Model numbers: those sometimes short and sometimes long strings of numbers and letters associated with every watch must serve some purpose. Each watchmaker has their own style; Rolex uses four to six digits, Grand Seiko uses four letters followed by three numbers, and Omega uses 14 digits separated by periods along the way. While this may sound confusing, there is a method to the madness.
Since 1991, Breitling has used a 12-digit long string of letters and numbers for their model numbers. Many buyers and sellers will use only the first half of the model number, leaving the back half off in order to make things a little easier to remember and read. The seven to digits will tell you the case finish, dial color, and the design of the dial, which is all good information, but rarely does it influence the price or desirability of a watch, so it is often left off in the aftermarket. A typical model number will look something like this: A17316. So let’s break down what those letters and numbers mean.
The first space in all Breitling model numbers will actually be a letter. Each letter stands for a different material or combination of materials the watch case is made from.
Here is the breakdown.
A – Steel bezel and case
B – Steel bezel and case with gold rider tabs
C – Rose gold bezel with steel case
D – Yellow gold bezel with steel case
E – Titanium bezel with steel case
F – Gold bezel with titanium case
G – White gold bezel steel case
H – Rose gold bezel and case
I – Gold bezel insert
J – White gold bezel and case
K – Yellow gold bezel and case
L – Platinum bezel and case
M – Black steel bezel and case
N – Carbon case
P – Platinum bezel with steel case
R – Red gold bezel and case
T – Palladium bezel and case
V – Black titanium bezel and case
X – Breitlight case
Y – Ceramic bezel and steel case
As you can see Breitling has made watches in a wide range of materials, and this is a list that can grow as more materials are brought into the watch world. So with the model number A17316, we know that the A stands for steel bezel and case on this watch.
The next two numbers are for the movement on the inside of the watch. Breitling numbers the movement they use with two digits. For example, in the A17316 the 17 stands for the B17 movement. Inside an A10380 the 10 would stand for a B10 movement. The important thing to know is that any number between 10-49 is a mechanical movement, and anything 50 or above is a quartz movement.
The exception to this system is the B01 in-house caliber. Any watch with this movement inside will use the B01 in the model number, like in the AB0127.
This brings us to the fourth digit. Almost all models have a 0 or 3 in this spot.
0 – means that the watch is not COSC certified
3 – means it is COSC certified
1, 4, 6, and 8 have been used on very specific models that use novel movements that are rarely seen, and since 2000, all Breitling watches are COSC certified. In our example of the A10380, this is a model that came after 2000, so it has a 3 in this position to denote it has been COSC certified. With the B01 models, like the AB0127, the movement descriptor overrides this fourth spot, as all B01 movements have always been COSC certified.
The last two numbers are for the specific model and have no discernable pattern. The A17316 is a SuperOcean and all model numbers ending in 16 will also be a similar SuperOcean, but could have a different dial color or layout, or even a different case and bezel material. Where an A17367 is also a steel B17 COSC-certified SuperOcean, it is larger than the model 16, so it has a different number with the model 67.
This guide should help you along your Breitling collecting journey. To find the perfect Breitling for yourself, browse our full selection at Crown and Caliber.