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Breitling – Professional Instruments For Pilots & Divers

History, Mission, Manufacture, Movements, Reputation, Ranking & Pricing

Breitling Brand Review By Alexander – Founder and Owner of swissdiverswatches.com


A Review of Breitling’s history

Breitling Superocean

(Image By Manuel Rebic)

In 1884 Léon Breitling established Breitling in Grenchen – the Canton of Solothurn, in Switzerland. Breitling is one of very few independent Swiss watchmakers left.

Léon Breitling intended for his company to specialize in the field of timers and chronographs – precision instruments to be used primarily within science, sports and industry.

In 1915, the legendary Swiss watch manufacturer manufactured its first chronograph wrist watch.

In 1923, they improved their chronographs by separating the resetting function from stop and start function.

In 1934, the watchmaker perfected the modern chronograph by creating a second independent pushpiece. The brand’s competitors soon adopted the same system themselves.

Since its early stage, Breitling has been the nr 1 watchmaker in the aviation world. Since the beginning of the 1930s Breitling created chronographs meant to be used in cockpits. The Royal Air Force is known to have used Breitling instruments in their figher planes during WW2.

In 1952, the watch producer from Grenchen created the famous Navitimer Collection which was designed for aviation.

Breitling Navitimer(Image By Torsten Bolten)

In the 1950s and the 1960s, Breitling became the natural choice for commercial aviation and its chronographs even became standard watches among airline companies and aircraft manufacturers.

Breitling Superocean(Image By Manuel Rebic)

In 1962, Scott Carpenter used a Breitling Navitimer for his orbital flight in the Aurora 7 capsule. Breitling can boast with the first chronograph wrist watch in space.

Scott Carpenter With His Breitling Navitimer(Image By NASA)

In 1969, the watch manufacturer created one of the first automatic chronograph movements. It’s said that Zenith, a competitor, actually created the first automatic chronograph movement, the El Primero the very same year. Even if that is so, Breitling was still a member of the avant garde watch manufacturers who were specialized in developing and producing automatic chronograph movements.

In 1984, the Swiss brand from Grenchen announced the reappearance of mechanical chronographs which resulted in Breitling launching the famous Chronomat Collection which is the flagship of Breitling.

The Breitling Chronomat Collection is unique in the sense that it is a pilots watch with divers watch features. Breitling Chronomat 41 is water resistant at 300 meters and Chronomat 44 at 500 meters.

In 2009, Breitling created the famous Caliber 01 in-house chronograph movement which is considered to be one of the most prominent automatic chronogaph movements in the world.

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A Review of Breitling’s mission

There are two expressions, more than any other, that truly capture the purpose and spirit of Breitling, and these are: “instruments for professionals” and “obsession with quality”.

Below: The epitome of a professional tool watch: the Breitling Emergency Watch.

Breitling Emergency Watch

(Image By Rama)

Breitling is the only brand in the world that submits all its movements to COSC (Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute). Even its quartz movements are submitted to COSC. They are called SuperQuartzTM movements and they are ten times as accurate as the standard Swiss quartz movement.

This brand is first and foremost dedicated, to developing, designing and manufacturing professional instrumental watches with readable dials and very tough, robust and well built cases and bracelets – designed to stand the test of time and merciless daily usage.

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A Review of Breitling’s manufacture

All movements utilized or manufactured by Breitling are chronometer certified by COSC (Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute). Both in-house made movements and ETA movements are chronometer certified.

Breitling Avenger Seawolf(Image By John Torcasio)

Breitling is specialized in and primarily known for very sturdy, reliable chronograph movements with a 99.99% accuracy.

In 2009, the brand became a member of a very exclusive club of Swiss watch brands, with their own in-house made mechanical chronograph movements. Most Breitling watches still use ETA movements procured from Swatch Group. Only a minority of Breitling watches are fitted with Breitling’s very own in-house movements.

Each and every movement utilized by Breitling – be it a Breitling in-house made movement or an ETA movement from Swatch Group, is individually tested by high tech equipment to ensure best possible performance.

