Welcome to the most comprehensive Breitling FAQ on the Web! We
currently have the answers to 86 of the most frequently asked (or simply interesting) Breitling questions. Find your question in the list below and select the link to read the answer.
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Last updated on August 25th, 2002.
Does Breitling have a Web site?
Yes, the official Web site is at www.breitling.com.
How can I contact Breitling?
In the US:
BREITLING USA INC.
206 DANBURY ROAD
WILTON, CT 06897
P.O. BOX 1132
2540 GRENCHEN – SUISSE
Tel: +41 32 654 54 54
Fax: +41 32 654 54 00
How do I find an authorized Breitling dealer?
There is a directory of authorized Breitling dealers on Breitling’s official Web site.
Where can I get the latest Breitling catalog (the Chronolog)?
Contact an authorized dealer or Breitling directly.
Where can I find a Breitling forum online?
You will find the most active Breitling Forum with the most knowledgeable enthusiasts at the TimeZone.com Breitling Forum.
Back to Index
| History and Miscellaneous
What is the history of Breitling?
The “G. Leon Breitling” firm was founded in Saint-Imier, Switzerland in 1884 by Leon Breitling. Leon Breitling started out inventing and creating complicated watches, chronographs and special measuring instruments. He moved his company to La Chaux-de-Fonds in 1892 where he built a full-fledged factory. At this time, the company was renamed to “Leon G. Breitling S.A. Montbrillant Watch Manufactory” and had 60 employees.
After much success, Leon Breitling passed away in 1914 and his son Gaston inherited the business. Gaston knew that Breitling’s specialty and biggest seller was the chronograph, and he set out to develop this market further. His first big accomplishment, the Vitesse chronograph, was enthusiastically used by police authorities, the military and governments.
During World War I, Gaston grew the brand outside of the closed European markets. He continued to invent new chronograph models with special time-event scales on the dials. Gaston Breitling died in 1927 and the Breitling firm was without leadership until 1932 when his son Willy stepped in.
Willy Breitling developed the aircraft chronograph and made Breitling famous worldwide. Breitling signed a contract with the British Air Ministry and started making chronographs for the Royal Air Force. People associate Breitling with aviation largely because of this contract and the success it brought the company. Many more contracts were subsequentially signed with aircraft manufacturers and airlines. Pilots took notice and acknowledged the great quality of Breitling’s chronographs.
Willy Breitling was also responsible for one of Breitling’s most famous inventions, the slide rule bezel. The first
watch to include this feature was the Chronomat. By 1946, Breitling manufactured about 250 different models in six
categories. Obviously, they included their famous chronographs. In addition, Breitling now also offered waterproof
In 1952, Willy moved the company’s headquarters to Geneva, while production remained in La Chaux-de-Fonds. The
company had now abandoned in-house movement manufacturing and relied on suppliers such as Venus. This saved cost
and allowed Breitling to focus on its main strength: designing and refining their special dials.
The same year also saw the introduction of Breitling’s most famous model, the Navitimer. Flight and rally
calculations could be made with this wrist-worn navigational instrument and it was a huge hit with pilots around
the world. The famous Cosmonaute, a 24-hour dial Navitimer, was introduced in 1962. It went into space on Lt. Commander Scott Carpenter’s wrist.
Time magazine wrote of the Navitimer in 1957: “The firm of Leon Breitling introduces a new stopwatch that
is intended for engineers and technicians, and is equipped with a calculator as well as three hands for time and
speed measurements.” Around the same time, the Super Ocean diver’s watch was introduced. The trendy Top-Time was
introduced in the early 1960s.
In cooperation with Heuer-Leonidas, Hamilton-Buren and Dubois et Depraz, Breitling introduced in 1969 the new
Chronomat. It was an automatically winding chronograph, something that took 500,000 Swiss francs to construct. This
movement, marketed by Breitling as Caliber 11, was nothing short of a Swiss watch industry sensation.
As the quartz revolution began, Breitling reluctantly introduced a quartz version of the Chronomat in 1975. It was
manufactured alongside their mechanical varieties. A quartz Navitimer followed the next year. Adjusting to the new
quartz technology was a difficult, if not impossible, task for Breitling and in 1979 the Breitling firm was voluntarily
closed by Willy Breitling. He had become ill and passed away the same year. The inventory went to the family, but Ron Geweniger of Chicago purchased half of it.
