Luxury Watch History: Breitling Watches
Breitling watches are known as representative of the ultimate in free-spirited, adventurous and luxurious lifestyles. Ever since Leon Breitling founded the company in the Swiss Jura Mountains in 1884 – a year commemorated with a stamp on the back of every watch – Breitling has stood for precision engineering of the highest quality. Every watch is fitted with a chronometer-certified movement, guaranteeing standards across the range.
By the 1930s Breitling was specializing in chronographs made for aircraft cockpits and the devices were used by armed forces during WWII, including the Royal Air Force. In the 1940s a circular slide rule was included on the bezel of watches for use by pilots. This decade saw the introduction of the iconic Navitimer series. In subsequent decades, Brietling Navitimer watches bearing the AOPA logo were offered to members of the Aircraft Owners’ and Pilots’ Association.
Always at the cutting edge of innovation, in 1961 Breitling joined forces with astronaut Scott Carpenter on the development of the 24-hour Navitimer watch for space travel. The 24-hour dial ensured those in space could differentiate between night and day. Photographs can be seen featuring Scott Carpenter wearing his Breitling Cosmonaute Navitimer aboard the Aurora 7 craft in 1962.
Fast-forward to 1984 and Breitling introduced the Chronomat model and later, in 2009, developed the BR01, their own mechanical chronograph used in the model Chronomat 01. This was the first totally in-house Chronomat made by Breitling.
Other innovations from the company include the introduction of the Breitling Emergency version of the Navitimer, which includes an emergency transmitter that broadcasts on the distress frequency. Military versions operate on the military distress frequency and can be picked up by search aircraft at a range of 90 nautical miles, although it is not strong enough to reach satellites. Proof of the effectiveness of the emergency signal came in 2003, when two British pilots were rescued after crashing in Antarctica.
Breitling continues its association with the aviation industry today and also sponsors the fun and dramatically entertaining aspect of high-speed flying skill through its own aerobatics display fleet of jets, the Breitling Jet Team. They also sponsor the Breitling WingWalkers, a UK-based display team of formation wing walkers.
Breitling watches fall into three broad categories: Diving, Aviation and Luxury with the Bentley range. The Navitimer aviation range offers the additional aviation functions as complications, since most mechanical instruments are now replaced by digital electronic instruments.
Precision engineering and use of only the highest-grade materials along with precise laboratory engineering put Breitling watches firmly in the luxury market. It’s not just about price — it’s also about quality, attention to detail, fine styling and an understanding of technology at the highest level. The brand epitomises the lifestyle associated with adventure and risk, exploration and defence and patriotism and an appreciation of living life to the fullest. It’s the brand worn by free spirits and entrepreneurs who seize the moment and demonstrate a willingness to walk on the wild side.
Those who wear, buy or sell Breitling watches understand the sophistication and daring that goes into their technological development. All watch models made since the year 2000 are certified chronometers bearing the all-important COSC certificate.