Breitling is without a doubt one of the most admired and sought-after watch brands for aviation professionals and fantasy fly boys alike. The brand has been making watches for the aviation industry for over a century and its watches have accompanied pilots on numerous groundbreaking flights and voyages.
Leon Breitling began making watches in 1884 from his workshop in the Swiss Jura Mountains, devoting himself to developing chronographs and timers to be used in the world of sports, science and industry. In 1915 Breitling created the first truly independent chronograph push-piece.
By 1923, the chronograph had now been updated by Leon’s son, Gaston, and included a separate stop/start and reset functions which meant that it was now possible to add successive times without having to reset the counter to zero – a function that would prove to be most useful for timing sporting events and calculating flight times.
Building on its reputation for producing sturdy and highly precise timepieces, many of the early aviation pioneers increasingly chose Breitling’s pocket chronographs and then later its wrist watches to accompany them on some of their earliest flights.
By the early 1930’s, Breitling then produced a range of watches that would earn it fame throughout the world by creating on-board chronographs that were to be used in aircraft cockpits. These instruments proved to be indispensable to safe and secure piloting and because of this were used by a number of armed forces around the world, including the RAF which used them during WWII in its famous propeller driven combat aircraft.
After launching its famous Navitimer chronograph wrist watch in 1952, Breitling continued to play an important role in the world of aviation throughout the 1950’s and 60’s, with its on-board chronographs becoming standard equipment on many commercial propeller driven planes and then later on the jet aircraft of many commercial airlines, where it became known as the official supplier to the aviation world. Here are but seven selection from the mighty Breitling range of pilots’ watches.
Ruelle Montbrillant in La Chaux de Fonds housed the Breitling workshops from 1892 to 1979. It was where the first fully fledged Breitling factory specialized in producing some of the world’s first wristwatch chronographs from 1892 to 1979. With the name forever etched into the history of the brand, the Montbrilliant 01 is inspired by some of the brand’s early creations. Endowed with a look inspired by the 1940s and 1950s, and featuring the famous aviation slide rule, this successful association of tradition and innovation is enhanced by a silver dial bearing numerals or hour-markers and hollowed counters. The caseback is adorned with an embossed medallion depicting the historical Montbrillant building. Price: From $4,475
The Super Avenger II is one of the newer chronographs in the Breitling fleet and includes a bold and imposing 48mm steel case which offers water resistant to 300m and is more than sturdy enough to accompany you on the toughest of missions.
The ideal companion for all manner of challenges, the Super Avenger II chronograph combines features screwed-in push-piece guards and a solid screw-lock crown with non-slip grip. The self-winding chronograph movement is chronometer-certified by the COSC, the only industry benchmark in terms of precision and reliability based on an international standard. Price: From $3,875
The 46mm Breitling Transocean Unitime is powered by the in-house Breitling caliber B05 movement. The watch includes a 30 minute and 12 hour chronograph counter and can show the time in all 24 time zones all at the same time. By simply turning the crown forwards or backwards the watch instantly corrects itself to the local time, perfect for those who spend a lot of time traveling. Measuring 46mm in diameter the watch is available in steel or red gold and has a power reserve of 70 hours. Price: From $5,975
Introduced in 1952 and arguably the most sought after watch in the Breitling range. Powered by the Manufacture Breitling Caliber 01, noted for its reliability and performance. This legendary 43mm model is distinguished by its steel case and its black dial with a red seconds hands, silver chronograph counters and applied hour-markers or numerals. It is also available in a red gold version with other dial colors. Its bidirectional ratcheted rotating bezel ensures smooth and easy handling of the famous circular aviation slide rule. Price: From $5,675
With the Manufacture Breitling Caliber B04 visible through the transparent case back and equipped with revolutionary entirely crown-adjustable dual time-zone system. A large size with an imposing 48 mm-diameter steel case and a perfectly legible ‘instrument panel’. Equipped with the famous aviation slide rule, the Navitimer GMT is also available in a red gold limited series. Price: From $4,875
Introduced at Baselworld this year, the Breitling Colt Skyracer is designed for professionals requiring high-accuracy on their wrist. With an avant-garde case made of Breitlight® and an ultra-technical black look, Skyracer is made from light and sturdy Breitlight® is a material 3.3 times lighter than titanium and 5.8 times lighter than steel, yet significantly harder, while featuring exceptional resistance to scratching, traction and corrosion, along with anti-magnetic and anti-allergenic properties. The Skyracer is powered by a thermos-compensated SuperQuartzTM movement, ten times more accurate than standard quartz and chronometer-certified by the COSC. Price: From $1,775
Created to be the ultimate pilot’s instrument, this multifunction electronic chronograph features a titanium case equipped with the Breitling Caliber B50: an analog and digital-display SuperQuartz™ movement specially developed for aviation. It innovates with an ultra-readable display, outstanding user friendliness and a broad array of functions. In its “Night Mission” version, the 46mm Cockpit B50 comes with a black titanium case achieved by a highly resistant carbon-based treatment, complete with a matching rubber strap. Price: From $5,495