The History of Breitling, a Watch in the Sky

The History of Breitling, a Watch in the Sky



Not long ago, wristwatches were given as gifts to celebrate getting a new job, and they were one of the items that symbolized "adulthood." The luxury of luxury brand watches is of course attractive, but perhaps what attracts people more than anything else is the complex mechanism that was created by bringing together the wisdom and ideas of many people. A wristwatch is a machine that can be worn every day.


When did wristwatches first appear?


In the past, pocket watches were the mainstream "portable watches" that people carried around with them. It is said that wristwatches began to become more common in the second half of the 19th century. It is said that the world's first wristwatch was created when Swiss watch merchants Jaquet-Droz & Le Chopp began selling small pocket watches attached to leather bands.


Also, initially, watches were treated as a type of women's accessory, and high levels of precision were not required.


It can be said that the development of wristwatches was largely influenced by war and the military. Pocket watches, which were mainstream at the time, had to be taken out of a pocket every time, so they lacked agility and speed. This hassle of having to take them out was fatal for the military, so the shift in demand from pocket watches to wristwatches was inevitable in history.


There is a record that in 1879, the German Emperor Wilhelm I ordered 2,000 wristwatches made for the German Navy. There are also images of soldiers wearing what appear to be wristwatches in old military photographs.


By the way, it is said that Omega was the first manufacturer of wristwatches for the general public. After that, in 1906, Cartier released the Santos, which became a huge hit among men at the time.


Breitling, the subject of this article, is a watch manufacturer with close ties to the military.

Here we will explore Breitling's long history, look at its designs and current activities, and convey the company's spirit.



Breitling History

The Beginnings <br>Breitling is a watch manufacturer founded by Leon Breitling in 1884.

The first products made by Breitling in the Swiss mountain village of Saint-Imier were precision instruments such as pocket watches and cockpit instruments for pilots.
( Incidentally, Saint-Imier is famous as the birthplace of long-established watch makers such as TAG Heuer and Longines. )


Breitling expanded steadily and eventually moved its factory to La Chaux-de-Fonds, the heart of the Swiss watch industry.

World War I broke out in 1914. Around that time, Gaston Breitling, who had taken over the family business from his father, developed the 30-Minute Timer in 1915. This was a wristwatch-type chronograph equipped with a 30-minute counter.

Connection with the sky

In 1923, the company invented the world's first chronograph push button, bringing a revolution to the watch industry.

In an era of remarkable global development, Breitling focused on aviation, and as a company policy, they actively developed watches specifically for aviation.

Today, Breitling can be seen at air shows and air sports venues, and its connection to the aviation industry has continued since Gaston first developed friendships with pilots during his development.


Willy Breitling, who took over from Gaston, developed a second push button dedicated to resetting in 1934. After improvements and innovations to the buttons at Breitling, it became possible to measure short periods of time continuously. It is no exaggeration to say that this was the moment when the form of the chronograph as we know it today was perfected.


In the 1920s the company gained a reputation as a manufacturer of aviation watches.
In 1936, the Royal Air Force officially adopted Breitling watches. Then, in 1942, as World War II was reaching its climax, Breitling released the Chronomat, the world's first chronograph with a rotating slide rule. After that, the US military also partnered with Breitling, and the company established a solid position as an official supplier to military forces and companies around the world.

Breitling as Cockpit Clockmaker

In 1952, Breitling created the Navitimer , a chronograph equipped with an aviation circular slide rule. With this launch, Breitling began supplying cockpit clocks to major airlines around the world.


After the end of World War II, the world's attention shifted from Earth to space. Breitling was quick to recognize this trend and continued to develop its own unique products.

Breitling, like other long-established watch manufacturers, was hit hard by the Quartz Crisis and was forced to close its factories. The person who saved the company from this crisis was Ernest Schneider, a pilot and electronics engineer with a thorough knowledge of watch technology. He took over the entire brand from Willy. He then began developing the Chronomat, which Breitling developed and became world famous for. Schneider successfully revived the Chronomat with the cooperation of the pilots of the Italian Air Force's acrobatic team, the Firecze Tricolori.


In this way, it can be said that Breitling is a brand that continues to innovate without stopping as the times change.



The Return of the Chronomat

 The original Chronomat was introduced around 1942.

This was just when the aviation industry was starting to flourish. Breitling began to focus on developing watches for aviation, and produced the world's first pilot's chronograph equipped with a rotating slide rule. This innovation blew a new wind into the watch industry, and a new genre of watch was born : the aviation chronograph .

After a while, production of the original Chronomat was discontinued, but its spirit continued to live on in Breitling's designs as aviation chronographs, and the Chronomat remains a familiar part of Breitling's identity to this day.


The Chronomat once again attracted attention in 1979.

When quartz watches first started appearing, the long-established mechanical watch makers based in Switzerland were hit hard. Of course, Breitling was no exception. The company was led by Wally Breitling, the third generation of the company, at that time. To revive the damaged Breitling, Wally entrusted the company to Schneider, who was both an engineer and a pilot. The project that Schneider undertook was the revival of the Chronomat.

He participated in a competition to decide the official chronograph of the Frecce Tricolori. To achieve this, he took two measures: to revive the name Chronomat, which had been loved by people for many years, and to develop a completely new mechanical Chronomat from scratch. Schneider's brilliant success brought attention to mechanical watches again. Breitling's achievement was a very important event in the history of mechanical watches.


Schneider poured his heart and soul into this project, incorporating a great deal of input from pilots, and the resurrected Chronomat was named Chronomat to honor the brand's spirit of innovation.



Famous people who loved Breitling


Scott Carpenter

American astronaut.

He was one of the first American astronauts selected for Project Mercury in 1959. He wore a Breitling Cosmonaut and orbited the Earth three times aboard the spacecraft Aurora 7 .



Team Breitling

Breitling continues to actively support aviation events and teams today.

Breitling Jet Team

A team of acrobatic jet pilots.

The largest private company.


Breitling Wingwalkers

This is an acrobatics show in which a female dancer performs various acrobatic routines while attached to the upper wing of a Boeing Stearman biplane.


Breitling Racing Team

This air racing team is participating in the Red Bull Air Race World Series, which has recently become more well-known in Japan. Founded in 2009.

The current pilots are Nigel Lamb and François Loubot.

Breitling is also the Official Timekeeper of the Red Bull Air Race World Series.