The History of Breitling: A Closer Look at the Luxury Watchmaker

There are numerous brands that dominate the luxury watch market, with tons of history and heritage that consumers may not be aware of. A perfect example of such a brand is Breitling. The luxury watchmaker has been in the industry for more than 130 years and has been responsible for manufacturing some of the most precise chronometers in existence.

In this article we’ll discuss some of Breitling’s biggest achievements throughout history and why they have been pioneers as a luxury watchmaker.

The Start of it All

In 1882, the world was in a transitional period; the industrial revolution had done its worst and things were starting to feel more modern. With sport and science progressing drastically, precision timing methods were necessary. Léon Breitling took this opportunity to create watches of superior accuracy, establishing the brand we know today in 1884.

The company has always been innovative and not one to stand still. They released the world’s first two-pusher chronograph wristwatch in 1941, called the Chronomat. While it sported a chunky design, the model was the first wristwatch to feature a circular slide rule calculator and was a big inspiration for the eventual release of the Navitimer.

Luxury Watchmaker

Connections With Aviation

Before the age of electronic advancements and technology, pilots had to rely on their trusty timepieces to measure certain parameters. Breitling first made headlines in the aviation industry, crafting aeronautical timing instruments for pilots during the Second World War.

Probably the most famous timepiece produced by the brand is the Navitimer, a model tied in with the debut of the iconic double-wing symbol. This was in reference to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). While the two entities didn’t have a formal agreement, Breitling wanted people to know that pilots were are the forefront of their design.

With flying becoming very popular in 1952, the brand released a model that they knew pilots would instantly be attracted to. The Navitimer was a high-quality piece of technology for its time, featuring a complex set of functions and a distinctive design – which hasn’t changed a lot since its first incarnation. In fact, these Breitling watches are still available in a variety of styles to this day.

Chronometer Movements

Prior to 2009, Breitling used to source its calibres from other brands. Now, the brand produces its own in-house movement called the B01. However, Breitling has always made sure that every one of its watches is COSC certified, which means they are both precise and accurate.

The brand has two noteworthy collaborations when referring to calibres. The most significant one being the 1969 partnership with TAG Heuer, which led to the creation of the first-ever automatic chronograph movement, the Calibre 11. This used a modular mechanism and was a variation of Breitling’s Navitimer.

The second collaboration was between Breitling and TUDOR. Breitling offered the company its innovative B01 chronograph movement in exchange for TUDOR’s in-house MT5612. This partnership has substantially benefitted both brands.