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About Breitling Watches
Founded in the late 1800s, Breitling has grown to become one of the leading Swiss watch manufacturers of high-end watches. Recognized for its specialization in chronographs, pilot watches, dive watches, and other professional watches, Breitling boasts an impressive collection of famous models including historic favorites like the Navitimer, Chronomat, Avenger, Colt, and Superocean, along with newer models such as Aviator 8, Navitimer 8, and Premier.
Breitling makes both mechanical watches and high-accuracy quartz watches and since 1999, all of their watch movements are certified as chronometers by the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC). In recent years, Breitling has also focused on making many of its movements in-house. Whether for land, sea, or air, Breitling makes top-notch luxury watches that combine style, durability, and technical precision.
History of Breitling
Léon Breitling established his watch workshop in St. Imier, Switzerland in 1884, where he focused primarily on chronographs. In 1889, he obtained a patent for a simplified chronograph pocket watch and by 1892, the workshop had expanded into a new factory in La Chaux-de-Fonds with 60 employees. The next decade was marked by great advances in chronographs and stopwatches, including timers with tachymeter scales to measure speeds of moving cars and pulsometers for doctors to measure pulse rates.
Gaston Breitling took over the family business after his father passed away, and he introduced one of the world’s first chronograph wristwatches, complete with a separate push-piece adjacent to the crown. Following that, Breitling patented a chronograph pocket watch with two pushers where one starts/stops the timer while the other (integrated into the crown) resets it—allowing users to now measure multiple sequential times. Gaston died unexpectedly in 1927 while his son Willy Breitling was still a teenager; however Willy took the reigns of the Breitling brand five years later at the young age of 19.
Under the helm of Willy Breitling, the watch company set its sights on making watches and clocks for pilots and airplanes. In 1934, Breitling was granted a patent for a chronograph pocket watch with two pushers and in 1936, the company designed an aviator chronograph with large and luminous markings on the black dial, along with a practical rotating bezel. In 1938, Willy Breitling created the Huit Aviation Department, which served to create professional, military, and civil timing instruments in the form of chronograph wristwatches and aircraft dashboard clocks. The British Royal Air Force was a customer during WWII, fitting bombers and fighter jets with Breitling dashboard clocks.
The 1940s, 50s, and 60s witnessed the birth of now-famous Breitling tool watch models like the Chronomat scientist’s watch, the Navitimer pilot’s watch, and the Superocean dive watch. Additionally, Breitling was instrumental in the introduction of one of the world’s first automatic chronograph movements in 1969 and housed these movements in the Chrono-Matic collection. Amid the Quartz Crisis in the 1970s, Ernest Schneider purchased the company from ailing Willy Breitling. The Schneider family steered the company through the subsequent decades by producing bigger and somewhat flashier modern watches but with a similar focus on aviation and chronographs. In 2017, Breitling was acquired by CVC Capital Partners and George Kern was installed as CEO.
Under George Kern’s leadership, which continues to this day, Breitling is undergoing some significant changes including a slew of new products (many of which are vintage-inspired and scaled-down), a new marketing plan, and new store designs and distribution strategies. What isn’t new is Breitling’s faithful focus on aviation watches, expert chronographs, and precise chronometers.
How Much Is a Breitling Watch?
|Retail Price (MSRP)
|Steel Navitimer B01 Chronograph 46
|Steel Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43
|Steel Super Chronomat B01 44
|Two-Tone Super Chronomat 44
|Steel Avenger II GMT
|Steel Superocean Automatic 44
|Red Gold Premier Automatic 40
Breitling Pricing Information
Like most luxury watch brands, Breitling watch prices can vary wildly from low four figures to well-into the five figure range depending on the material, size, and complications. However, the core price range of new Breitling watches in steel hover around the $3,300 – $9,000 mark, which lowers to about $2,500 – $6,000 for pre-owned versions. As expected, gold examples have higher retail prices, ranging from $18,500 – $53,560; however prices of precious metal Breitlings drop by about 25-30% in the secondary market, making them excellent value propositions. Vintage Breitling watch prices can start in the low thousands but quickly skyrocket into the tens of thousands for rare or coveted vintage pieces in good condition.
A Luxury Watch for Any Style
Versatility and elegance are synonymous with every Breitling model. No matter what your style Breitling has a wristwatch that will fit the look you desire. References are available in gold, stainless steel, titanium, two-tone steel and gold, carbon, and composite, and also offered with or without diamonds.
Popular Breitling Watch Models
Throughout its history of more than 130 years, Breitling has produced its fair share of notable watch designs. Below you’ll find information about Breitling’s most popular and historically important watch models, as well as some brand new collections set to become modern classics.
Before we can talk about the Breitling Nativimer, we have to talk about the Breitling Chronomat – the source of inspiration for the Navitimer. In 1940, Breitling gained a patent for the Chronomat watch, featuring a rotating slide rule to allow mathematicians and scientists to quickly calculate various measurements and mathematical equations such as conversions from one unit of measurement to another, multiplication, division, and other calculations. The name Chronomat, which was officially introduced in 1941, is a combination of the words “Chronograph” and “Mathematics.” However, it was the Breitling Navitimer that would later make the rotating slide rule famous and the Chronomat ventured down a different path in the 1980s.
