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Maker: Breitling
Year: 1960s
Model: Rare AOPA 1960s Navitimer Cosmonaute with Small Sub-Dials and Gilt AOPA Wings Logo. Originally from Biggin Hill Flying Club! Rare Transitional Collector's Piece in 100% Mint Original Condition on Breitling Crocodile Skin Strap.
Movement: Breitling Venus 178 with 24hr Gearing Mechanism
Case: Snap-Back Signed Stainless Steel Breitiling 809
Dial: Mint Original 24hr AOPA Navitimer Dial
Band: Now on £350 Genuine Breitling Crocodile Skin Stitched and Padded Strap
Our Ref: 809
Diameter: 44 (with crown) mm
Height: 13 mm
Lug to Lug: 47 mm
Band Width: 22 mm

"In 1959 Lt Cmdr Scott Carpenter was selected as one of seven astronauts for the NASA Mercury program. Carpenter was a US Navy test pilot who had flown in combat in the Korean war and who wore a Breitling Navitimer (12-hour version) during the 1950's. After selection he contacted Breitling and suggested they make a 24-hour version of the Navitimer pilot's watch. 1961 a 24-hour version of the Navitimer 806 was released. It had the usual Navitimer model reference number 806 and like the 12-hour version had the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) wings logo on the dial. After this (most likely during 1962) the 24-hour version was given a new model reference "809" and was named the "Navitimer Cosmonaute". Confusingly many ref 809's had the word "NAVITIMER" on the dial but not "COSMONAUTE" but it is the generally accepted convention amongst watch collectors that all ref 809's are Cosmonautes and all ref 806's are Navitimers. Apart from the 24-hour gearing, the movement was the same Venus caliber 178 as in the 12-hour Navitimer. The Venus star logo and '178' can be seen under the balance wheel. In June 1961 the name "Cosmonaute" was registered by Breitling with the Swiss Office of Intellectual Property and it is believed that manufacture of the Cosmonaute, model reference 809, began during that year. However the name "Cosmonaute" did not always appear on the dial. Scott Carpenter eventually received his own 24-hour Breitling on the 21st May, 1962 just three days before his historic flight in space and he can be seen wearing it over his left glove in historic photographs of the mission." This particular watch was bought from the son of the owner of Biggin Hill Flying Club who took it in lieu of a debt from one of the members of that club in the 1960's. It has been in the family ever since until we managed to acquire it. It is in mint condition throughout especially the dial which is clear and bright, with the white outer dial very clean, unlike most that you see. This was probably because the watch was stored away from direct sunlight for many years. By 1962 the model reference of the 24-hour Navitimer had become 809 and it is generally accepted that the ref 809 is a "Cosmonaute" no matter what is written (or not written) on the dial. There were various permutations of dials/bezels during the 1960ís. Some were named 'COSMONAUTE', some 'NAVITIMER' and some watches had both names on the dial. Some watches had the old 'B' logo and/or the AOPA wings as this one does and these are prised by collectors. This watch has this gilt AOPA logo and the bezel is the new style that replaced the previous 'beaded' bezels, making it a rarer transitional model probably dating from 1964/1965. A rare collector's piece in 100% mint original condition. For a full history of this watch from which this extract is taken, please see: http://forums.watchuseek.com/showthread.php?t=4034 Now comes on £350 Genuine Breitling Crocodile Skin Stitched and Padded Strap!

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