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Breitling revamps another old favourite with the new AVI Ref. 765 1953 re-edition

Just a year after striking gold with its remake of the OG Navitimer, Breitling announces the new AVI Ref. 765 — an ‘oversized’ pilot’s chrono to be released in three limited editions.

Left to right: the original AVI Ref. 765 (released in 1953) versus the new, stainless steel re-edition.

Roughly a year after Breitling dropped its best-selling Navitimer Ref. 806 remake, lovers of aero-inspired watchmaking are once again in for a treat. Last week, CEO Georges Kern dropped the first teaser for the new AVI Ref. 765 over on Instagram — an inch-for-inch remake (for the most part) of Breitling’s 1953 chronograph of the same name. Limited to a production of 1,953 pieces (in steel), the modern AVI Ref. 765 replicates, in exacting detail, the mid-century stylings of its predecessor — plus a couple of technological upgrades for better usability.

Following its release in 1953, the first AVI Ref. 765 was produced in several iterations until 1965, when Breitling rebranded it the ‘Co-Pilot’. Throughout that period, the watch exhibited a design language typical of early aviation-themed chronographs. Indexes were presented as large Arabic numerals, the handset was configured in the then-popular ‘syringe’ style and the bezel included a countdown scale — adjusted, in this case, for 12 hours. These assorted features made the AVI Ref. 765 a popular choice among military aviators of the period, whose core concerns for a wristwatch were toughness and legibility.

Historical enthusiasts will be delighted to know that Breitling has done a spot-on job nailing all of these period touches. The original 41.1mm case has been carried over — considered to be oversized in the 60s — and is, per brand representatives, an exact recreation of the AVI Ref. 765’s dimensions. Blessedly, Breitling’s designers opted to forego adding a date window — a detail which is often poorly executed within the context of modern chronograph design — whilst keeping in finishes which give a trace of ornamentation to the traditional ‘3-6-9’ chrono. (Note the radial guilloche pattern within each register.)

That’s not to say there are no differences between the remade AVI Ref. 765 and its predecessor. Most obviously, the dial’s signature is now composed of a single line of text, dropping the ‘Geneve’ branding which would have been present in 1953. In addition, modern manufacturing processes have allowed Breitling to make one or two key technological improvements as a matter of course — none of which detracts from the watch’s throwback styling. The case is now water resistant to a very pool-friendly 30m; and the movement — Breitling’s in-house calibre B09 — utilises a vertical clutch set-up that has enabled the power reserve to be topped up to 70 hours.

AVI Ref. 765
AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition

In addition to the 1,953-piece run that makes up the bulk of the release, Breitling is also offering the new AVI Ref. 765 in 18k red gold and platinum variations. The latter is a particularly exciting high-end evocation, combining a case in precious metal, complementary blue dial and warm fauxtina highlights throughout.

This article first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Hong Kong.

Randy Lai
Having worked in the Australian digital media landscape for over 5 years, Randy has extensive experience in men's specialist categories such as classic clothing, watches and spirits. He is partial to mid-century chronographs and a nice chianti.