Breitling Watches: A Brief Overview

If you've heard of Breitling watches, which you probably have, you probably also wondered where are Breitling watches made? Like most major players in the watchmaking industry, Breitling watches hail from Switzerland. Founded in 1884 by watchmaker Leon Breitling, Breitling watches did not begin as many other famous watchmakers did. Breitling did not begin as a jeweler. Unlike Patek Philippe, Breitling did not begin as a clockmaker devoted to innovating pocket watches.

Instead, Breitling began as a watchmaker devoted to the new and innovative technology of the chronometer. Not only did Leon Breitling revolutionize the chronometer and simplify the mechanism, but he was also responsible for making the worlds' most coveted handheld chronograph. Leon's patented simplified chronograph was famous the world over, and due to its accessibility and precision allowed for advancements in science, military capabilities, and even human athleticism. Every Breitling timepiece is classic and luxury. Even being luxury, this Swiss watch company makes it easy to navigate every timepiece of theirs to where you can even learn how to wind a breitling watch. Read on to discover more about the luxury watch brand.

What Makes Breitling Special?

Sometimes compared to Rolex and brands alike, Breitling still stands out from the rest, and here's how. Aside from being one of the best Swiss-made watches in the world, what sets Breitling apart from other watchmakers is their use of the precision complication known as the chronograph. Not only is Breitling one of the world leaders in chronograph technology, but they were also actually the first watchmaker to incorporate a chronograph into the wristwatch. 

As we know from our brief overview, Leon Breitling was a Swiss watchmaker devoted to the chronograph. And, before he ever made watches, he made precision chronographs for military and scientific use. Leon's chronographs were widely regarded as the best in the world, so naturally, when he shifted his sights to wristwatches, the addition of the chronograph to the watch was not far behind. Although Leon was never able to realize his dream of incorporating a chronograph into a wristwatch, in 1915, Leon's son Gaston launched the world's first wrist chronograph with a separate push-piece above the watch crown. This revolutionary complication and design is one that has been implemented, copied, and utilized by every major watch brand since Gaston first introduced it in 1915. The Breitling chronograph wristwatch was a true game-changer.  

Before we get into how Breitling expertly employs this complication in so many of their watches, let's first take a look at what a chronograph is.

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What Is A Chronograph?

Very simply, a chronograph is a stopwatch. While this representation of this classic luxury watch complication is a drastic over-simplification, thinking of the chronograph as a stopwatch is the best method for understanding the chronograph and its basic functionality. 

Ultimately the chronograph measures time as it exists between two distinct points. Similar to a stopwatch, a chronograph measures a specific amount of time, which is then in turn used to calculate things like speed, distance, rate of travel, etc. The ability to start and stop time with absolute precision gives whoever is using a chronograph the ability to precisely and accurately measure a multitude of situations.

Stopwatches Vs. Chronographs

Unlike classic digital stopwatches, the chronograph watch uses gears and other mechanical functions, offering a precision that digital stopwatches simply cannot achieve. The analog mechanisms found in luxury watch chronographs, like those Breitling is famous for, ensure a higher degree of control for the user and a more accurate reading regarding the measurement of time. 

While the modern stopwatch certainly has its roots firmly planted in the history of the chronograph, the chronograph (due to its mechanical nature) is the superior version of this capability. Before we get into how to properly use a chronograph, let's look at the history of this complication for greater insight into a chronograph's capabilities.

Types Of Chronographs And How To Use Them

There are three major types of chronographs, all of which have their place based on your needs as a watch wearer. While all three chronographs share the same basic premise and many of the same controls, each chronograph offers its user something unique. Let's take a closer look at three different Breitling watches that feature the three major types of a chronograph.

Premier Automatic 40  - The Simple Chronograph

The Premier Automatic 40 is listed on Breitlings website as being "the first-ever Breitling watch dedicated to style." This particular watch is a testament to Breitling's functional roots while maintaining a gorgeously simple aesthetic that is as manly and impressive as it is stunning. 

The Premier Automatic 40 is powered by the Breitling Caliber 37 and features a COSC-certified chronometer. The particular chronograph featured in this Breitling watch is known as a "simple chronograph," the first of three chronographs we will focus on.

Also known as the classic chronograph, the simple chronograph featured in the Premier Automatic 40 is the most common option for luxury watches and the most basic of the 3 chronographs we will discuss today. The precision and reliability of the simple chronograph have made it a foundational complication and the industry standard for any sporting watch, dress watch, or daily use watch.  

While a chronograph can come in many varieties, they all feature the same basic principle - the ability to start and stop time using a single second hand. A simple chronograph traditionally requires three actions from the watch wearer to start, stop and reset the chronograph. This is the most basic version of a chronograph and often the most common in a daily wear watch.

