The history of Breitling’s 765 AVI watches are rooted in French aviation and has close ties to the Breguet Type 20. In the 1950s Breitling was competing for the contract to supply the French Army and as such developed the 765. As we all know by now, they did not win it as it lacked a flyback function and the contract instead went to Breguet, Vixa, Auricoste and Dodane, which eventually produced the Type 20’s for the French Air Force.
That being said, today the Breitling 765 is still seen as one of the most legendary utilitarian watches produced in the 20th century and they are extremely collectable. This example you see here is a second generation AVI that features a rare all-black dial. Later, more common variants evolved to have reverse panda dials and as with most references, the earlier the execution, the more desirable.
What I love about the 765 AVIs is that they are purely utility watches. With its large 41mm stainless steel case, it features a graduated bidirectional hour bezel and lume filled syringe hands and Arabic numerals. The black dial is reminiscent of most military watches of the era and interestingly, it has a 15 minute counter at the 3 o’clock subdial rather than your usual 30. This was because the 765 was made for pilots and 15 minutes was how long it took to do a pre-flight check before the plane had to take off.
Powered by the Venus 178, it is a very high-quality column wheel calibre that was in direct competition with the Valjoux 72.
Breitling as a whole has been trending with collectors and right at the top of that are the 765 AVI’s. Its huge case is very wearable for modern standards and its rarity will ensure its collectibility for years to come.