If you think of Breitling, you almost automatically think of the Navitimer. And no wonder, the Breitling Navitimer unites everything the brand stands for: precise technical timepieces – more precisely chronographs. The history of Breitling began in 1884 with chronographs, when founding father, Leon Breitling (1860-1914) set up his own business in a clock studio in the Swiss law town of Saint-Imier. Separate pushers for a start and stop as well as the zeroing as we are used to it today, are based initially on a Breitling development. To date, Breitling is one of the most popular sports watch brands in the world.
In the spring of 2017, the former family business caused a stir. The Schneider family, which has been the owner of Breitling since 1979, has primarily sold the company to the investment company CVC Capital Partners. Also, former IWC CEO Georges Kern joined Breitling mid-year as a shareholder and new CEO.
Fact #1 about Breitling: The three most important models
The Navitimer is the great Breitling icon and is one of the most essential watch classics. Already at its introduction in 1952, the men’s watch had the widely recognizable knurled rotating bezel with slide rule function that pilots used as a navigation aid. By the way, the famous Navitimer “Nawitaimer” is pronounced and not “Näiwitaimer”. Because the Breitling Navitimer has nothing to do with the Navy; the first part of the word derives from the term “navigation”.
In 2018 Breitling fundamentally revised the Navitimer collection. It is now divided into Navitimer 1 and Navitimer 8. The Navitimer 1 chronograph with manufacturing caliber continues the design of the original model. But there is also a cheaper alternative with the Eta-Valjoux 7750 and a simple three-hand watch.
All three watches share the famous slide rule bezel – and they are missing the new Navitimer 8 collection. Here too, there is a chronograph with a manufacture caliber or an Eta movement as well as a simple three-hand watch.
Breitling incorporates the world time function without chronograph function into the collection with the Navitimer 8 Unitime. Also, a model with the date and weekday display is available as Navitimer 8.
Two other vital models for Breitling are the Chronomat and the Superocean. In 1941, Breitling launched the first Chronomat. Over the decades, Breitling changed the appearance of the Chronometer again and again. In 1984 the Chronomat received the famous lunette riders.
The up to 20 bar waterproof model Superocean shows that Breitling can not only air, but also water. The Superocean was first launched in 1957 and celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2017. For the Superocean Héritage II received some improvements and changes in their equipment. The steel bezel is now equipped with a rotating ring made of shock and scratch resistant high-tech ceramic, which matches the dial color. On the latter, the original logo of Superocean is applied.
Fact #2 about Breitling: Quartz watches
Breitling also builds quartz watches. Without exception, the brand certifies all movements (mechanics and quartz) as official chronometers by the independent Swiss testing center COSC. The Breitling quartz watches also include the well-known emergency clock, which is equipped with two high-frequency emergency call transmitters. Thus, the Breitling Emergency has already saved the lives of more than 20 people. But quartz movements are also used in other collections such as the Colt aviator watches.
Fact #3 about Breitling: The logo
It was not until the sale of Breitling in 1979 to Ernest Schneider that the brand received its logo, which is so well-known today: the winged B with the stylized anchor symbolized Breitling’s affinity for aviation and diving. Formerly only a simple “B” and the company logo on the dials. And with the launch of the Navitimer, the brand’s initial was first combined with the AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) mark. In 2018, the brand returned to the simple “B” with the company logo on the dial. In the Superocean, the Avenger and the Professional Collection, the winged logo sits on the dial.
In 2003, Breitling started a cooperation with the British luxury carmaker Bentley. The corresponding models from the Premier Collection feature the Breitling logo on the dial, while the Bentley logo is engraved on the case’s edge.
Fact #4 about Breitling: Elegant watches
With the launch of the new Premier Collection, Breitling will be even more elegant. What started with the Navitimer 8 collection is further enhanced by the new Premier models. The new Premier line – Breitling used the model name for some watches as early as the 1940s – consists of five clearly designed models: the Premier B01 Chronograph 42 with the B01 caliber developed by Breitling; this is also found in the Premier B01 Chronograph 42 Bentley British Racing Green. The Premier Chronograph 42 is powered by the automatic Caliber Eta-Valjoux 7750, the Premier Automatic Day & Date 40 has a Sellita movement and the Premier Automatic 40 comes with an ETA caliber.
Fact #5 about Breitling: The manufactory
Since 2009, Breitling manufactory and produces its chronograph works in the Breitling chronometry in La Chaux-de-Fonds. The first own movement, the Breitling caliber B01, was of course used in the Navitimer. Equipped with ratchet wheel, vertical clutch, instant jumping date and a gear duration of over 70 hours. In addition, the movement – like all Breitling calibers – has a chronometer certificate from COSC. Since then, some modifications of the movement have been developed so that the manufactory chronograph now also with world time function (caliber B05), a second time zone (caliber B04), as a three-hand manual winding version (caliber B02) or brand new since 2019 in a chronograph hand wind version in the Navitimer Ref. 806 Re-Edition (caliber B09).