Their cases are specifically designed to ensure maximum protection (against shocks and impacts) for the movement inside the case. The cases are designed with the professional in mind. Breitling either uses the 316L antimagnetic steel or grade 2 titanium for this very purpose of maximum protection. 316L is a standard steel grade used by many other Swiss luxury wristwatch brands such as Omega and Tudor.

The crowns and pushpieces are sturdy and well protected too with performance and maximum protection in mind.

Breitling dials typically look like instrument panels with readability taken into account.

All their watches are equipped with sapphire crystal glass which is standard among Swiss watches.

Their bracelets are elegant and sturdy designs that are designed for the worst possible daily scenarios of wear and tear. They are designed to withstand the forces of pulling and twisting.

Breitling rubber and leather straps too are designed with protection and serviceability in mind – usually made of the finest materials.

Breitling uses a very strict and sophisticated quality control involving several tests used to guarantee the quality of the Breitling timepiece.

The watch producer is aslo known for research and development. The brand is extensively involved in research aimed at optimizing their watches and movements.

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A Review of Breitling’s movements

There is a great variety of movements used by Breitling.

The very first in-house movement made by Breitling, is called Breitling 01, and was launched in 2009. However most movements currently utilized by Breitling, are actually ETA/Valjoux movements procured from Swatch Group.

All their movements are chronometer certified which makes Breitling a member of a very small and exclusive club of Swiss watchmakers.

Breitling either relies on chronometer certified Swiss quartz movements or chronometer certified Swiss automatic movements – that in some cases are in-house made by Breitling, but usually are ETA/Valjoux movements procured from Swatch Group.

Breitling Superocean(Image By Manuel Rebic)

Each Breitling collection uses different movements:

Breitling Aerospace Evo:

  • Breitling 79, Swiss chronometer certified quartz/battery movement.

Breitling Avenger II:

  • Breitling automatic Caliber 13, base movement Swiss automatic ETA/Valjoux 7750, with 25 jewels, 28,800 vph, and a 42 hour power reserve (automatic chronograph).
  • Breitling automatic Caliber 32, base movement Swiss automatic ETA 2893-2, with 21 jewels, 28,800 vph. This is a GMT movement.

Breitling Avenger II Seawolf:

  • Breitling automatic Caliber 17, base movement Swiss automatic ETA 2824-2, with 25 jewels, 28,800 vph.

Breitling Chronomat Blackbird:

  • Breitling automatic Caliber B13, base movement Swiss automatic ETA/Valjoux 7750, with 25 jewels, 28,800 vph, and a 42 hour power reserve.

Breitling Chronomat GMT:

  • Breitling in-house automatic Breitling 04, with 47 jewels, 28,800 vph, and a 70 hour power reserve. This is a GMT movement.

Breitling Chronomat 41:

  • Breitling in-house automatic Breitling 01, with 47 jewels, 28,800 vph, and a 70 hour power reserve.

Breitling Chronomat 44:

  • Breitling in-house automatic Breitling 01, with 47 jewels, 28,800 vph, and a 70 hour power reserve.
  • Breitling in-house automatic Breitling 04, with 47 jewels, 28,800 vph, and a 70 hour power reserve. This is a GMT movement.

Breitling Chronomat 44 Flying Fish:

  • Breitling in-house automatic Breitling B01, with 47 jewels, 28,800 vph, and a 70 hour power reserve.

Breitling Colt:

  • Swiss chronometer certified quartz/battery movement.
  • Breitling automatic Caliber 13, base movement Swiss automatic ETA/Valjoux 7750, with 25 jewels, 28,800 vph, and a 42 hour power reserve (automatic chronograph).
  • Breitling automatic Caliber 17, base movement ETA 2824-2, with 25 jewels, 28,800 vph.

Breitling Galactic:

  • Breitling in-house Caliber 71, chronometer certified quartz/battery movement.
  • Breitling in-house automatic Caliber 37, with 27 jewels, 28,800 vph.
  • Breitling automatic Caliber 49, base movement Swiss automatic ETA 2896, 22 jewels, 28,800 vph, and a 42 hour power reserve.

Breitling Super Avenger II:

  • Breitling in-house automatic Caliber 13, 25 jewels, 28,800 vph.

