8 Curiosities You Didn't Know About Breitling - Chronoexpert

1. Invented today’s chronograph configuration

Breitling was founded in 1884 in Switzerland by Leon Breitling and from the beginning, the aim was to develop timepieces for sport, industry and science.

In 1915 Breitling launched its first chronograph watch, but it was not until 1923 that Breitling introduced the reset button on the crown. This allowed the wearer to time successive events without having to reset the timing. It was Willy Breitling who a few years later incorporated a second pusher located at 4 o’clock to reset the chronograph.


Credit to BreitlingThis design was quickly copied by other brands that continue to use this configuration to this day.

2. It was part of the world’s first automatic chronograph.

As we have already mentioned before, Breitling was part of the select group that competed to bring out the first automatic chronograph in the world. It was 1967 and Jack Heuer met with Breitling to propose a joint project. Nothing more and nothing less than to collaborate and share development costs for the launch of a new caliber.

The rest of the story is already known and the conglomerate of Heuer, Buren, Breitling and many others fought toe to toe against Seiko and Zenith and its El Primero caliber. It is not known for sure who was really the first but who participated.

The result of this collaboration can be seen in the following Breiling, which like its brothers the Heuer Monaco and Autavia has the peculiarity of having the crown at 9 o’clock and the chronograph pushers on the opposite side. Under the crown beats a modular caliber with micro-rotor. Breitling Chrono-Matic 1969:

breitling chronomatic 1969

Credit to Breitling

3. It is the brand with the strongest link to aeronautics.

There are many watch brands and many of them are or try to relate to the world of aviation. From Omega and its NASA watches, through Bell&Ross and its cockpit watches, IWC and its Top Gun or even Zenith and its Pilot watches, the only ones that can carry this word on the dial. Original Breitling Navitimer:

breitling Navitimer original
Credit to Breitling

However, Breitling exudes aviation from its pores. From its military to civilian watches, there are many Pilot-inspired watches and those made for the respective flight squadrons. Photo Breitling Aerospace Limited Edition fighter squadrons:

breitling aerospace f16
Credit to Breitling

4. The emeritus king and the current king have the same model.

Among all Breitling models there is an extremely comfortable and practical one, the Aerospace. This quartz model with 2 digital displays is an iconic model that we have seen both Juan Carlos I and Felipe II wearing.

rey felipe II breitling aerospace
Credit to Elmundo.es

It is a rather peculiar watch as everything is operated from a single crown located at 3 o’clock. Pushing, pulling and moving the crown up or down activates all functions such as the chronograph, countdown or alarm. As a curiosity the first functions had the minute repeater function.

breitling cockpit titanium
Credit to Breitling

There are many variants of the model, including limited editions for armies and squadrons. To top it off, there is the possibility of adding an independent UTC module to the watch, which in the latest versions was digital quartz. In addition to the performance offered by the lightness of the set that in the first versions did not reach 50 grams, a featherweight.

5. Certifies all its watches as chronometers

Nowadays some other companies also do it however, Breitling has been certifying all its watches as chronometers for many years.

It may seem silly but even the quartz models had temperature compensation and passed the COSC. The commitment of the brand has always been to offer a well-regulated product.

6. Watch with Emergency Beacon

This is something that no one else besides Breitling has. In the 90’s I remember perfectly its presentation. A watch that saves your life in case of an accident. The Breitling Emergency was born.

In fact, I remember an expedition of the Spanish adventurer Quitín Muñoz, Mata-Rangi expedition, which did not end well and thanks to the watch they were saved. The fact is that the boats were falling apart at sea and the adventurer was able to pull the crown to activate the rescue beacon.

This watch of imposing appearance when it was born today we see it with a more contemporary size. Initially, it was marketed in 2 versions, one digital and one analog. The mechanism was simple. It had a separate battery that activated an SOS emitter at a certain frequency. When pulling the crown, an antenna was deployed and pulling another of the crowns you deployed another one and the emission began.

breitling emergency
Credit emergency


Legend has it that if you accidentally activated the service you would have to pay a respectable sum of money upon rescue. It was a fairly accessible watch in its first editions. However, the arrival of the second version brought with it certain limitations such as handing over the documentation to register it on the purchase of the watch as well as a selling price 3 times higher than the initial model.

If you can opt for one of the first series it is a great watch and if you have to choose the orange and yellow versions the most fun.


7. Instrument Clock

Pilot’s watches usually have functions associated with them. In many cases, these are simple functions such as a GMT hand or the inclusion of a chronograph function. However, Breitling went a step further.

The Navitimer model, a veteran in the catalog and next to the Chronomat, the most revered model, includes a slide rule bezel. In fact, it is this bezel that gives the model its characteristic image. An image certainly very Breitling ornate.

Over the years this bezel has been used to make conversions of different metric units and allow pilots to calculate their routes and fuel consumption. Of course, we go back to a bygone era, very bygone, as they currently have other more modern means. However, it is enough to be with a pilot to confirm its real usefulness in the absence of other means.

In the photo, we can see the Breitling Navitimer Limited Edition AOPA, by the Pilots Association, for which the watch was made. Both the mythical calculus bezel and the old Breitling emblem on the dial stand out. Quite a vintage feel for a modern watch equipped with Breitling’s latest B01 caliber.

If you want all the DNA of Breitling in a single watch you should pay attention to this model.

8. It was the first watch in orbit, thanks to Scott Carpenter.

In 1962 astronaut Scott Carpenter‘s Breitling Navitimer was the first watch in orbit. It was the Mercury mission and Scott completed 3 laps around the earth before re-entry.

The curious thing about the watch was that it had a 24h function instead of the usual 12h. With this function, the hands went around once a day instead of the usual 2 and so the astronauts could instantly know if they were day or night.

The Breitling Cosmonaute thus became one of Breitling’s mythical models with its unequaled recharged dial. I have had this watch and s really impressive on the wrist. It also has another advantage and that is that you can opt for a Cosmonaute with different calibers because over time they have had manual and automatic mechanisms.

As an anecdote on his return to earth Scott Carpenter splashed down and his watch got wet getting water inside and leaving it unrecoverable.

breitling scott carpenter
Credit to Breitling

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