Breitling – The Pilot’s Watch Brand

Mar 2, 2020 | Breitling, Watches

The watch brands that have achieved a true place in history are those that produced watches capable of more than simply keeping regular time. Breitling has earned its status as the watch for pilots, here we see why.

The Breitling brand has been producing stunning timepieces for over 130 years is responsible for some of the most precise timing devices ever created. In his workshop in the Jura mountains, Léon Breitling focused on making very intricate complex watches that pushed the boundaries of timekeeping precision. Within ten years of the company’s inception, Léon’s success necessitated a move to larger premises, resulting in a transfer to a factory in 1892.

Léon Breitling continued to make watches chronographs until his death in 1914. He left the business to his son, Gaston, who continued the work of his late father – although his time at the helm was tragically short. Gaston developed produced the Breitling chronograph, which was popular among the military police forces during World War I. Gaston’s death shortly after the Armistice rendered the Breitling brand leaderless; it was a long, lost five years before Gaston’s son, Willy, stepped into the leadership role.

Willy was able to pick up where both his father grandfather had left off. Taking a fresh approach regarding the professions that could make use of the watches, Willy secured a contract to provide Breitling watches to the British Air Ministry. The Breitling watches featured several timing conversion rulers that made them invaluable to pilots, who needed to generate in-flight calculations for distance, speed fuel. The development of the slide rule bezel made Breitling watches not only instantly recognisable but endlessly practical.

Willy’s move into aviation proved to be inspiring, with Breitling watches becoming the must-have timepiece of the skies. With a starring role on the wrists of the British Royal Air Force, the Breitling brand began to be adopted by commercial pilots too. However, Breitling’s reach didn’t stop there. Working with Lt. Commander Scott Carpenter on the Mercury-Atlas 7 mission, Breitling adapted the Breitling Navitimer to replace the standard twelve-hour clock with a twenty-four-hour one. This gave more meaning to time, as in space, the normal Circadian rhythm is null void.

With the introduction of the Breitling Chronomat in 1969, it seemed the brand’s future success was secured. Although Breitling had developed the world’s first self-winding chronograph in the Chronomat, the emergence of quartz movements damaged Breitling’s star. By 1979, Willy Breitling had been forced to close the company.

Enter Ernest Schneider, a pilot turned watchmaker, who succeeded where Willy Breitling had failed. Schneider was able to harness quartz technology, developing watches featuring a traditional handset alongside digital displays. This made the Breitling an easy choice for aviators once again. Models including the Breitling Jupiter, Breitling Pluton Breitling Mars were developed through consultation with aviation professionals pilots – leading the way for the subsequent Breitling B-1, Breitling Aerospace Breitling Emergency.

 

In this age of smartphones supercomputers, it is hard to imagine the need for a watch that could be used to calculate a plane’s speed, flight time remaining fuel – however, Breitling managed this more. If you’re looking to pawn your Breitling watch with a London pawnbroker, then get in touch with Suttons and Robertsons today.

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