The Breitling brand is no stranger to challenge. Perhaps this is why the Swiss-founded watchmaker has retained its spark since the 1880s. When Leon Breitling set out to create iconic timepieces, he intended to use the most cutting-edge technology of the era. By the 20th century, he had introduced a pulse meter, a chronograph with two-fifths of a second accuracy, a movement with a power reserve of eight days, and a pocket-watch tachymeter for measuring speed. His watches were made for athletes, outdoor adventurers, physicians, and even police officers!
Gaston Breitling, Leon’s son, soon followed by his grandson, Willy, ushered the brand into a new era that left behind pocket watches and introduced wristwatches. Simultaneously, in the 1930s and ‘40s, aircraft technology became increasingly important for militaristic pursuits. This family business took chronographs to the skies and into the cockpit, and Breitling won the deal of the century when they became chronograph suppliers for the British Royal Air Force. Aviation-inspired wristwatches followed, with bells and whistles like tachymeters, telemeters, pulsometers, and calculation capabilities. Premier, Duograph, and Datora watch models proved that Breitling watches were not just mechanically powerful, but elegant and fashionable for discerning clientele. The Premier collection, in particular, has stood the test of time as one of Breitling’s signature styles today, almost 100 years later.
When leisure travel took off in popularity in the 1950s, Willy Breitling was right there to design watch models for elite swimmers and casual beach-goers alike with a watch model called the SuperOcean. Always informed by the era’s most popular mode of exploration, Breitling produced watches with capabilities meant for space. The Breitling Navitimer orbited the earth, inspiring the Cosmonaute style design that is still favored today. The unique Top Time model was made in the spirit of the ‘60s, and it is still beloved today for its colorful dial varieties. When quartz was introduced to the timepiece market, Breitling managed not to be lured in by the ultra-thin watch profiles this technical innovation allowed for. Instead, Breitling stuck to their roots and produced the sturdy chronographic Chronomat, which was a great success globally for its substantial proportions.
In 2001, Breitling began to manufacture its movements to maintain technological independence, increasing the brand’s elite stature and paying off with a timepiece called the Caliber 10, produced at the Breitling Chronometrie. It’s plain to see that throughout history, and today, Breitling watches marry performance and sport with beautiful design. Breitling is also committed to incorporating sustainability into the brand. From weaving nylon straps from oceanic waste to engineering a recycled-material watch box that reduces emissions, Breitling is on a mission to improve the production process and the product’s environmental impact.
Breitling’s partnerships with leading humans, sports teams, and brands around the world illustrate the company’s inclusive and honest appeal. From ballerina Misty Copeland to pro soccer player Erling Haaland, to actress Charlize Theron, to working with Mustang, the IRONMAN triathlon, and SWISS International Air Lines, Breitling’s network of ambassadors is impressive. Anyone lucky enough to own a Breitling watch gets to partake in this designer’s truly extraordinary history, and their story becomes part of it, each day.