The entry-point of fifties cheap Breitling fake watches is not cheap. Well, not as affordable as last week’s Omega. With the growing popularity of vintage watch collecting, Breitling timepieces from the 1950s have become increasingly hard to find, and the prices have gone up drastically. But despite the price increases, the Breitling Chronomat ref. 808 is still a watch you can find, and you don’t have to sell a kidney to get one. However, you might not be able to buy one for $1,400 like Mike did in 2015 — as he explained in his article about the steel case copy Breitling Chronomat ref. 808.
Mike also perfectly explained that the Chronomat is one of those watches that has its roots in the 1940s. The Breitling Chronomat replica with brown leather strap has seen various designs over the decades. It is still part of the Breitling collection today. I love the current Chronomat, but the initial generations of the watch looked completely different. The early Chronomat is the watch that sparked the functionalities and design of the iconic Navitimer. The Chronomat was first released in late 1941, early 1942.
The main functional feature of the watch was patented by Breiting in 1941: the famous slide rule. After more than 15 years of production and a great variety of dial executions, Breitling replaced the first-generation Chronomat ref. 769 in the late 1950s with the copy Breitling Chronomat ref. 808.
Not made for navigation
For the Chronomat ref. 808 Breitling updated the design. The biggest update was going from rectangular pushers to round pump pushers. On top of that, Breitling changed the hands from needles to baton hands, increased the crown, and updated the hour markers from Arabic numerals to applied baton hour markers. What didn’t change was the movement. Both the ref. 769 and the ref. 808 were powered by the hand-wound Venus 175 movement. It’s a well-respected column wheel movement that’s a 2-register version of the Breitling-standard Venus 178. Unlike the Navitimer that came over a decade after the Chronomat, the Chronomat wasn’t created for navigational purposes. As Mike explained, “the Chronomat was made for engineers, mathematicians, and those who made it their task to solve problems.”
With a neatly sized 36mm case, its iconic slide rule, and its still-recognizable looks, the high-end copy Breitling Chronomat ref. 808 stayed in production until the late 1960s when a very different-looking automatic Chronomat replaced it. But the first two generations of the Chronomat will forever show where the Navitimer got its inspiration from. If you search for a Chronomat ref. 808, you will find steel, steel and gold-plated, and full gold versions. On top of that, there are several dial executions. Depending on your choice of materials and the condition of the watch, expect to pay anywhere from 2k–6k for this legendary Breitling. That’s a lot more affordable than the early model Navtimers. The Chronomat is a perfect entry into 1950s Breitling glory given its looks and historical significance.