Who is Breitling?

The watch brands that have achieved a true place in history are those that have produced watches that are capable of more than simply keeping regular time. Breitling has earned its status as the watch for pilots...read on to find out why!

The Breitling brand has been producing stunning timepieces for over 130 years, and is responsible for some of the most precise timing devices ever created. In his workshop in the Jura mountains, Léon Breitling focused on making very intricate, complex watches that pushed the boundaries of timekeeping precision. Within ten years of the Breitling company’s inception, Léon’s success necessitated a move to larger premises, resulting in a transfer to a factory in 1892.

What is the heritage of Breitling?

Léon Breitling continued to make mens watches and chronographs until his death in 1914. He left the business to his son, Gaston, who continued the work of his late father – although his time at the helm was tragically short. Gaston developed and produced the Breitling chronograph, which was popular among the military police forces during World War I. Gaston’s death, shortly after the Armistice, rendered the Breitling brand leaderless; it was a long, lost five years before Gaston’s son, Willy, stepped into the leadership role.

Willy was able to pick up where both his father grandfather had left off. Taking a fresh approach regarding the professions that could make use of the watches, Willy secured a contract to provide Breitling watches to the British Air Ministry. The Breitling watches featured several timing conversion rulers that made them invaluable to pilots, who needed to generate in-flight calculations for distance, speed, and fuel. The development of the slide rule bezel made Breitling watches not only instantly recognisable, but endlessly practical.

How did Breitling start to develop?

Willy’s move into aviation proved to be inspiring, with Breitling watches becoming the must-have timepiece of the skies. With a starring role on the wrists of the British Royal Air Force, the Breitling brand began to be adopted by commercial pilots too. However, Breitling’s reach didn’t stop there! Working with Lt. Commander Scott Carpenter on the Mercury-Atlas 7 mission, Breitling adapted the Breitling Navitimer to replace the standard twelve-hour clock with a twenty-four-hour one. This gave more meaning to time, as in space, the normal Circadian rhythm is null void.

Breitling and Aviation

Upon the introduction of the Breitling Chronomat in 1969, it seemed the brand’s future success was secured. Although Breitling had developed the world’s first self-winding chronograph in the Chronomat, the emergence of quartz movements damaged Breitling’s star. By 1979, Willy Breitling had been forced to close the company.

Enter Ernest Schneider, a pilot turned watchmaker, who succeeded where Willy Breitling had failed. Schneider was able to harness quartz technology, developing watches featuring a traditional handset alongside digital displays. This made the Breitling an easy choice for aviators once again. Models including the Breitling Jupiter, Breitling Pluton Breitling Mars were developed through consultation with aviation professionals pilots – leading the way for the subsequent Breitling B-1, Breitling Aerospace and Breitling Emergency.

Breitling at Suttons & Robertsons Jewellers 

Here at S&R London Jewellers, we have a great selection of pre-owned Breitling watches for you to choose from. Browse online today or feel free to visit us in our London store to view your options in person. S&R are also renowned for their collection of pre-owned watches from world-leading, luxury brands such as Rolex, Breitling, Cartier, TUDOR, OMEGA, TAG Heuer, Gucci, Bvlgari and more. Discover all pre-owned designer, luxury and vintage watches at S&R London Jewellers here.

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March 02, 2020