Breitling is best known for their pilot's watches - no other watch manufacturer is as intimately tied to aviation as Breitling. They offer watches ranging from mechanical chronographs to high-tech timepieces that connect to smartphones.
- Navitimer: Legendary pilot's watch with computing function
- In-house calibers since 2009, independent manufacturer
- Since 1999 all mechanical movements come with a chronometer certificate
- Large selection of diving watches: Superocean, Avenger II Seawolf
- Professional Emergency features an emergency signal
Supplying the World of Aviation
Breitling is probably the most renowned Swiss manufacturer of pilot's watches; they've enjoyed an excellent reputation in this field for decades. They offer everything from the legendary Navitimer to high-tech watches with quartz movements and functions. Many Breitling timepieces are specially designed to meet the demands of modern aviation, allowing the wearer to calculate flight data or emit an emergency signal. The name Breitling represents top-quality, appealing watches that stand out thanks to their high-quality technology, sturdiness, and design.
However, this doesn't just apply to pilot's watches. Breitling also offers a large selection of underwater watches, and appeals to fans of tool watches with the Superocean and Avenger series. Altogether, Breitling has a dozen different collections, most of which are powered by mechanical movements.
Breitling was founded in 1884 by Léon Breitling, and their status as an independent company separate from a large concern contributes to their positive reputation.
The Royal Air Force became a customer in 1936 and used Breitling clocks for their ships. The US Air Force followed suit and ordered Breitling's Chronomat wristwatches when they premiered in 1942. At the beginning of the 1960s, the manufacturer developed a version of the Navitimer with a 24-hour clock instead of the traditional 12. Astronaut Scott Carpenter wore this watch during his 1962 space flight in order to tell if it was day or night on Earth.
In 1979, Willy Breitling sold the company to the pilot and businessman Ernest Schneider. Breitling remains a family business to this day.
Pilot's watches must be easy to read, reliable, and functional. If you're looking for a watch that embodies these qualities, then you should consider a Breitling. The Navitimer, in particular, is representative of Breitling's top quality timepieces. It's been around for more than 60 years. A stainless steel version costs around 5,000 euros, while the rose gold version starts around 14,000 euros. Vintage Navitimers from the 1960s cost around 4,000 euros and can be identified by the reference number 806. Occasionally, the price for an 806 runs between 6,000 and 7,000 euros. The Navitimer makes a calculator obsolete for pilots; it's basically a calculator in the form of a watch. If you prefer a pilot's chronograph with fewer indices and numbers on the dial, though, then the Chronomat collection might be a good choice. This collection features watches that are more waterproof - in the case of the Chronomat 44 Airborne, up to 500 m (50 bar).
Breitling isn't just limited to the sky, though - they also have underwater series. The Superocean line starts around 2,000 euros for a new watch. It's a good alternative to the Rolex Submariner
, as is the Avenger II Seawolf. New, one costs around 2,500 euros. If you're searching for a sturdy, capable diving watch, you've found it in the Avenger II Seawolf: It can dive down to depths of 3,000 m (300 bar) without a problem.
The Transocean is a watch to consider if you're more attracted to a classic-elegant Breitling. For new rose gold Transocean chronographs, you should be prepared to spend around 14,000 euros. The simpler stainless steel version with a moon phase complication, the Transocean Chronograph 1461, is available new for 6,500 euros.
Are you more of an adventurous type, known to wander off alone into the wilderness? The Professional Emergency is more than just a watch; it can also help save you in life-threatening situations. The integrated emergency distress call transmitter issues alerts to a wide radius on an internationally defined frequency.
- New Navitimer for approx. 5,000 euros
- Early models with reference number 806
- Large vintage selection
- Models from the 1950s and 60s are good investments
Navitimer: A Legendary Pilot's Watch
is usually the first watch that comes to mind when people think of Breitling. This pilot's watch, with its striking black dial, was originally introduced in 1952. Its scales enable a number of useful aviation calculations. For example, one can calculate speed, flight time, climb and sink rates, distance, and fuel consumption using the Navitimer. It's not just a watch, it's a specialized aviation calculator
. Today, modern cockpit instruments can also provide this information, but they can't replace the Navitimer's charm.
The place of this watch within Breitling's product line is revealed by the name of its caliber: the Breitling 01, their first in-house movement. This automatic caliber has a chronograph function and can time periods of up to 12 hours. Its power reserve lasts around 70 hours. The case is available in either 18-karat rose gold or stainless steel. The standard version has a diameter of 43 mm, but it is also available in 46-mm and 48-mm versions. Furthermore, it is available with additional complications, such as a second time zone. The Navitimer is waterproof to 30 m (3 bar). The Montbrilliant is another pilot's watch from Breitling which closely resembles the Navitimer and features a white dial as well as the same 01 caliber.
