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Breitling is a Swiss watch brand that has been making luxury timepieces since 1884. They are particularly well known for their pilot's watches, which have developed a global following over the years. Thanks to its rich heritage, Breitling is one of the most popular watchmakers on the market.

How are Breitling watches identified?

For many years, Breitling has used a dual reference number and serial number system to identify a watch's production series and to keep track of its manufacture and sale. They are also regarded as a key signifier that a timepiece is authentic, as no true Breitling is produced without these numbers.

To begin with, each watch within a series is given identical reference numbers, which record that their design, material, and movement are the same. Then, each individual watch is etched with a unique serial number to differentiate it from the others in the production series. This way, watches can be identified as part of a particular run, as well as being told apart from one another.

Where can I find the reference and serial numbers on my Breitling watch?

Both the reference number and serial number can be found on the underside of your watch's casing. The reference number is a 12-digit code that consists of numbers and letters, for example A2332212/B635, while the length of the serial number can vary from model to model.

What do the reference and serial numbers mean?

While the production series reference number carries a lot of meaning, a serial number is usually just a unique number to mark one particular watch. It is only really meaningful to Breitling, who can use it to track the sale and lifespan of an individual timepiece.

The reference number, on the other hand, is more of a code, where each digit communicates information about the watch type, movement, and certification. The reference number can be interpreted in the following way:



Example references


Case/bezel material – single letter

A – Steel bezel/case

B – Steel bezel/case/gold riders

C – Rose gold bezel/steel case

D – Yellow gold bezel/steel case

E – Titanium bezel/case

F – 18kt bezel/titanium case

G – White gold bezel/steel case

H – 18kt rose gold bezel/case

J – 18kt white gold bezel/case

K – 18kt yellow gold bezel/case

L – Platinum bezel/steel case

M – Blacksteel bezel/case

N – Carbon case

P – Platinum bezel/steel case

R – Red gold bezel/case

T – Palladium bezel/case

V – Black titanium bezel/case

X - Breitlight® case

Y – Ceramic bezel/steel case

2 & 3

Movement (calibre) used – two numbers or letters

10–49 – Mechanical movements

50+ - Quartz movements

Note: Many modern Breitling watches use in-house movements marked with BXX (a B and two numbers). These movements are always COSC Certified so the extra digit used to mark the movement replaces the fourth COSC Certified number (below).


COSC Certified – single number

0 – Non-COSC certified

3 – COSC Certified

5 & 6

Model type – two numbers

Two numbers of no pattern are used to represent the model type.

7 & 8

Finish type – two numbers

10 – Satin/brushed/titanium finish

11 – No special finish

12 – Polished finish

13 – Satin and polished finish

53 – Diamond bezel


Dial colour – single letter

A – Mother of pearl, white, beige, ivory, arctica

B – Black, anthracite, diamond black, royal ebony

C – Blue, Moroccan blue, meteor, Neptune blue, peacock blue

E – Rhodium

F – Slate, slate-grey

G – Silver, silver storm

H – Champagne, amber, desert dune

I – Yellow

J – Smoke grey

K – Red, burgundy, sunset, rose

L – Green, turquoise, laurel green, spruce

M – Graphite, titanium

O – Coral

Q – Bronze, Havana, grey violet, burnt oak

10, 11 & 12

Design of the dial – three digits

Three digits of no pattern are used to represent the model type.

Here is an example of how to break down a code:

AB011012/BF76 – Breitling Chronomat 44 in polished steel

A – Steel bezel/case

B01 – In-house movement (COSC Certified)

10 – Model type

12 – Polished finish

B – Black dial colour

F76 – Dial design code

Can I tell how old my Breitling is from its serial or reference number?

Though these numbers convey quite a lot of information, they don't contain the date the watch was produced. In addition, the serial numbers can't be dated like those on Rolex or Omega watches.

However, in recent years, Breitling has started stamping their watches with production dates. This means that, if you have a fairly recent timepiece from the brand, you can probably find out exactly when it was made.

The date stamps are coded into a four-digit number that represents the week and year the watch was manufactured. The first two numbers state the week (1–52) and the last two mark the year so, for example, 1213 would translate to the twelfth week (March) of 2013.

Where can I find the date stamp on my Breitling watch?

The date stamp on your Breitling watch can be found on the case between the lower lugs (the parts that attach the strap or bracelet). To uncover this part of the case, you will need to remove your strap or bracelet. If you've never taken a watch strap off before, we recommend that you visit a trusted jeweller who will have specialist tools.

Do fake Breitling watches have serial numbers?

Over the past few years, the market has been flooded with fake Breitling watches, some of which have serial numbers and some that don't. All genuine Breitling timepieces will have a serial number and reference number as described previously, so this should be the first thing you check for if you aren't sure about your watch's authenticity.

Though many cheaper fakes make no effort with serial numbers, more expensive replicas often have all the standard engravings on their casing, making it harder to tell the difference. Most Breitlings have the serial and reference listed in the documentation that accompanies the watch, so be sure to check that they match the numbers on your casing. If they don't, you could be in possession of a replica. It's also worth searching your serial number on the internet, as many fakes make use of the same serial to try to feign authenticity. Watch sites and forums often flag up these numbers to help.

If you're still not sure, you can check the numbers with Breitling themselves, who will be able to confirm whether it is a genuine timepiece. You can also take your watch to a trusted jeweller to be appraised.

Want to sell your Breitling watch?

Now that you know how to find out how old your Breitling watch is and whether it's authentic or not, you may be interested in finding out how much it's worth.

Here at Est1897, we have a team of wristwatch experts who can accurately place a value on any Breitling watch. If you wish, you can use our Sell My Watch service to complete the sale of your timepiece quickly and easily with zero hassle.

We also have a range of pre-owned Breitling watches that may be of interest if you are looking to expand your collection with a new luxury addition. Contact us today if you have any questions about anything in this guide or you want to know more about our services.

By H&T Pawnbrokers

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