Breitling SA is a Swiss luxury watchmaker based in Grenchen, Switzerland. The company was founded in 1884 by Léon Breitling in Saint-Imier, Switzerland. Breitling is known for precision-made chronometers designed for aviators.
The company fits all of its watches with mechanical or quartz movements that are chronometer certified by the COSC.Watches are usually marketed towards either diving (SuperOcean) or aviation (Navitimer). Aviation models such as the Navitimer offer aviation functions largely as complications, since their function in aviation has largely been replaced by modern electronic instruments. The styling of Breitling watches is characterized by polished cases, bracelets and large watch faces which are designed to improve readability. Many models have an automatic winding mechanism that is purely mechanical (i.e. using no electronic components) and frequently have complications. Breitling has also supported pilots with group orders, customized to include logos. By the 1990s, the use of logos for military aviation customers had also expanded to include various unit logos on the Aerospace and Chronospace Auto models, primarily those of squadrons and usually part of a group purchase by the pilots and navigators/flight officers of that particular unit.
Astronaut Scott Carpenter wearing a Breitling Cosmonaute inside the Aurora 7 spacecraft on May 24, 1962.
Breitling SA was founded in Saint-Imier, Bernese Jura by Léon Breitling in 1884. When Léon Breitling died in 1914, the business passed to his son, Gaston, and then to his son, Willy, in 1935. Willy's children were not interested in pursuing the family business, so the Breitling factory in La Chaux de Fonds closed in December 1978. Willy, already in poor health, died in May 1979. Ernst Schneider, owner of the Sicura Company in Grenchen, bought the Breitling name from the founding Breitling family in 1979. Production of "Breitling" watches then moved to the Sicura factory, which later changed its name to Montres Breitling AG and then Breitling AG in 1994. The Schneider family retained ownership until April 2017. Ernst's son, Theodore Schneider, sold the majority stake (80%) in Breitling to CVC Capital Partners for over $870m. Theodore Schneider retained 20% control of Breitling until November 2018, when he sold these remaining 20% to CVC. Historically, Breitling sourced movements from suppliers such as Valjoux, ETA, and Venus rather than producing movements in-house. In 2009 Breitling developed the B01, an in-house self-winding, column wheel chronograph movement, used in the Breitling Chronomat 01 and subsequently Navitimer 01.