100 years of watchmaking and Breitling tradition was not about to vanish off the face of the Earth, however. In
1979, the Breitling name was taken over by Ernest Schneider of the Sicura firm in Grenchen. Willy Breitling’s two
sons, Gregory and Alain, were too young to take over the business.
Schneider reaffirmed to the public that Breitling was worthy of their confidence. He showed them that the original
philosophy was unchanged and that special focus was, as always, given to the flying sports. A pilot himself,
Schneider conferred with other pilots and introduced the Jupiter, Pluton and Mars chronographs in 1980. The market
at this time wanted electronic watches, so these watches had quartz movements.
Times were changing again in the early 1980s; the mechanical watch was making a comeback. In 1984, Breitling
introduced its first mechanical chronograph since the death of Willy Breitling. It was, like the 1942 model, to be
called the Chronomat. 1986 saw the comeback of the 1950s-style Navitimer. Watches catering to sailors were also
introduced at this time. Breitling had re-emerged as the indisputable champion of “Instruments for Professionals”.
Today, Breitling continues its involvement in aviation and all the adventures that it entails. The “Breitling
World Cup of Aerobatics” was introduced in 1993 and is recognized by the Federation Aeronatique Internationale
as having the same status as a world championship. Breitling also had enormous success with the Breitling Orbiter 3, the first balloon to fly around the world.
In the year 2000, Breitling inaugurated its new headquarters in Grenchen.
Also see the Milestones section on Breitling’s official Web site.
Who owns Breitling?
Breitling is independently owned by the Schneider family who purchased the name from Willy Breitling in 1979. The
Schneider family is paying close attention to the ideas, values and visions of Leon, Gaston and Willy Breitling.
What is the Chronolog?
The Chronolog is Breitling’s annual catalog of its watches.
When does the new Chronolog come out?
The Chronolog is usually available at authorized dealers in November.
How many watches does Breitling make per year and how many are COSC certified?
Breitling made and COSC certified 148,380 watches in the year 2000, up 20,721 from the previous year. In the
entire watch industry, Breitling ranks #2 in terms of how many watches it certifies. Only Rolex certifies more and
Omega is just slightly behind Breitling at #3.
Did a Breitling watch ever go into space?
Yes, the Breitling Cosmonaute went into space onboard the Aurora 7 on Lt. Commander Scott Carpenter‘s wrist in 1962 during Mercury Mission MA-7.
While Richter’s book mentions the watch “being run through extreme tests by NASA” prior to Carpenter’s mission, other
sources indicate that Breitling made the Cosmonaute for Carpenter and he personally chose to wear it.
In recent history, the Aerospace has been spotted onboard the International Space Station.
What is the best book about Breitling?
Check out “Breitling — The History of a Great Brand of Watches 1884 to Present” by Benno Richter.
The 2nd Edition was published in 2000 by Schiffer. It retails for $49.95 in the US and the
ISBN number is 0-7643-1006-2.
The book contains the history of Breitling and its models, a list
of reference numbers and a price guide. It has many pictures of vintage and newer Breitlings,
as well as some very cool vintage advertisements.
What is the “Breitling Orbiter 3”?
The “Breitling Orbiter 3” was the first balloon to make a complete flight around the world. Breitling funded this
mission and was extensively involved in all aspects of completing it. The Orbiter 3 was piloted by Bertrand Piccard
and Brian Jones, both wearing Breitling Emegency watches throughout their flight. Check out www.orbiterballoon.com for more information (including a book and a CD-ROM).
Piccard and Jones wrote a book entitled “Around the World in 20 Days” about their adventure. The book was published in
1999 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. and retails for $24.95 in the US. The ISBN number is 0-471-37820-8. It is a
fantastic read for anyone interested in aviation or grand adventures in general.
If you are unable to find this title, there is a newer book out with the title “The Greatest Adventure”. This book
was also published in 1999 and the ISBN number is 0-747-27128-3.
