How It’s Made – What makes Breitling watches so expensive?50:08

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Published on July 13, 2016

Breitling SA (German pronunciation: [braɪtliŋ]) is a Swiss watchmaker based in Grenchen, Switzerland. Breitling designs, engineers, manufactures and distributes chronometer watches. Breitling is a privately owned company founded in 1884 in Grenchen, Canton of Solothurn, Switzerland. Breitling is known for precision-made chronometers useful to aviators.

Breitling SA was founded in Saint-Imier, Bernese Jura by Léon Breitling in 1884.

Breitling watches are made in Switzerland using Swiss components. Breitling makes two movements: the calibre B01 and calibre B04, a B01 with an added GMT module. ETA and Valjoux are the primary suppliers of ébauches used in certain Breitling watches. The ébauches are completed in the Breitling Chronometrie Workshops before undergoing COSC (Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres) certification.

In 2009 Breitling developed the B01, a mechanical chronograph movement, used in the Breitling Chronomat 01, the first watch produced entirely by Breitling. The Chronomat has ever since used a Breitling movement with the latest addition (2012) to the range being the Chronomat GMT Limited, a limited edition watch; and the Breitling Chronomat 44 GMT, both with the B04 movement.

Products[edit]
The company fits certified chronometers in all models.  Watches are usually marketed towards either diving (SuperOcean) or aviation (Navitimer). Aviation models such as the Navitimer offer aviation functions largely as complications, since their function in aviation has largely been replaced by modern electronic instruments. The styling of Breitling watches is characterized by polished cases, bracelets and large watch faces which are designed to improve readability. Many models have an automatic winding mechanism that is purely mechanical (i.e. using no electronic components) and frequently have complications.

Breitling Navitimer wristwatch with circular slide rule.
In the 1940s, Breitling added a circular slide rule to the bezel of their chronograph models for use by aircraft pilots. This became the famous Navitimer model. During the 1950s and 1960s, a version of the Navitimer was offered by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association with the AOPA logo on the dial.

In 1961, Scott Carpenter, one of the original astronauts in the Mercury space program, approached Breitling with idea of incorporating a 24-hour dial instead of the normal 12-hour dial. This was needed because of the lack of day and night during space travel. Breitling complied, and produced the 24-hour Navitimer which Carpenter wore on his 1962 space flight. Breitling then proceeded to produce the 24-hour version as the so-called Cosmonaute Navitimer – under both Breitling and AOPA logos.

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