Breitling

'Navitimer: The favourite nav-aid of thousands of AOPA pilots'Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, 1969

Once a manufacturer of aircraft cockpit instruments, Breitling has always had an affinity with the aviation industry and has moved with time and technology to provide pilots with useful equipment ever since. From the slide rule calculator bezel to the emergency distress signal transmitter, Breitling are true aviation pioneers.

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Breitling History

The History of Breitling Watches

Specialising in scientific measurement and timing devices, Léon Breitling opened his workshop in the Jura Mountains of Switzerland in 1884 to make Breitling watches. His creations were intricate and complicated, even by watchmaking standards, and the success of his Breitling chronographs required the company to move to a larger factory in 1892.

In 1914, Léon passed away, and his son, Gaston, inherited the Breitling watches business. He continued to develop a Breitling best seller, the chronograph, which was eagerly adopted by the military and police forces. The development of Breitling watches continued through the First World War until, shortly after, Gaston died. The business was leaderless for five years before Gaston’s son Willy stepped in to assume command of Breitling.

Taking over the opportunities that were left unfinished, he pushed Breitling watches into the aviation industry, and managed to successfully win a contract to provide Breitling watches to the British Air Ministry. The various timing and conversion rulers available on the Breitling watches made them suitable for pilots who needed to make calculations in flight for speed, distance, fuel and such. The invention of the slide rule bezel boosted the practicality even further, and makes navigational Breitling watches instantly recognisable.

This affiliation with aviation became Breitling watches crowning jewel, and before long Breitling watches were being used not only by the Royal Air Force, but by many commercial pilots as well. The popularity of Breitling watches also extended into space, when Lt. Commander Scott Carpenter wore a specially developed Breitling Navitimer on the Mercury Atlas 7 mission. He had commissioned Breitling to make it such that the standard twelve hour clock on the Breitling Navitimer was replaced with a twenty-four hour one; a feature that, given the lack of normal day and night time in space, made the Breitling far more practical.

The Breitling Chronomat was introduced in 1969, which was the world’s first self-winding chronograph, and signalled a height of development for Breitling watches. Unfortunately this wasn’t to last for Breitling. The success of Breitling watches, particularly the mechanical chronographs, was brought to a stop by the introduction of quartz movements in the late seventies, and in 1979, the Breitling company was closed by Willy.

Breitling was then taken over by Ernest Schneider, a pilot himself, who created Breitling watches using the new quartz technology that had stumped Willy. The Breitling Jupiter, Breitling Pluton and Breitling Mars watches incorporated a traditional handset along with digital displays, allowing clear and functional use by the pilots who wore them. The design of these Breitling watches was undertaken under the consultation of aviation professionals, and their success evolved into the modern Breitling B-1, Breitling Aerospace and Breitling Emergency. The Breitling Emergency also featured an antenna for stranded pilots to send a distress call with.

The introduction of Superquartz extended the accuracy of quartz Breitling watches even further, providing ten times the accuracy of a standard Breitling quartz movement. This continuing dedication to provide accurate and usable pilot’s watches has set the Breitling name in stone within the aviation community, and its style and innovation has done the same with the general public. The introduction of Breitling watches first in-house chronograph movement in 2009 confirms that Breitling watches will continue to be popular for a long time to come.

Breitling Series

Breitling Aerospace

Originally part of the Breitling Navitimer range, the Breitling Aerospace was born in 1985. Designed to be a modern... read more

Breitling Airwolf

The Breitling Airwolf moves quartz technology forwards, using a ‘thermoline’ superquartz movement that adjusts its frequency... read more

Breitling Avenger

The extra-rugged, no-nonsense model of the range, the Breitling Avenger is a shock-proof, dive-proof tool for people exploring... read more

Breitling B Series

Any watch that can boast display backlighting that is compatible for use with night vision goggles is a serious piece of kit, and the Breitling... read more

Breitling Bentley

In 2003, two Speed 8 Bentleys took first and second place at the Le Mans 24 hour endurance race, both developed with the help... read more

Breitling Blackbird

Named after the Kelly John-designed mach three stealth aircraft that dominated the cold war, the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, the 1996... read more

Breitling Chronomat

Despite common belief, the Breitling Navitimer was not the first of the Breitling watches to feature the rotating slide rule – the Breitling B Series... read more

Breitling Chronomatic

Famed for its innovation and precision, Breitling broke new ground in 1969 by creating the first self-winding chronograph movement... read more

Breitling Chronospace

As the most recent iteration of Breitling’s pilots watch, the Breitling Chronospace combines all the gadgets of its predecessors, such as... read more

Breitling Cockpit

Through the early to mid 20th century, Breitling was a chief supplier of cockpit instruments for military and commercial aircraft... read more

Breitling Colt

The entry-level Breitling Colt is anything but basic, featuring the same build quality and styling you would expect to see in other Breitling... read more

Breitling Emergency

As a continuing dedication to pilots, Breitling launched the Breitling Emergency as a backup transmitter for downed pilots or lost... read more

Breitling Galactic

As Breitling watches for wearing with a suit, the Breitling Galactic range use sumptuous curves and elegant design to add a spot of dressiness... read more

Breitling Ladies Models

It may seem that most Breitling watches are aimed at men, but Breitling also cater for women who want something with character... read more

Breitling Montbrillant

Its name inspired by Leon Breitling’s La Chaux-de-Fonds based workshop, which was located specifically on Montbrillant Street... read more

Breitling Navitimer

Recommended by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the Breitling Navitimer was the aviators watch to own through the mid 20th century... read more

Breitling Skyracer

The Breitling Skyracer’s unique timing display gives it an unparalleled ability to clearly record time. Two central hands record seconds... read more

Breitling SuperOcean

The Breitling SuperOcean is the diving watch of Breitling’s range, and it is no token model to fill a gap in the market, it is the real deal... read more

Breitling Transocean

The inspiration for the Breitling Transocean originates from the pure and uncluttered forms of the 1950s and 1960s, two decades that can claim some... read more

Breitling Wings

The Breitling Wings collection was the entry level option before the Breitling Colt took over in 2005. The simple, clear dials match the reduced... read more

Breitling Intruder

The Breitling Intruder is the third iteration of the Pluton family, which was introduced in 1980 after Breitling was taken over by the Schneider... read more

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The Watch Magazine

Jetman Performs with the Breitling Jet Team

Jetman Performs with the Breitling Jet Team

Posted 05 Dec 2011

For your viewing pleasure and sheer incredulity, we present a video of a man flying in formation with the Breitling Jet Team. Not impressed? Read it again. A man flying in formation, not a man in a plane, flying in... more

Breitling Navitimer

Breitling Navitimer

Posted 26 Apr 2011

Breitling’s history with the aeronautical industry is based on a relationship built over many years that has led to the creation of watches specifically developed for pilots, by pilots. The trademark of Breitling’s DNA is... more

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