No other watch manufacturer is as intimately tied to aviation as Breitling. They offer watches ranging from mechanical chronographs to high-tech timepieces that can connect to smartphones.
Breitling has enjoyed an excellent reputation as a pilot's watch manufacturer for decades and has a very close connection to the field of aviation. The company also appeals to fans of technical watches, with models such as the Superocean diving watch. They feature a dozen different series, which are mostly powered by mechanical movements. However, some models require quartz calibers for certain high-tech features.
The Navitimer: A Legendary Pilot's Watch
The Navitimer 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 kerosene 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 for 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 been helping to 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. In 2003, two British crew members were saved by using their watches after crashing their helicopter in Antarctica. The Emergency II, the newest version of the watch and 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.
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.
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 the 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 and 44 mm diameter. 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 are diving watches 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. Normally, watches in the Superocean collection use automatic calibers.
These models are not, however, the only Breitling watches meant for extreme depths. The Avenger II Seawolf can reach up 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 the look of timepieces from the first era of diving watches in the 1950s. With a 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 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 are a contrasting orange. The Chronomat 44 Raven is an expressive exception among Breitling's mostly functional-focused 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 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. The watch's mechanical movement is made up of 450 individual pieces and the date is so accurate that it only has to be corrected every 1,461 days when a leap year occurs.
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. The watch can connect to smartphones via Bluetooth and is packed full with functions: an alarm with up to seven different individual alarms, 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. The watch is more expensive than most Breitling models, coming in at the upper four-digit range.
Air Force Supplier Since 1936
Breitling was founded in 1884 by Léon Breitling, and their status as an independent company not belonging to 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, on the other hand, 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.
Breitling is probably the most renowned Swiss manufacturer of pilot's watches. They offer everything from the historical Navitimer to high-tech watches with quartz movements and functions designed to meet the demands of modern aviation. Furthermore, they represent top-quality, appealing watches thanks to their high-quality technology, sturdiness, and designs. Breitling is comparable to Omega, but if your budget is a bit smaller, then Fortis
are good alternatives.