Breitling Superocean Chronograph II:

  • Breitling automatic Caliber 13, base movement ETA/Valjoux 7750, with 25 jewels, 28,800 vph, and a 42 hour power reserve.
  • Breitling B73, chronometer certified quartz/battery base movement ETA Thermoline 251.232.

Breitling Superocean Chronograph M2000:

  • Breitling B73, chronometer certified quartz/battery base movement ETA Thermoline 251.232.

Breitling Superocean Chronograph Steelfish:

  • Breitling automatic Caliber 13, base movement ETA/Valjoux 7750, with 25 jewels, 28,800 vph, and a 42 hour power reserve.

Breitling Superocean Heritage 42:

  • Breitling automatic Caliber 17, base movement ETA 2824-2, with 25 jewels, 28,800 vph, and a 40 hour power reserve.

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronograph 44:

  • Breitling automatic Caliber 23, base movement ETA/Valjoux 7753, with 25 jewels, 28,800 vph.

Breitling Superocean Heritage 46:

  • Breitling automatic Caliber 13, base movement ETA/Valjoux 7750, with 25 jewels, 28,800 vph, and a 42 hour power reserve.
  • Breitling automatic Caliber 17, base movement ETA 2824-2, with 25 jewels, 28,800 vph, and a 40 hour power reserve.

Breitling Superocean II 42:

  • Breitling automatic Caliber 17, base movement ETA 2824-2, with 25 jewels, 28,800 vph, and a 40 hour power reserve.

Breitling Superocean II 44:

  • Breitling automatic Caliber 17, base movement ETA 2824-2, with 25 jewels, 28,800 vph, and a 40 hour power reserve.

Important note:

Breitling Chronomat is considered to be the flagship and pride of Breitling. That’s due to the fact that Breitling Chronomat is the embodiment of what Breitling stands for. The Chronomat collection is the crown jewel of this brand.

There are two reasons why the Breitling Chronomat is the flagship and pride of Breitling:

  • Breitling Chronomat is a combined divers watch and pilots watch.
  • Most timepieces in this collection employ Breitling’s in-house made movements.

More specifically, it’s the particular Breitling Chronomat line/collection equipped with in-house movements Breitling 01, which is an automatic chronograph movement, and Breitling 04, which is an automatic chronograph equipped with a GMT function.

The only Breitling Chronomat Collection which isn’t equipped with in-house movements is Breitling Chronomat Blackbird. All other Chronomat collections however are equipped with Breitling’s in-house movements.

If it’s the movement alone that interests you, and you want the very best that Breitling can offer you – go with the Chronomat!

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A Review of Breitling’s reputation

Breitling has a very good reputation – it’s one of the most famous, recognized and popular Swiss luxury watch brands and watchmakers in the world. Breitling is a fully independent Swiss watchmaker – one of the very few independent watch manufacturers left in the industry.

As far as reputation and ranking are concerned, I’d say that Breitling ranks among the top 15 luxury watch brands in the world.

Breitling Superocean(Image By Manuel Rebic)

Breitling is popular all over the world and especially in the USA. Several retailers across the globe offer Breitling watches. The manufacturer is known to produce large, masculine, good, solid timepieces with a professional instrumental look to them.

All Breitling timepieces are chronometers, and as far as I know Breitling is the only major Swiss brand alongside Rolex where every single timepiece is chronometer certified.

Breitling is also known for producing chronographs and timepieces for professionals. The watch manufacturer from Grenchen, is also known to belong to an exclusive club of watch manufacturers that produce their own mechanical chronograph movements.

Breitling is often referred to as “instruments for professionals” and the brand is often associated with aviation and civilian and military pilots.

Breitling-Aircraft(Image By Calvin Smith)

Indeed, Breitling markets itself as a brand for pilots, but the truth is, Breitling does offer an impressive range of divers watch collections, which very few other watch brands, and watch manufacturers can offer. I can’t think of any other brand out there that can offer you as many divers watch collections as Breitling!

Although the brand suffered financially from the quartz crisis in the 1970s and the 1980s, Breitling became commercially very successful again in the 1980s and onwards, largely due to the renaissance of peoples’ interest in mechanical and automatic watches, and a new Breitling management which sat a new path for the firm, and infused new energy into the company and presented a new vision for Breitling’s future.

