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The Beginnings of Breitling

Breitling was founded by Léon Breitling in 1884 in St Imier with the specific purpose to develop chronographs and counters for scientific and industrial applications. In 1892, to face up to the unstoppable growth of his company, Léon Breitling decides to relocate his workshops to La-Chaux-de-Fonds, metropolis of the Swiss watch industry in those days. Louis Breitling dies en 1914 and leaves his son Gaston Breitling in charge. One year later, Breitling creates the first wristwatch chronograph. Later, he continues to make several significant developments in this area and supplying the first wristwatch instruments to aviators. By 1923, Breitling develops the independent chronograph push piece. Gaston’s son, Willy Breitling takes over control of the company in 1932 and in 1934 Breitling adds a second push piece to the chronograph enabling either cumulative or incremental time recording giving the chronograph its current configuration. In 1936 Breitling becomes the official supplier to the Royal Air Force. Breitling introduces the Breitling Chronomat in 1942 – the first chronograph to be fitted with a circular slide rule. The company also widens its professional clientele to include the American armed forces. 1954 sees the creation of the Breitling Navitimer, a wrist instrument equipped with the famous “navigation computer”. This exceptional chronograph becomes the favourite among the pilots across the globe. By that time, Breitling was already supplying the major international airlines with cockpit clocks. In 1962, the astronaut Scott Carpenter wears the Breitling Cosmonaute chronograph during his orbital flight aboard the Aurora 7 space capsule. Along with Büren and Heuer-Leonidas, Breitling invents the self-winding chronograph in 1969. This technical feat represents a major breakthrough for the entire Swiss watch industry. Will Breitling dies in 1979. The company was subsequently bought by Ernest Schneider. Breitling launches, for its 100th year anniversary, the Breitling Chronomat which would later become Breitling’s best selling line in the collection. In 1985, the Aerospace, a titanium multi-function electronic chronograph, attracts the attention of a large number of pilots and 10 years later, Breitling presents the Breitling Emergency, with a built-in micro-transmitter transmitting on aircraft emergency frequency. In 1999, Breitling ends the century with the ambitious bet of subordinating the totality of its production to the Swiss Official Chronometer Control. In 2000, Breitling opens in Grenchen, Switzerland, its new headquarters. A year later, with the introduction of the Breitling SuperQuartzTM , Breitling proposes a mechanism ten-fold more precise than the standard ones due to its electronic mechanisms which are the only that fulfill the criteria of COSC. Today, Breitling is still established in La Chaux-de-Fonds, the town where Léon Breitling opened his first chronograph factory 110 years earlier.
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