Vintage watch reissues or homage pieces are a mixed bag. They can sometimes be a confusing mix of old and new style, and sometimes lose the charm of the original while also missing the mark for contemporary design. Breitling, like many other watchmakers, has a long and storied history, from which it can draw inspiration and, yes, even reissues. The company took a chance and created the AVI Reference 765 1953 Re-Edition, a watch based almost completely on the original 765 AVI from the 1950s. The pilot’s chronograph looks decent on the surface, so let’s get a feel for what makes it tick.
It’s a pilot’s watch, alright, but it isn’t just another chronograph. The 1953 Re-Edition features hand-applied Super-LumiNova with a color that is formulated to be almost identical to the original watch’s luminescent material. The case itself is identical to that of the original, and there are three screws holding the bezel in place, which are all in the exact positions they were on the 1953 timepiece.
Breitling says that the only modern conessions made on the watch are its improved water resistance, which is now up to 30 meters, and the removal of the Geneve text from the watch’s dial. Under the hood, the Breitling Calibre B09 hand-wind movement ticks away at 28,800 vibrations per hour, and features a 70-hour power reserve when fully wound.
Even though it’s a limited edition watch that focuses heavily on being as close to its 70-year-old predecessor as possible, the Re-Edition feels and looks about as modern as it gets. Perhaps that’s a sign that the original 41mm watch was advanced for its time, but it’s likely a better sign that many of Breitling’s designs are timeless.
On the wrist, the watch feels solid but compact, and wears easily on even small wrists. Despite its highly polished bezel and lug tops, the Re-Edition isn’t flashy or gaudy, but it’s best worn on a leather strap to keep the “bling factor” to a minimum. The domed sapphire crystal further bolsters the watch’s vintage appeal, and gives the dial a gentle distorted look as the light plays with it from various angles. Large numeric hour markers make it easy to instantly read the time, and the three chronograph sub-registers are clearly labeled in white text over the black dial.
Interacting with the watch is a joy, partially because of its buttery smooth hand-wound movement, but also because of its hefty chronograph pushers, which require some muscle to operate but feel great in the hand. Beyond the somewhat standard 12-hour chronograph display, the Re-Edition features the same 15-minute timer dial, which was originally used to track aircraft inspections, which were not to exceed the 15-minute mark.
Breitling has done something special with the 1953 Re-Edition, but it wouldn’t have been possible if the original watch hadn’t been so relatable to today’s tastes and expectations. After all, making a watch that is nearly identical to one from decades ago only really works if the original timepiece stands the test of time. Lucky for Breitling, it does, and the Re-Edition is a great addition to any collection with modern updates that will help it keep ticking for decades to come.