While Breitling isn’t an example of the art of higher watchmaking, the watch manufacturer does produce solid and reliable timepieces.

Breitling is considered to be the main competitor of both Rolex and Omega as far as pricing, the level of the movements’ complications, and the purpose of the daily usage are concerned.

However, I would personally rank Rolex and Omega higher than Breitling. My reasons for that would involve:

1) movements, 2) history, 3) groundbreaking inventions, 4) innovative skills, 5) pioneer spirit, 6) prestige, 7) steel grade (Rolex uses a better steel grade), 8) build quality, 9) quality and quantity of timepieces produced, 10) industrial and economic strength and market presence, and 11) impact on modern culture.

To conclude:

  • If you want a solid, well built, professional looking, and reliable Swiss luxury watch which belongs to a universally recognized, known, successful and coveted brand, Breitling is definitely the right choice.
  • Due to Breitling’s hefty and large sizes and highly polished steel, be prepared that your Breitling watch will be seen and noticed! This is not a discrete brand. Aesthetically, Breitling is the opposite of Omega and Rolex.
  • If you want a Swiss luxury watch which can be used as daily watch for almost every single occasion – including life’s special moments (ceremonies, festivities, holidays, weddings), you simply can’t go wrong with Breitling!
  • And finally – if you want the very best that Breitling can offer you, go with the Breitling Chronomat which is a combined divers watch and pilots watch.

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A Review of Breitling’s ranking

My ranking of Breitling: 12th.

It’s debatable how you actually rank a brand, and a ranking is never objective, but the best way to turn a subjective ranking into an “objective” one is to rely on certain criteria. My ranking criteria of course are entirely subjective, and they aren’t set in stone.

I use 14 criteria in determining the ranking of a particular brand, such as (1) a long and respected history, (2) limited supply and large demand, (3) reputation/status/prestige, (4) whether the brand is independent or not, (5) pioneering spirit and innovations, (6) impact on watchmaking history and modern culture, (7) general in-house production, (8) whether the brand relies on in-house made movements or not, (9) whether or not the brand makes movement complications, (10) steel grade, (11) build quality, (12) price range, (13) good resale value, and (14) market presence.

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Breitling Superocean(Image By Manuel Rebic)


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6 thoughts on “Buy a Breitling watch

  1. Vladimir

    Hi Alexander!
    I need your advice: I’m thinking of buying a heavy duty Breitling dive watch but at the same time I know that Breitling’s very best dive watches have no in-house movements. The Chronomat collection has one of the best in-house made chronograph movements in the world but it doesn’t have the same water resistance as Breitling’s most extreme dive watches. So which watch should I pick?

    Vladimir

    Reply
    1. Alexander Post author

      Hello Vladimir and a very warm welcome to swissdiverswatches.com.

      The most extreme divers watch Breitling can offer you today is Breitling Avenger II Seawolf, with a water resistance of 3,000 meters/9,843 feet. It’s equipped with a Rolex style automatic helium escape valve at the 9 o’clock position at the side of the case. The movement it uses is a Breitling automatic Caliber 17, base movement Swiss automatic ETA 2824-2, with 25 jewels, 28,800 vph.

      The Breitling Chronomat’s minimum water resistance is 200 meters/660 feet and can offer you a maximum of 500 meters/1,650 feet. The Breitling in-house automatic movement B01, has 47 jewels, 28,800 vph, and a 70 hour power reserve. The Breitling 04 has the exact same technical performance as the B01 with the signifanct difference that the B04 is a chronograph and a GMT, while the B01 is only a chronograph.

      So yes Breitling Avenger II Seawolf is a better divers watch with a much larger water resistance while the Breitling Chronomat has a more refined movement with a considerably better performance.

      The answer to your question is really this: since none of these two watches can offer you exactly what you’re looking for, which is most important to you: water resistance or refined in-house made movements?

      If you give higher priority to in-house made movements with better performance – go with the Breitling Chronomat. If you want the very best divers watch that Breitling can offer you today, go with the Breitling Avenger II Seawolf.

