand would require 24 hours to complete a full rotation.
I must say that vintage Breitling has been gaining significant popularity among collectors in recent times, and some of the most sought-after models within their lineup are the 765 AVI and post-AVI variants like this Ref. 1765 Unitime. Despite its seemingly large case size, I am pleased to say that the watch remains highly wearable and comfortable by modern standards. Adding to its allure is its rarity, with estimates suggesting that fewer than 1000 units were ever produced. This scarcity guarantees its status as a collectable timepiece that will continue to appreciate in value for years to come.