Based in Grenchen, Switzerland, Breitling has a great eye for design. They design and manufacture their own chronometer watches useful to aviators. They are also a privately own company that was founded in 1884
The Breitling watches are normally marketed towards aviation (Navitimer) or diving (SuperOcean). (Check out our diving strap here.) Since most aviation functions have been replaced by modern electronic instruments, the aviation watches are more complicated for modern day use. They usually hold a solid look with polished cases, and large watch faces for easy readability. Most of their watches use no electronic components and have frequent complications.
1940 came along and Breitling decided to add a circular slide ruler to the chronograph models for use by pilots. They called this watch the Navitimer watch. The AOPA model was added for Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association with the logo on the dial in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Scott Carpenter, one of the astronauts from the Mercury space program, was approached by Breitling in 1961 with an idea of adding a 24-hour dial. Due to the lack of day and night in space, this was a must for astronauts. Carpenter wore the new watch on his flight in 1962.
Next the Breitling Emergency watch was produced. It contained a radio transmitter for civil aviation. The watch could pick up a signal that had a range up to 90 nautical miles in calm seas. The signal was never strong enough to be picked up by satellite.
Emergency II came along in April of 2013. The new version was upgraded to be monitored by satellites. The watch has a separate rechargeable battery for the transmitter.
In Thunderball, a great 1965 James Bond movie, Bond is given Breitling Top Time by Q. In the movie the watch is called Geiger counter. It’s allows Bond to find nuclear warheads. The watch wasn’t seen after the movie filmed until 2012, where it resurfaced in a car boot sale in England. It was bought for £25 and sold at an auction later for over £100,000.
Check out our straps that go with Breitling here!