The Breitling Navitimer 806 with a black dial and sub-dials was on my wish list for quite a time. But it is not an easy watch to get your hands on. Despite that fact, I had two of them within the last two years. Well, as of today, I don’t have any either anymore. Let’s hear the story.

I have a Breitling Navitimer 806 with white sub-dials, but the all-black 806 is a different animal. The syringe hands, fat Arabic numerals for the hours, and fully numbered hour totalizer represent an entirely different watch to me. Visually, it’s one of the most astonishing and individualistic vintage chronographs one can have.

Image: Shuck the Oyster

My first Breitling Navitimer 806

It took me about two years to find an example I liked. It was listed by a German dealer, and it seemed to be in phenomenal condition. I didn’t mind that it came with an original box either. But, as you might’ve already guessed, I paid a premium for the watch. I was all over the moon when it arrived, but my joy lasted just a few moments. When I strapped the watch on my wrist and examined it for a while, I realized there was a big dent in the dial.

I don’t remember exactly how long it was, but let’s say I kept the watch for a couple of days. I liked it very much. In direct sunlight, it was just a spectacular look. But knowing there was a big flaw on the dial really annoyed me. As you can see in the detailed shots above, the paint was a bit swollen. My watchmaker was not sure enough to tell me whether it could peel off at some point. What bothered me even more was the misalignment of the dial edge and the bezel. When looking at the dial from the side, I could see that it rose way above the bezel. It didn’t look good.

Breitling Navitimer 806 wrist shot

A difficult but correct decision

I loved a lot of other things about this Navitimer 806, especially the intact lume that had aged into beautiful orange tones. But for the €12K I had paid, it was not acceptable. Looking back on the decision I made two years ago, I would do the same now. It was not easy to let this watch go, but I decided to return it. For the record, the dealer didn’t notice this “bug” when he listed the watch, and he accepted my request to return it in milliseconds. And there I was — on the hunt once again.

Breitling Navitimer 806

Another year passed…

And then I spotted another all-black Navitimer 806. This time, it was on the opposite side of the spectrum of visuality, taste, and condition. The watch was heavily worn but honest. It was worn in a way that maintained its integrity and had millions of “freckles” and scratches of various lengths. Still, it didn’t have a defect that ruined its original look. Judge for yourself. If I compare it to the first all-black Navitimer 806 I had, that single damage was so severe that I found it way more problematic than the level of wear on the latter. And this is the point: a worn watch can be more acceptable than a seemingly NOS one with a single deal-breaking flaw.

Breitling Navitimer 806 dial close-up

Patina can be desirable

Upon arrival, my second all-black 806 went to my watchmaker. It received a full cleaning, service, and even a new white bezel because I found the old one slightly too worn. If you remember my dilemma story about whether to relume watch hands or not, you can see how much I like heavily patinated watches.

It’s almost unbelievable that we are looking at two examples of the same watch model in the picture above. Patina or aging can add to (or detract from) a watch’s character.

Not much patina, only nostalgia

After winning my second all-black Navitimer 806 at auction, I was super excited to see and wear it. Not to mention, it cost me half the budget of the first one. But then something unexpected happened. The moment I strapped on my second Navitimer 806, I realized I missed the nice visuals of the pristine example I got the first time. No matter how much I usually like patina, this time, it simply didn’t click. I could not stop thinking about the better example I’d had in my possession (not counting the fatal damage). As my budget isn’t endless and I realized that I had worn my second all-black 806 once or, at most, twice since it had arrived, I made up my mind. It deserved someone who would fully appreciate it and give it some daylight. I decided to let it go.

Back to my New Year’s resolution

The watch is gone now, and I am happy I learned how to say goodbye to a watch. This is something I could not have imagined happening two or three years ago. Since my focus shifted toward Gallet chronographs, it was much easier to set this Breitling free. I can’t have them all anyway… Years of sitting in my safe is not what I wanted for any of my watches. Last week, my 806 found its new home in the Netherlands, and the new owner will give it much more wrist time than I ever would. Seeing him happy makes me happy. And you know the real problem of our hobby, don’t you? My diet didn’t last long. This week, another crazy-rare Gallet chronograph popped up, so it seems the “one out, one in” rule worked perfectly this time. Happy hunting!