The Breitling Orbiter 3 is featured at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Milestones of Flight permanent exhibit. NASA’s Science Question of the Week featured the Breitling Orbiter 3 in March of 1999.
Is there a Breitling screen saver?
Yes, there is a Breitling screen saver on Breitling’s official Web site.
Do real pilots wear Breitlings?
According to Wristwatch Annual 2002, about 5% of Breitling customers are actual pilots. Breitling watches appeal to
many different people. Not all pilots wear Breitlings, and not everyone who wears a Breitling is a pilot. The watches
are popular among aviation fans (including pilots), engineers, public officials, celebrities and anyone who
appreciates a fine watch with a unique design. See What is the history of Breitling? for
information about Breitling’s early and current ties to aviation.
Were any Breitling watches ever issued to the military?
Yes. Reference numbers 618, 619, 640 and 645 were military issue models and specifically modified for military use.
What celebrities wear Breitlings?
Breitling’s watches have been spotted on celebrities such as Jerry Seinfeld, Mel Gibson and Bruce Willis.
In what movies are Breitling watches featured?
Breitling watches can be seen in movies such as “007: Thunderball” (Top Time, Navitimer), “Broken Arrow” (Aerospace),
“The Skulls” (Old Navitimer), “The Negotiator” (Chronomat), “Rush Hour” (Chronomat or Crosswind UTC), “Sixth Sense”
(Chronomat), “Space Cowboys” (Old Navitimer), “Unbreakable” (Chronomat), “Tomb Raider” (Chronomat) and “Behind Enemy
On TV, Jerry Seinfeld consistently wore Chronomats and Navitimers on his show.
How many models have there been of the Breitling hat?
There have been reports of four different models of the Breitling hat.
What charities are Breitling involved with?
Please see the Winds of Hope Foundation Web site.
Back to Index
What is COSC?
COSC stands for Controle Officiel Suisse des Chronometres and is the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute.
A mechanical chronometer certified movement must be accurate to within -4 to +6 seconds per 24 hours. This amounts
to a 99.99% rate of accuracy. The entire current Breitling line of watches, mechanical and quartz, is being submitted
Are all Breitling watches COSC certified?
Not all old Breitling models are COSC certified, but all watches manufactured in 2000 or later are. This is true
for both mechanical movements and quartz movements.
Is my watch COSC certified?
If it was manufactured in 2000 or later, it definitely is. If it is older, an easy (but not guaranteed) way to find
out is to look for the word “CHRONOMETRE” on the dial or case back. Also, you can check the model number on the case
back. If the fourth character is a “3”, the watch is certified. If not, the character is a “0”. If it is a newer
watch, a COSC certificate was also given to you at the time of purchase (if not, talk to your dealer).
Does Breitling make its own movements?
Breitling stopped making in-house movements in the early 1950s. Since then, it has used movements from a number
of manufacturers such as Venus, Lemania, ETA, Valjoux and Piguet. Kelek (which is owned by Breitling) develops
modules for the base movements, some of which are exclusive to Breitling.
What kind of finishing and modifications go into a Breitling watch movement?
Since Breitling’s acquisition of Kelek, the level of finishing and modifications to their movements has increased
dramatically. For example, a Breitling caliber 13 enhanced by Kelek tested accurate to +1 second per 24 hours
(WatchTime magazine) and is nicely decorated with Geneva Waves and circular graining.
Who is Kelek?
Kelek is a Swiss watch manufacturer founded in 1896 and owned by Breitling. In addition to finishing and modifying
Breitling’s ETA/Valjoux/other base movements to high standards, Kelek develops in-house modules for them. You can
find Kelek’s official Web site at www.kelekwatches.com.
There are reports indicating that Kelek has now been fully integrated with Breitling and its new name is
Who is ETA?
ETA is a Swiss movement manufacturer owned by the Swatch Group. Its history goes back to the year 1793. The vast
majority of Swiss watch manufacturers buy ebauches (raw movements) from ETA. Lower-end manufacturers use the
movements as-is, while better firms such as Breitling modify them to their own specifications and requirements.
ETA owns the Valjoux firm.
For more information, please see ETA’s official Web site.
Who is Valjoux?
