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Breitling : History brand

Breitling, tools for professionals since 1884


Breitling is the specialist in technical and professional watches. Yet, as the brand itself proclaims, “you don’t become the official partner of aviation by chance”. No, they earned this distinction after 130 years of experiences, research and hard work, after 130 years of continuous advance. Today, Breitling is a reference worldwide, known for its reliable, robust high-precision instruments.

The saga of an unparalleled watch manufacturer.


The story of a manufacturer and its timekeeper

In 1884, Léon Breitling founded his workshop in the Swiss Jura, with one aim in mind: to build the finest chronographs and meters.

In 1892, Breitling set up shop at Chaux-de-Fond, on rue Montbrillant, and the company took the name of Montbrillant Watch Manufactury. In 1914, Léon Breitling died and his son, Gaston, took over the business. Just one year later, he engineered Breitling’s first chronograph wristwatch.

In 1927, Willy Breitling stepped in for Gaston, and the brand contributed to the advent of the first flight instruments. Gradually building its reputation for robustness, performance and the reliability of its parts, Breitling became a true reference. Breitling’s modern face was permanently etched on the high-end watchmaking scene when the company invented the second independent reset push piece, a decisive breakthrough in the field.  

In 1936, the brand became the official supplier of the Royal Air Force, providing fighter planes with on-board chronographs during World War Two. A few years later, the United States of America also chose Breitling as its official supplier.

In 1942, Breitling launched the Chronomat, the first chronograph watch featuring a circular slide-rule. A huge success, demand for the product soared and the Chronomat made a permanent mark on history. Ten years later, another timekeeper, the Navitimer - now also mythical in its own right - was developed in partnership with the Association of Pilots and Airplane Owners.  Some 60 years after its creation, this watch still enjoys cult status among watch and aeronautics enthusiasts. The model has much to boast about: in addition to pushing the limits from a technical standpoint, the Navitimer was worn by Scott Carpenter during his space mission on board the Aurora 7 capsule. 

During these glorious years, Breitling continued to grow and equip more and more aircraft manufacturers and airlines, and earned itself the prized distinction of “official supplier to the world aviation market”.


In 1979, with the death of Willy Breitling, a new chapter in Breitling watchmaking history began. After having reached its pinnacle in previous years, the company was bought by Ernest Schneider, who shifted the firm’s focus towards electronic innovations without compromising on the brand’s roots and the secret to its success: mechanical chronographs. As a result, the Chronomat was reissued in 1984, developed this time in close collaboration with the Frecce Tricolori, the official acrobatic demonstration squadron of the Italian Air Force.

In 1995 came the Emergency watch, equipped with a unique system featuring a distress transmitter that could send out a call for help on the aviation frequency. In 1998, Brietling’s most complete multi-function chronograph, the B-1 watch, was released. In 2002, after having all of its quartz and mechanical chronograph models certified to COSC (Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres) standards, the company launched a new production unit, Breitling Chronométrie, for the manufacture of timepiece movements. In 2009, Breitling joined the elite circle of manufacturers that have their own mechanical chronograph movement, namely with the Chronomat B-01 watch.


The Breitling world

Aviation is Breitling’s DNA, its very essence. Ever faithful to its origins, the company invests in sports and aerial events. Breitling namely sponsors the Jet Team, the world’s only civil acrobatic demonstration squadron that flies jets. The watchmaker is also behind the Breitling WingWalkers., a team of stuntmen who perform on the wings of Boeing Stearman biplanes at more than 185 kilometers an hour. As well, the watchmaker organizes the Reno Races, flies the Breitling Constellation and Breitling Orbiter, and sponsors the JetMan on his perilous, awe-inspiring adventures.  

Another major partnership is in Breitling’s genes, one that has given rise to a unique mindset and to a collection of beautiful watches. The Breitling for Bentley collection is the fruit of a shared love of high-performance engineering. In ten years, these two big names with “a winged B” have eloquently revealed to the world a range of exceptional models such as the Bentley Motors, the Bentley Supersport, the Bentley GT Racing and the Bentley Flying B, to name but a few.

Today, Breitling is one of the most coveted watch brands anywhere, thanks to its illustrious past and innovative spirit that has managed to distinguish itself. The manufacturer has successfully continued to develop superb timepieces whose precision and performance are the envy of the entire world.


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