      Cheers
      Alexander

      Reply
  2. Lynn

    Hi Alex. I’m contemplating buying a Breitling for my husband and I was wondering if you could give me some advice. I’m looking for the very best that the brand has to offer and I know my husband wants a very accurate timepiece which is water resistant and equipped with a chronograph. And just to clarify things: what’s the difference between chronographs and chronometers?

    Thank you!
    Lynn

    Reply
    1. Alexander Post author

      Hello Lynn and a very warm welcome to swissdiverswatches.com.
      Let’s answer your last question first, because once that question has been answered, it’s easier to respond to the other questions.

      A chronograph watch is a stopwatch that’s equipped with an independent sweep second hand. Chronographs usually measure minutes, seconds, and tenths of a second. Chronographs are used for timing events.

      A chronometer watch is essentially a high-precision watch with a movement that is deemed to be accurate enough to receive an official timing certificate from an organization called “Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres” – the “Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute” (COSC).

      So it’s possible for a watch to be a chronograph without necessarily being a chronometer and vice versa.
      All Breitlings are chronometers, but all of them aren’t chronographs.

      With regards to which watch you should pick for your husband: all Breitlings are accurate chronometer watches, no matter if they employ in-house made Breitling movements or generic ETA/Valjoux movements made by Swatch Group.

      If you’re looking for the very best that Breitling has to offer, with water resistance, accuracy and a chronograph in mind, you can only be referring to one collection: the Breitling Chronomat. There are different chronomats. “Chronomat 41” means it’s a smaller watch with a 41mm diameter, while “Chronomat 44” is referring to the larger version of the same watch, with a 44mm diameter.

      Most likely you’re looking for the Breitling Chronomat.

      Cheers
      Alexander

      Reply
  3. Richard

    Hello Alexander!
    This is an awesome article. I’m a zealous Breitling fan, and it’s really great to finally read an extensive and well detailed article reviewing my favorite brand. From your point of view, how does Breitling’s in-house movements B01 and B04 compare to Rolex’s and Omega’s in-house movements? And on top of that, I recently had a watch aficionado debate with a guy who claimed that Panerai as a brand stands above Breitling. Personally I Think Breitling is way better than Panerai but I wanted to hear your opinion on it.

    Thank you for taking your time!
    Richard

    Reply
    1. Alexander Post author

      Hello Richard and a very warm welcome to swissdiverswatches.com.
      Breitling’s in-house movements B01 and B04 compare very favorably to Rolex’s and Omega’s in-house made movements.

      In similarity to Rolex and Omega, Breitling’s movements are chronometer certified. Very few brands chronometer certify their watches. Breitling’s in-house made movements have a larger power reserve and a considerably larger number of movement jewels than Rolex and Omega, and as you know movement jewels reduce friction inside the movement and make the movement last longer, which increases the time intervals between each repair and service, and reduces the frequency of needing to repair and service the movements.

      So yes, Breitling’s in-house movements compare favorably to Rolex and Omega. Breitling’s generic ETA/Valjoux movements made by Swatch Group, however, do not compare favorably to Rolex and Omega.

      The ranking and the prestige of various brands is indeed subjective, so your friends are naturally entitled to their opinion, but in my mind it’s a given that Breitling ranks higher in the luxury watch hierarchy than Panerai.

      Breitling is an independent watchmaker, and there are very few of them left in the industry, while Panerai is wholly owned by Richemont Group.

      Panerai is known essentially for one thing only, and that’s of having been the official supplier of military watches to the Royal Italian Navy of the early and mid 20th century.

      Breitling is the nr 1 aviation brand in the world, they make only chronometer certified movements (Panerai does not), Breitling can offer you a wide variety of divers watches and pilot watches (Panerai makes no pilot watches), Breitling is an expert on chronographs (most Panerais are just equipped with the bare essentials).

      In 1962, Scott Carpenter used a Breitling Navitimer for his orbital flight in the Aurora 7 capsule. Breitling can boast with the first chronograph wrist watch in space. No Panerais have been used in outer space.

      Breitling was worn by Bond actor Sean Connery in the Bond movie “Thunderball” in 1965. Panerais have never been used in a single Bond movie.

      As far as history, impact on history, and movement complications are concerned, and versatily of production, Breitling, at least in my mind, deserves to be ranked higher than Panerai for sure.

      Cheers
      Alexander

      Reply

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