Breitling Emergency: Saving Lives
An entirely different type of pilot's watch - but no less legendary - is the Emergency from the Professional series. This watch has been helping save lives since 1995 thanks to its built-in distress call transmitter. It transmits a signal to the international frequency 121.5 MHz, which enables search planes to track location in calm seas or flat land from a distance of approximately 170 km (105 mi). In 2003, two British crew members were saved thanks to their watches after crashing their helicopter in Antarctica. The Emergency II, the newest version of the watch available since 2013, can also transmit a distress signal to the 406.04 MHz frequency, which is monitored by satellites.
In addition to the distress signal, the watch features a countdown timer, second time zone, and an alarm function. These functions obviously require energy to operate. Therefore, the Emergency is fitted with a battery lasting for about two and a half years. Its quartz movement, a Breitling 76, compensates for temperature fluctuations, which can cause inaccuracy. The time can be displayed in analog or digital fashion. The case is made of black titanium and has a large diameter of 51 mm and a thickness of 21.6 mm. Without its band, the Emergency weighs 144 g.
Diving to 3000 m with Breitling
The Superocean is designed for deep ocean use. It's a classic diving watch with all the necessary features: waterproofness up to 20 bar (200 m)
, a unidirectional bezel to keep track of dive time, luminous hands, and a fluorescent zero mark on its bezel. The watch features a screw-down crown as well, which is protected from damage by a crown guard. The smallest version of the Superocean features a 36-mm stainless steel case, while two larger versions measure in at 42-mm and 44-mm diameters. Other versions of the watch can go to even deeper depths: The Superocean II 42 is waterproof to 50 bar (500 m) and is comparable to the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean
. Both diving watches are perfectly suited for deep diving. Even more sturdy is the Superocean Chronograph M2000, which can dive down to 2000 m. The watch is 46 mm in diameter and powered by a quartz movement. Watches in the Superocean collection usually use automatic calibers.
These models are not, however, the only Breitling watches meant for extreme depths. The Avenger II Seawolf can withstand pressure to 300 bar (3000 m), for example, and is powered by the automatic caliber Breitling 17.
The watches in the Superocean Heritage series are modeled after timepieces from the first era of diving watches in the 1950s. With waterproofness of 20 bar (200 m), the Superocean Heritage lands in the usual range of diving watches for recreational divers. Its bezel is available in black, blue, or green, as well as rose gold.
Chronomat: Measuring Time and Speed
The Chronomat's tachymetric scale enables the wearer to measure speed. The scale is located on the rehaut, which allows the watch to also have a unidirectional bezel. As part of its chronograph function, the watch has 30-minute totalizer and 12-hour totalizer subdials as well as a large seconds hand. These features allow the wearer to time periods up to 12 hours. The sportiest version of the Chronomat is the 44 Raven. Its dial and case are deep black, while the rehaut, small hands, and the numerals on the bezel add contrast in orange. The Chronomat 44 Raven is an expressive exception among Breitling's offering of mostly tool watches.
It is available with a second time zone as well, and thanks to its tachymetric scale and stopwatch function, the watch is a perfect alternative to the Rolex Daytona
or the Omega Speedmaster.
Simple or Complicated, but Always Elegant: The Transocean
Parallels also exist between Breitling timepieces and the watches in Omega's more classic collections. Breitling's Transocean is comparable to Omega's De Ville
. This collection contains simple three-hand watches with day and date displays as well as pieces of watchmaking art, such as the Transocean Chronograph 1461. This watch's mechanical movement is comprised of 450 individual pieces
and is so accurate that its date only has to be corrected every 1,461 days at the leap year.
Exospace B55: The Rechargeable Bluetooth Smartwatch
While the Transocean Chronograph 1461 is bound to traditional craftsmanship, the Exospace B55 from the Professional series represents the modern side of the Breitling spectrum. This watch can connect to smartphones via Bluetooth and is packed full of functions: an alarm with up to seven different individual settings, UTC time, a countdown timer, and a chronograph. The quartz movement B55 ticks away inside the watch and runs 10 times more precisely than the average quartz movement. A special miniature rechargeable battery powers the Exospace B55. Price wise, the Exospace B55 is around 6,500 euros.
Breitling's Acrobatic Team
Breitling's commitment to aviation expresses itself in many different ways. They have their own jet team, the Breitling Jet Team. They are the largest privately-owned aerobatic display team and fly seven Czech Aero L-39 Albatros jets. In addition, they support the Wingwalkers, who perform on the wings of biplanes. Breitling also sponsors the survival of the last flight-capable Lockheed Super Constellation in Europe. The propeller plane with four engines is lovingly nicknamed Super Connie. These planes formed the backbone of modern long-haul passenger flights during the 1950s. The Breitling Super Constellation L-1049A (HB-RSC) is stationed in Switzerland.
Breitling is most comparable to Omega, but if your budget is a bit smaller, then Fortis
are also good alternatives.