The Strange Story Of 40 Military-Issued Breitling Reference 817 Chronographs Auctioned By The Italian Government For A Mystery Price

The Strange Story Of 40 Military-Issued Breitling Reference 817 Chronographs Auctioned By The Italian Government For A Mystery Price

The Breitling 817 resembles a military watch totally; from its unmistakable dark dial and bezel to its exceptional decipherability, everything on this watch is about usefulness first. This chronograph really looks fundamentally the same as the Leonidas CP-2 that was likewise used by the Italian Army, just as to the Heuer Bund trusted by the pilots of the German Federal Republic Forces. The Breitling is nonetheless a replacement of both better-known watches, being delivered exclusively in 1975. Its highlights are a long way from arbitrary, as they answer the prerequisites of the Italian Army for its CP-1 and CP-2 classes, the 39.5mm instance of the 817 coordinating the size of other CP-1 watches precisely. Strangely, this Breitling was never offered in a regular citizen version.

The Breitling 817 bears solid likeness with other military-gave watches like the Leonidas CP-2 or the Heuer Bund. (Photograph: civility of Radiumstash)

The 1975 date merits a touch of setting: the 1970s were a long way from Breitling’s prime, the company being en route to a close insolvency, which brought about the 1979 deal to Ernest Schneider. It isn’t that Breitling had neglected to develop, unexpectedly. Close by Heuer, Buren, and Dubois-Depraz, Breitling was associated with the improvement of one of the main programmed chronograph types, the “Chronomatic” type 11, dispatched in 1969. In any case, advancement went farther than this simple specialized accomplishment, with quartz becoming attractive during the 1970s and Swiss brands falling drastically behind their Japanese competitors in that field.

So, the 1970s were not so glad for Breitling and its counterparts, which clarifies how a particularly military request might have gotten the green lights. From the couple of Breitling 817 that have surfaced, it appears to be that the absolute yield was genuinely unobtrusive, with a group most likely sitting somewhere close to 500 and 1,000 units. Those watches were then each given a military assistance number engraved outwardly of the caseback, an alternate number from the Breitling chronic number that can be found within the caseback.

The Breitling 817 with its unique box and arm band. (Photograph: politeness Sweeping Hand)

These series of digits permit us to set up that all reference 817 were delivered in 1974/1975, and they additionally permit us to follow the enduring models. A prepared Breitling authority saved top notch for quite a long time, and added up to 31 distinct models, albeit this rundown doesn’t profess to be completely comprehensive in any capacity. For example, a touch of burrowing permits us to find the numbers 054, 424,  475 , and 462  too. Besides, Italian gatherers affirm that they have seen a lot more models in the nearby market (intelligently since every one of the 817 were given to Italian powers), however there’s less documentation there.

These observes initially went ahead a Japanese-made growing wristband, and were housed in a crate perusing “Cronometro da Polso Mod. 1 Unif.,” again a notice of the CP-1 standard that this chronograph followed, with the outstanding exemption of the flyback complication (possibly clarifying the “Unificato” which would stamp a development over the first CP-1). Note that the general presence of the lume, which abnormally ages diversely between the painted numerals and the handset. The previous will in general turn greenish while the hands take a hazier yellow, if not orange, patina. This is by all accounts ordinary and right across all the known examples.

The chronic number dates the creation to 1975. (Photograph: graciousness of Casowatches)

The administration number on the caseback, EI meaning “Esercito Italiano,” or Italian Army. (Photograph: graciousness of Sweeping Hand)

This verifiable acquaintance drives us with the new gathering deal, with 40 of these chronographs being offered at the same time in October 2016. Also, this amazing deal didn’t occur in an extravagant inn assembly hall or a restrictive sales management firm salon. All things considered, it was considerably more of a regulatory interaction through a quiet delicate offer. It sounds complicated, yet it isn’t: the most noteworthy proposal for all the 40 Breitling watches would win them all. The beginning stage was at €28,000 in addition to VAT (22%) , and enrollment was an extensive and awkward cycle (exclusively joined partnerships were permitted to compete), with the public authority administrative noise you’d expect, so one may accept that a large portion of the bidders were Italian themselves, likely settled Italian watch vendors. Strangely, it was set up straightforward that none of the offers would be uncovered, including the triumphant offer that prevailed in late October 2016. In this way, eventually, we have no clue about what these watches really sold for, complicating the story a bit.

The Breitling 817 depends on the chronograph type Valjoux 236. (Photograph: graciousness of Radiumstash)

While the €28,000 section cost may seem like a serious cost for vintage Breitling, recollect this is for 40 watches, and it winds up averaging out to under $1,000 per chronograph, under 10% of the watch’s present worth . Clearly, we can wager that the triumphant offer wound up a lot higher than this. What’s more, we can be additionally semi sure that the parcel was promptly isolated and offered to outsiders, for those watches to independently show up on the optional market, in the near future if not as of now (we heard gossipy tidbits about one seeming this week). Subsequently, it will be intriguing to observe them spring up and see whether this new pool of 817 anily affects the estimation of this reference. All things considered, extraordinariness (valid or saw) consistently assume a major part in the valuation of vintage watches, and here the newcomers will change the set up request. One single deal has dramatically increased the known stock of these watches – that is hard to exaggerate here. Albeit one ought not fail to remember that chronographs are as of now hot, and military chronographs much more smoking, so the new bunch of 817 may very well fulfill 40 new authorities, and leave a lot of others still on the hunt. 

Official declaration of the sale from the Italian specialists. (Civility of Italian forum)

Of course, it is essential to know whether those decommissioned pieces were sold with the help numbers flawless on the caseback, or if those were preventively polished out. A source near the matter says he has seen one model from the bartering with its military inscriptions flawless, so there is in any event a really respectable possibility that this is the situation for all pieces. Likewise with all military-gave pieces, this is really the critical driver for esteeming such watches. Regardless, it is astonishing news that these Breitlings can be delighted in as opposed to having been obliterated, as so frequently occurs with gave gear. Furthermore, for vintage nerds such as myself, it was valuable to get an affirmation from the Italian Army itself that the Breitling 817 were solely made for its own advantage , and simply circulated to pilots and paratroopers, the two realities affirming the limited scale of the first order.

A gathering of Breilting 817 showing the distinction in the lume maturing of the handset and lists. (Photograph: kindness of Breitling authority Dracha)

For the Italian speakers, you can discover more data on the Italian discussion Orologi  while the closeout warning is accessible on the Ministero della Difesa site .