THE 1960’s has had many labels hung on those scant 10 years. ‘Swinging sixties’ among them.
I suppose it’s the sibilant sound of the words that most readily catches. Though for me a young man those years are the years of aviation. The jet ages. The Boeing 707, the Mercury and Apollo space programmes and yes the Big and Ugly B52’s the Phantom fighter bombers. The Phantoms almost missed the battle but had a vast gun pod belatedly bolted on to them as the military discovered that the ‘man on man’ aerial dog fight was not quite history, not just yet. The era closed with the cult film ‘Easy Rider’ and general disappointment. The easy sex that was not, the clothes that seem to be recycled again and again over the intervening decades. I see that Hippie fashion is once again strutting along the catwalks. I want to howl, with laughter I hope, as I remember the first time that hippie fashion strolled around the corner.
Some objects endure and so become iconic, aviator sunglasses and the Breitling watches are among the few that have endured. There was not a boy or for that matter young man that did not really want a pair of Aviator Sunglasses. They were accessible and placed you at the cutting edge of everything; War, Space, engineering. Frankly any laptop or cellphone really does not compare. Does not even start to compete with the style status bestowed by Aviators or a Breitling watch. Which begs the question, why has Breitling not reissued or recycled the Swinging Sixties? Everyone else has. Aviator sunglasses have tried a comeback at least every couple years over the last five or six decades. Breitling though awaited the arrival of Georges Kern as their CEO and leader. Georges Kern joined Breitling a scant three years ago and yes, he has been busy. This year the Breitling Navitimer Ref 806 1959 Re-Edition has arrived. The watch replicates almost to the smallest detail the design of the of the most venerated early Navitimers the Breitling Ref 806, including an all-black dial with tone on tone subdials and a rotating beaded bezel. To mark the year, this watch design was first produced it has been created in an edition of limited production of 1959 pieces each individually numbered and engraved on the case back.
“In the past year, we’ve been thrilled to learn that there are so many people who have always been passionate about Breitling’s legacy and that there’s enormous interest not only in our new products but also in our heritage and our early timepieces. The Navitimer Ref. 806 Re-Edition will give new Breitling fans and people who have followed the brand for decades a chance to own and enjoy their own exclusive piece of our legendary past.”
The only concession to modernity is the water resistance which has now been increased to 3 bar [30 meters] and a Super-LumiNova coating. Which though a modern material very great care has been taken to ensure that it remains faithful to the luminescent material on the earlier watches, a hand finished application gives the dial a final vintage touch.
A stainless-steel case, a leather strap, the famous circular slide rule placed beneath a high domed acrylic glass fashioned in exactly the same shape as the original. The Breitling Navitimer Ref. 806 1959 Re-Edition also tells the time. Wear the flash of the sixties for GBP7,000 or around Euro 8,000
Nick Horne, London, England