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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|
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 a significant 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).