The replica Breitling Navitimer 806 watch review

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As a watch collector, if you are missing in your drawer inside the Breitling Navitimer 806 watch, it will be a regret.
About Breitling Navitimer 806 men's Watch

photo © WatchClub London

In the movie Thunderball (1965), two Breitling watches are prominently used. The first Breitling in the film is a Breitling Navitimer, reference 806, which changes hands several times in the film. The watch is originally owned by François Derval, a French NATO pilot deployed to fly aboard an Avro Vulcan loaded with two atomic bombs for a training mission. Captain Derval is killed by Angelo, a SPECTRE henchman surgically altered to match Derval's appearance. Angelo straps on Derval's watch to complete his Derval outfit. Angelo takes Derval's place on the NATO flight, sabotaging the plane and sinking it near the Bahamas, but he is then killed by Emilio Largo (SPECTRE No. 2) for trying to extort more money than offered to him. When James Bond (Sean Connery) finds the plane, he takes the watch from Angelo's dead body (note that the watch in the underwater scene is not the Breitling even though it's supposed to be the Navitimer). Bond later gives it, along with Derval's ID tag, to Domino to prove Derval has been killed by Largo. Domino puts the watch and ID tag in her bag and that's the last we see of it.

The Breitling Navitimer was (and still is) a pilot's watch, which makes it a good choice for Derval's character. The Navitimer 806 seen in Thunderball is a mid-1960s model, 4th generation of the 806 with Venus 178 movement and different bezel from the previous generations. The watch in the film has a black dial, steel case, three white subdials (at the left, right and bottom) and a black leather strap with black stitching. The Navitimer 806 was available with 'Twin Jet' emblem (pictured on the left) to indicate that it was sold through the Breitling distribution. During the 1950s and 1960s, the Navitimer was also offered by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, with the AOPA logo on the dial in stead of the twin jet logo. Unfortunately it's impossible to see which logo the movie watch has.

It appears that the all-black dials were gradually replaced from possibly as early as 1959 with dials with silvered subdials and that the hands and the bezel were also replaced with later designs from ca 1960 onwards. A further complication is that hands from the AVI model may have been used on the ref 806 during this period.

Without reliable documentation it is difficult to be absolutely sure of the facts but most collectors and experts agree that there was a transition period between about 1959 and the early 1960's when Navitimers were released with a mixture of old and new features. However it is always possible that earlier watches have had later dials and/or hands fitted during a service, or even that later watches had earlier parts fitted, so great caution is needed by the serious collector who is concerned with 100% originality when purchasing an 806 from this transition period.

After the move to the new versions the model reference remained 806 and as before the Navitimer was available in steel, gold-filled or 18K gold.


An early silvered subdials Navitimer 806 with beaded bezel dating from ca 1959 to the early 60's.
This watch has the old-style hour and minute hands. It is not known whether the later-style
centre seconds hand is original or was fitted during a service.


The early silvered subdials Navitimer 806 with its box and manual. Photographed in 2004,
this watch still appears to have its original lizard strap.

Very soon the bezel and hands were updated although either of the two versions of the manual, both depicting the all-black dial version on the cover, continued to be supplied.


1964 Navitimer ref 806, AOPA dial, with its box and manual. Although unclear in this picture, the manual cover depicts an all-black dial ref 806. (later strap)

The replica Breitling Navitimer ref 806 watch at