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the brand, Breitling released the completely redesigned Chronomat chronograph watch in 1984. Based on a watch design made explicitly for the Italian flying squadron Frecce Tricolori, the modern Chronomat included details like rider tabs on the bezel, a tachymeter scale on the dial, three sub-dials, and an automatic movement—which remain as signature features of the Chronomat today.
As one of Breitling’s best selling models, the company has produced the Chronomat in various materials including steel, solid gold, and two-tone steel and gold, not to mention equipping the chronograph with other complications like GMT, perpetual calendar, moonphase, and so on.
Breitling Navitimer, Navitimer 8, and Aviator 8
In 1952, Breitling introduced the now-iconic Navitimer pilot’s watch, which takes its name from combining the words “Navigation” and “Timer.” The Navitimer featured the circular slide rule introduced in the Chronomat, making it a particularly practical watch for pilots who need to perform calculations like metric to standard conversions, fuel consumption, airspeed, distance, and more. Astronaut Scott Carpenter helped design a special version of the Breitling Navitimer (Cosmonaute) with a 24-hour dial, which he wore during the Mercury-Atlas 7 mission in 1962.
For over six decades, Breitling introduced numerous versions of the Navitimer chronograph in an assortment of materials, in different colorways, and equipped with various complications like GMT, perpetual calendar, and split-seconds chronograph. Regardless of the variations, the Navi always retains its characteristic slide rule—even on the newer non-chronograph models. For a time during the Quartz Crisis of the 70’s, production on the Navitimer was placed on hiatus. Much to everyone’s elation, Breitling re-released the Navitimer in the 90’s, once again becoming Breitling’s most desired watch.
In 2018, Breitling introduced the Navitimer 8 collection (named after the Huit Aviation Department established by Willy Breitling in the 1930s; “huit” is the French word for “eight”). The new collection dropped the packed slide rule for a more streamlined dial design. Therefore, the biggest difference between the Navitimer and the Navitimer 8 is that the former includes the slide rule while the latter does not. However, it is apparent that Breitling is moving away from the controversial “Navitimer 8” name and moving towards the suitable “Aviator 8” name, as many are lamenting that it cannot be a “Navi” without a slide rule. The vintage-inspired pilot watch Navitimer 8/Aviator 8 collection includes chronograph models, world timer models, day/date models, time/date models, and time-only models.
Breitling Superocean and Superocean Heritage
Along with Rolex, Blancpain, and Omega, Breitling also introduced dive watches in the 1950s. The Breitling Superocean made its debut in 1957 with a choice of an automatic time-only model or a manual-wound chronograph version. Both models were water-resistant to 200 meters and featured black dials with luminous details, black rotating timing bezels, and steel mesh bracelets. Breitling continued to evolve the Superocean dive watch model and today’s collection is varied with several sizes, materials, and color options, along with water depth ratings that range from 500 meters to 2,000 meters.
In addition to the modern style Superocean watches, Breitling also makes the Superocean Heritage lineup, which as its name implies, is vintage-inspired in design. The Superocean Heritage collection includes models that take design cues from the very first Superocean models but with larger cases, modern movements, and updated features.&
To complement the company’s range of professional instruments and chronographs, Breitling also debuted the Premier line of elegant and dressier chronographs in steel or solid gold in 1943. While the Breitling Premier models eventually disappeared from the company’s catalog, the collection was revived in 2018. The modern-day Breitling Premier line features chronographs, day-date models, and time-only models, all designed with a touch of mid-century elegance.
Breitling for Bentley
In 2002, Breitling designed the onboard clock for Bentley’s Continental GT and the following year, Breitling created a special-edition “Bentley Le Mans” timepiece to celebrate the carmaker’s win at the 2003 Le Mans. This paved the way for the ‘Breitling for Bentley’ partnership, which is a separate brand of Breitling watches that takes design inspiration from luxurious Bentley cars like bezels featuring the famed honeycomb radiator grill pattern or quilted leather straps mimicking the vehicles’ interior. The Breitling for Bentley watches are of course chronographs, but some also feature additional complications for frequent travelers such as world timer and GMT functionality.
Breitling Squads Brand Ambassadors
Over the years, Breitling has had a roster of celebrity brand ambassadors. In the past, actor and pilot John Travolta and soccer star David Beckham served as official Breitling brand ambassadors. Now, as part of George Kern’s new marketing strategy, Breitling introduced the “Squad” concept, where each Breitling Squad is a three-person group made up of leading figures from the worlds of aviation, exploration, cinema, and sport to represent different lifestyles. The thinking behind the trio (according to George Kern) stems from aviation, where planes fly in squads and formations of three.
Breitling Jet Squad
- Jacques Bothelin
- Paco Wallert
- Christophe Deukeletare
Breitling Cinema Squad
- Brad Pitt
- Charlize Theron
- Adam Driver
Breitling Surf Squad
- Kelly Slater
- Stephanie Gilmore
- Sally Fitzgibbons
Breitling Explorer Squad
- Bertrand Piccard
- Inge Solheim
- David de Rothschild
- Jan Frodeno
- Chris McCormack
- Daniela Ryf
Aside from official ambassadors, Breitling watches have always been popular with the celebrity-set. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld is a well-known fan of Breitling watches, as are Gordon Ramsay, Tom Cruise, Leonardo DiCaprio, Justin Timberlake, Wayne Gretzky, and the late jazz musician Miles Davis.