AVI 1953 Edition - The Flyback Chronometer

This watch from Breitling, designed with pilots in mind, features a specific type of chronograph that is made for activities like racing, swimming, diving, and, most importantly, flying. The Flyback Chronograph is typically seen as an upgrade over the Simple Chronograph as it only requires two actions to start, stop and reset the chronograph. This is advantageous when you are limited in how much attention you can pay to your chronograph while at the same time still providing an incredibly accurate and accountable measurement of time. 

As is the case with all flyback chronographs, the flyback chronograph featured on the AVI 1953 Edition only requires one press to start the chronograph, and the next press simultaneously stops the timer and sends it immediately back to zero. 

For the most part, all Breitling watches feature a flyback chronograph as it is believed to be the more sophisticated (and therefore preferred) chronograph. The flyback chronograph allows the user to spend less time and effort pressing buttons and allows for greater functionality with a more intuitive design for measuring segments of time.  

The Breitling Iron Man Pro - Rattrapante Chronograph

The Breitling Endurance Iron Man Pro is one such watch that features the impressive chronograph complication known as the rattrapante. In French, "Rattrapante" means split seconds, which should give you a good indication of how and why this particular chronograph got its name. The Rattrapante chronograph features an additional second hand to measure fractions of seconds, and while the fractional second can range from the tenths to the thousandths, having the ability to measure a "split-second" is what differentiates the Rattrapante chronograph from its other two time-measuring counterparts. 

The Iron Man Pro is described by Breitling as "equal to the challenges of a rigorous workout but fashionable enough for everyday wear." This particular watch from Breitling features a stunning black case/red band combo that is as striking as it is authoritative. Additionally, this watch features three different chronographs (1/10th second (rattrapante), 60 seconds, and 30 min). 

A Rattrapante chronograph often features two separate second hands wherein the additional secondhand within the complication moves at a faster rate than its counterpart. Think of this relationship as a much faster version of the way your secondhand and minute hand cooperate within your standard watch or clock. The result of the rattrapante chronograph, like that used in the Breitling Iron Man Pro, is a more precise and accurate measurement of fractional time. In large majority, this is why the Rattrapante chronograph is considered the superior option to the simple chronograph. 

Breitling's Chronograph Watches: A Chronograph For Every Activity

Breitling understands better than any other watchmaker that the chronograph is not just a fancy complication for aesthetic value but an actual real-life tool that you can and should put to practical use. Now that we are more familiar with what a chronograph is and how it works, let's look at some real-life applications of this technology and the watches Breiling sells with practical chronograph use in mind.  


The Top Time Line - Breitling has a special place in their hearts (and in their catalog) for racing enthusiasts. The newest line of men's racing watches from Breitling, which they have aptly named the Top Timeline, feature some of Breitling's most accurate chronographs to date. Breitling claims that the particular chronograph featured in this line is accurate to up to 1/8th of a second! The accuracy of this watch combined with the classic roadster designs makes this line of chronograph-specific watches a racing enthusiast's dream. 


The Navitimer Line - This line of watches is billed by Breitling as being the "icon for pilots," meaning that these Breitling watches are designed for everything a pilot would need while flying. Everything from a rotating bezel, contrasting numerals for easy visibility, and of course, a flyback chronograph are all staples for the watches in the Navitimer line. 

Diving And Swimming

The Superocean Line - Described as being Breitling's ultimate dive watch, the watches found in the Superocean line are designed for all of the rugged ocean activities you aspire to take part in, without sacrificing the accuracy, style, or design of Breitling. While only a few of the watches in the Superocean line feature a chronograph, the Superocean line is designed to be driver-friendly and surfer-specific, as affirmed by Kelly Slater's personal endorsement of this sporting ocean-friendly watch. 

Why Buy Breitling

If you are a sporting individual or a watch enthusiast of any kind, Breitling is the watch for you. The Breitling brand’s dedication to durability and precision without sacrificing style or aesthetic is truly remarkable. And, as if their dedication to being the best luxury watch for those who work hard and play hard wasn't enough, they are also one of the most reasonably priced luxury watches! Whether you're looking for pilot watches, mechanical watches, or just simple watches, you'll find something in the Breitling brand's collections.

Despite changes in ownership, a century of mechanical advancements, and an ever-changing fashion landscape, Breitling has remained true to its roots in a way that is admirable, affordable, and absolutely brilliant. For the best precision watches to withstand your rugged lifestyle, look no further than Breitling. Visit CJ Charles to find the perfect Breitling watch and learn more about the classic Swiss watchmaker. 

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