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Breitling uses reference numbers to uniquely identify its models. Every model inside a production series gets the same reference number, meaning that its design, material, and movement type are exactly the same (aside from the dial color, sometime the hands, and of course the band).
The serial number, in addition to the reference number, ensures that no 2 watches will bear the same numbers, even if they are physically identical.
Reference and serial numbers on the case-back of a Breitling Navitimer
Please note that over the years, Breitling had many different ways of choosing reference numbers. The memo displayed below applies to modern watches (from 1991 onwards), and may not be perfectly accurate.
Examples of Breitling 6-digit reference numbers:
|B||SS with 18k yellow gold rider tabs|
|C||SS with 18k rose gold bezel|
|D||SS with 18k yellow gold bezel|
|F||titanium with 18k yellow gold rider tabs)|
|H||solid rose gold|
|J||solid white gold|
|K||solid yellow gold|
|P||stainless steel with platinum bezel|
|R||solid red gold|
|W||stainless steel with tungsten carbide bezel|
B01). Otherwise, the movement base is sourced from an external supplier, and often modified to improve the chronometric performances or appearance, or add a complication. (The table below is heavily based on «Buffmen»'s list.)
|Non-manufacture caliber number||Base movement (and added complications, if applicable)|
|12||Lemania 1873, with a 24-hour cycle|
|13||ETA 7750 Valjoux|
|14||ETA 2892A2, with a date/12-hour chronograph module; or ETA 2897|
|15||ETA 2892A2, with a GMT/day-night/calendar module|
|17||ETA 2824 / 2824-2|
|18||ETA 2892A2, with a 12-hour chronograph/moonphase/perpetual calendar module|
|19||ETA 2892A2, with a 12-hour chronograph/moonphase/4-year calendar module|
|20||ETA 7750 Valjoux, with second time zone complication|
|21||ETA 7751 Valjoux|
|22||ETA 2892A2, with flyback 12-hour chronograph module and a 24-hour cycle|
|23||ETA 7753 Valjoux|
|24||ETA 7754 Valjoux|
|26||ETA 2892A2, with a chronograph module (?)|
|27||ETA 2892A2, with a date/chronograph module with central minutes-seconds and combined minutes-seconds subdial|
|30||ETA 2892A2, with a date/12-hour chronograph module|
|32||ETA 2892A2, with GMT complication|
|33||ETA 2892A2, with 3-hour chronograph/date subdial module|
|34||Frédéric Piguet 1186|
|35||ETA 2892A2 (with a 3-hour flyback chronograph module|
|36||ETA 2892A2 (with a 10-minute timer, 3-hour chronograph module|
|38||ETA 2892A2, with a 12-hour chronograph/4-year calendar module|
|39||ETA 2892A2, with a 24-hour indication/combined minutes-hours 12-hour chronograph module|
|40||ETA 2892A2, with a 3-hour chronograph module, no date|
|41||ETA 2892A2, with a 12-hour chronograph module|
|42||ETA 2892A2, with a 3-hour chronograph module|
|43||ETA 7758 Valjoux|
|44||ETA 2892A2, with a big date/12-hour chronograph module|
|47||ETA 2892A2, with a date/GMT/6-hour chronograph module|
|48||ETA 7763 Valjoux|
|55||Piguet MecaQuartz 1270|
|69||Piguet MecaQuartz 1271|
|72||ETA Thermoline 956.152|
|73||ETA Thermoline 251.232|
|74||ETA Thermoline 955.652|
|75||ETA Thermoline 988.352|
|76||ETA Thermoline 988.352|
|77||ETA Thermoline 956.652|
|78||ETA Thermoline E20.341|
Important: for the in-house calibers B01, B02 etc., the caliber number is actually 3 digits (e.g. AB0131) and there is no information about COSC certification (that is not needed since they are all certified).
The full reference number contains
an additional series of numbers (and sometimes letters)
to identify the type of bracelet.
For instance, A13352-355 points to a stainless steel Chronomat with a Pilot bracelet.
Some models have a .1 suffix to indicate that some improvement has been made over the previous model. This has notably been seen on 13050.1 Chronomats, 12023.1 Cosmonautes, but the nature of the enhancement has not been formally indicated (in this case, this may be the use of Super-LumiNova pigments).
The Breitling reference numbers search engine is an ongoing effort. Its goal is to gather data about previous and existing Breitling models (including, but not limited to, price and date of production).