Léon Breitling, who founded the brand in 1884 in the Swiss canton of Jura, dedicated himself to developing chronographs and timers. Little did he know the brand would become world famous for its meticulous instruments, and that Breitling would become synonymous with the world of aviation.
Starting with some major innovation back in 1915, the brand saw the inclusion
of the first independent chronograph pushpiece. Then, in 1923 further developments of this system (separating the stop/start functions from resetting) made it possible to add numerous successive times without turning the hands to zero, a crucial feature for timing of sports, as well as calculating flight times.
In 1934, the brand added a second independent reset pushpiece to its chronograph, an innovation that the competition soon implemented for its own use. And then in 1952, the launch of the Navitimer wrist chronograph (featuring a circular slide rule that performs all navigation-related calculations) secured Breitling’s legendary aviation status as a cult chronograph and the timepiece of choice for pilots and aviation enthusiasts alike. It is still manufactured today — 60 years after its creation — making it the world’s oldest mechanical chronograph still in production.
These 100% Swiss-made watches have seen many important developments, including its first self-winding chronograph movement in 1969, and the relaunch of the now-leading Chronomat model in 1984. More recently, in 2009, the Breitling Caliber 01 was born. This high-performance, self-winding movement was developed and produced by Breitling in its own workshops, and the brand has since developed and manufactured more of its own movements, including features and functions such as the dual time zone Caliber.
The correlation between aviation and Breitling doesn’t end with the advent of new movement developments; rather, the brand has associations with world-class pilots and flying teams. The Breitling Jet Team wears the firm’s colours when showcasing their aerobatics at some of the globe’s top air shows, such as the Reno Air Race.
Breitling’s long-standing relationship with aviation, combined with the robust nature of its timepieces and the rigorous testing they undergo, has ensured its status as an “official supplier to the world of aviation”.
“During the 1950s and 1960s, Breitling played a key role in the boom of commercial aviation, as its onboard chronographs became standard equipment, first on the propeller-driven planes, and later on the jet aircraft of many airplane manufacturers and airline companies,” says the brand.