For more than 100 years, Breitling watches have set new standards for performance and design in the luxury market.
Perhaps best known for its selection of impeccable aviation and dive watches, Navitimer and SuperOcean, respectively, Breitling’s pioneering spirit and dedication to quality have earned the brand a place in history
The iconic choice of militaries, pilots, and astronauts, their pieces are ideal for any watch enthusiast’s collection and for those who wish to have a timepiece that can be passed to future generations.
Founded in 1884, by Leon Breitling, the company’s first aim was to perfect chronographs.
At the time, these were made primarily for professional uses, as the extensive process of piecing together a mechanical timepiece by hand was quite laborious and intensive.
Breitling set his sights on crafting pieces that not only performed better than others, but were sleeker and simpler in design, making them easier to build, maintain, and repair.
Some of the first pieces were accurate within two-fifths of a second and designed for physicians to measure pulse rates.
As the automotive industry began to take off, it was the company’s Vitesse timer which allowed drivers to calculate their rate of speed, and ultimately the local police as well.
Leon’s son Gaston took over the company in 1914.
Gaston was every bit enamored with pioneering in the chronograph industry as his father was.
He crafted some of the first-ever wrist chronographs with separate push-pieces above the crown, and then later patented a pocket watch design with two push pieces, enabling people to measure sequential times—another global first.
Chances are, however, if you have a Breitling watch from this era through the 1920s, it will not bear the company name.
Most simply have the buyer’s name or a logo related to the model.
Willy Breitling, Gaston’s son, created the image the company is known for today.
He adapted wrist chronographs to incorporate two pushers, then moved into aviation models.
Soon, Navitimer Breitling watches were being used by militaries and airlines across the globe.
With this market dominated, Willy began crafting SuperOcean watches, able to handle depths of up to 200 meters.
He went on to perfect anti-magnetism and shockproof technology as well. In 1961, Scott Carpenter of the Mercury Space Program requested that the company adapt the Navitimer to a 24-hour model, suitable for space travel.
Indeed, it was a Cosmonaute Navitimer upon his wrist during his historic 1962 flight, making it the first Swiss wristwatch to go into orbit.
Naturally, when Thunderball released in 1965, it was a Breitling Top Time Q provided James Bond with.
What Makes Breitling Watches Distinct
Although Breitling is now owned by global private equity firm CVC Capital Partners, the heritage of crafting incredibly precise, durable, and highly-aesthetic masterpieces continues.
Only 5% of Swiss-made watches are chronometer certified, and Breitling happens to use certified chronometers every time.
This means they go through a rigorous process with the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) which checks their accuracy under numerous demanding conditions and pieces must maintain a 99.99% degree of accuracy to pass.
In addition to this, the manufacturing process involves both machining and manual processes, ensuring each piece is crafted with the utmost care.
The company uses materials like grade 2 titanium and 316L antimagnetic stainless-steel alloy for their cases, and their waterproofing process for dive watches is intense.
They test their pieces at pressures which sometimes exceed 4,000 meters and run condensation tests as well.
Additional measures are taken to ensure pieces are shockproof and anti-magnetic, ensuring their timepieces will perform well under any circumstance and last generations.
Furthermore, their crystals are made from synthetic sapphire; the second-hardest substance after diamonds.
Glareproofing is added to both sides of the crystal, ensuring maximum visibility and strength.
Each component of their timepieces is tested and quality-checked repeatedly.
Breitling watches are unmistakable. Not only is it clear at a single glance that each one is a professional tool due to the clean layout and complications, but the finishing is impeccable, right down to the gold Breitling logo.
Popular Breitling Watches and Pricing
Breitling offers roughly a dozen distinct collections to choose from, with entry points starting under $5,000 and some of the more complicated pieces exceeding $50,000 new.
Navitimer is the brand’s best-known model, used by military and civilian pilots and astronauts.
The Navitimer 1 family offers classic stylings, while the Navitimer 8 family carries the brand’s historic DNA with more modernized looks.
First released in 1957 as a dive watch option for the military and professionals, the iconic timepiece remains in production today.
Like Navitimer, SuperOcean is broken into two families; SuperOcean, which hosts vintage-styled pieces, and SuperOcean Heritage, which includes modern takes on it.
Designed for pilots, pieces in the Emergency line contain radio transmitters powerful enough for aircraft-aided search and rescue missions to pick up the signal.
Earlier models were released for both civil and military use. In 2013, Breitling released a new model, Emergency II, which leverages a higher frequency that is monitored by satellites.
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