The Breitling watch company was established in 1884 by a man called Leon Breitling. Breitling lived in St. Imier, Switzerland and his now famous Breitling watch company began by making chronographs and also scientific instuments where precise time measurement was critical. He continued along this line of work until his death in 1914. Luckily for us, his Son, Gaston took up the reigns and in 1915 Gaston created the world's first wrist watch chronograph. His creation proved to be very popular with pilots, who were given the Breitling watch in order to make flying (and especially navigation) an easier task.
By 1923 Gaston had had enough of watches and the company was taken over by his Son, Willy Breitling. Willy was very much the entrepreneur and a few years later in 1936, he convinced the Air Force to allow Breitling to supply all their pilots with the Breitling watch. This event catapulted Breitling onto the world stage and it wasn't long before their watches were also offered across the 'big-pond,' to members of the armed forces in America.
The Breitling watch became synonymous with flying and concentrated its efforts on producing superlative chronographs for use by pilots around the world. Among their beautiful creations was the Chronomat in 1942, featuring a circular slide rule and in 1954, maybe their most famous model, the Navitimer. The Navitimer became the firm favourite Breitling watch for use by pilots thanks to the in-built computer to aid navigation.
Breitling also went into space in 1962, worn by astronaut Scott Carpenter, the Cosmonaught wrist watch proved to be supremely accurate throughout the flight and became a best-seller worldwide.
As with most quality mechanical wrist watches of the era it was normal that Breitling would make an automatic, so-called "Perpetual" timekeeper. They went one better - creating the first self-winding Chronograph in 1969.
1979 proved to be a pivotal year for Breitling, with Ernest Schneider taking over from Willy Breitling when the company ran into severe financial difficulties. Schneider's business acumen saved the company and re-released the modern day Chronomat which has become one of the most popular wristwatches in the world today.
1884: Leon Breitling opens the Breitling workshop in St. Imiez, Switzerland.
1892: Breitling relocates the workshop to La Chaux-de-Fonds, the centre of Swiss watch making at the time.
1914: Gaston Breitling, Leon's Son, takes over the business after the death of Leon.
1915: Gaston Breitling produces the first wristwatch chronograph. The invention allows pilots to wear a chronograph for the first time.
1923: The development of the world's first chronograph push-piece takes the chronograph into a new era. Previously the winding crown was used to perform the same function - the push-piece made life a lot easier for pilots.
1932: Willy Breitling, Son fo Gaston, takes over the running of the Breitling empire.
1934: Another addition to the original push-pice invention - the second return to zero push-piece - allows measurement of successive time intervals, giving the ability to use the chronograph as a stop-watch.
1936: The honour of "Official Supplier to the Air Force" is bestowed upon the company.
1942: The Chronomat is launched, with its circular slide-rule feature. Breitling also supplies the US Armed Forces with time pieces.
1952: The Navitimer is launched. Including an in-built navigation computer the wristwatch is embraced by pilots around the world.
1962: Breitling goes into space aboard the Aurora 7, with astronaut Scott Carpenter.
1969: Breitling launches the self-winding chronograph movement.
1979: Ernest Schneider takes control of the company. Ernest is soon to have a major impact on the company.
1984: The Chronomat is re-launched. An inspirational decision by Schneider, the Chronomat soon becomes the world's favourite chronometer, a position held even today.
1985: The Aerospace is launched, a multifunction electronic chronograph made in titanium.
1995: The Emergency is launched. a multifunctional watch with built-in micro-transmitter broadcasting on the 121.5 MHz aircraft emergency frequency.
1998: The B-1 is launched, the most versatile multifunction chronograph ever to emerge from its workshops. Designed in cooperation with aviation professionals and fitted with a microprocessor specially developed for Breitling, the B-1 embodies significant progress in the field of Swiss microelectronic engineering.
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