Valjoux is a company whose history goes back to the late 1800s. It is well known for its early column-wheel
chronograph movements such as the Valjoux 72. In more recent history, the Valjoux 7750 has been used by
a great variety of watch manufacturers including Breitling. Another common Valjoux movement is the 7751 which,
in addition to the 7750’s time/date/chronograph functions, has day and month indicators, a 24-hour indicator
and a moon phase indicator. Valjoux is owned by ETA.
What is a 2824?
The 2824 is a mechanical self-winding (automatic) time/date movement made by ETA. It is a very rugged and reliable
movement used by many manufacturers. In Breitling form, this movement is accurate enough to pass COSC certification
tests. This movement is the base for Breitling caliber 17 used by the SuperOcean and other models.
What is a 2892?
The 2892 is a mechanical self-winding (automatic) time/date movement made by ETA. It is a reliable and fairly thin
movement considered more refined than the 2824 workhorse. This movement is known for its great accuracy and is used
by many different manufacturers. It can be fitted with a chronograph module.
What is a 7750?
The 7750 is a mechanical self-winding (automatic) time/date/chronograph movement made by Valjoux. It is a rugged,
reliable, accurate and thick chronograph movement. Breitling caliber 13 is based on this movement and has proven
very impressive in accuracy tests at an average of +1 second per 24 hours. Caliber 13 is used in many Chronomat
and Navitimer models as well as in the Avenger.
What is the difference between a mechanical movement and a quartz movement?
In a nutshell: mechanical movements use springs, gears and wheels while quartz movements use batteries and
stepping motors. The mechanical movement dates back hundreds of years and has a very rich history and tradition.
The quartz movement was introduced in a major way in the 1970s and nearly killed the mechanical watch industry.
In the early 1980s, however, there was a mechanical revival and people could once again enjoy the rich history,
tradition, quality and workmanship that go into the mechanical movement.
Some describe the mechanical movement as having a heart and soul — it is alive — while the quartz
movement is a cold piece of electronic circuitry. That is not to say that quartz watches can not be very useful
and accurate tools. Oftentimes, quartz movements are more accurate than even the finest mechanical movements.
Breitling makes both mechanical and quartz watches.
What is SuperQuartz?
SuperQuartz was introduced in Breitling’s 2002 quartz models and is according to the company 10 times more
accurate than standard quartz movements. It is a thermocompensated movement. According to the company,
SuperQuartz is proprietary to Breitling.
What movement is in my Breitling?
The Chronolog lists the different Breitling watches and the calibers used.
What movement is the Breitling caliber XX based on?
This section includes mechanical, electromechanical and quartz movements.
Research in this area is still in progress and the information may be inaccurate.
|B12 (manual/24-hour time/chronograph)
||Lemania 1873 or 1877
|B18 (automatic/time/perpetual/pointer-date/day/month/moon phases/chronograph)
|B19 (automatic/time/bissextile/pointer-date/day/month/moon phases/chronograph)
|B20 (automatic/time/2nd timezone/date/chronograph)
|B35 (automatic/time/date/flyback chronograph)
|B36 (automatic/time/digital + analog chronograph)
|B44 (automatic/time/big date/chronograph)
|B69 (electromechanical/time/date/split-second chronograph)
||Frederic Piguet 1271
Where can I find a picture of a particular Breitling movement?
The Chronolog usually has some good pictures of the movements. Also, try the Unofficial Breitling FAQ Image Gallery.
What does “Cotes de Geneve” or “Geneva Waves” mean?
“Cotes de Geneve” or “Geneva Waves” is a special decorative finishing technique used on watch movements. Take a look
at Jack Freedman’s feature on decorations and finishes for more information.
How accurate should my watch be?
Your new mechanical watch should perform within the COSC requirements of -4 to +6 seconds per 24 hours. If it does not,
you should have it serviced. A vintage watch may be less accurate but still be considered adequate.
How long does it take for the movement to “settle in”?
This period usually lasts a month or two, during which your watch may be less than optimally accurate. Eventually
it will settle in and stabilize at a constant rate of accuracy.
Are the occasional vibrations and noises inside my watch normal?
Yes, what you are feeling and/or hearing is the winding rotor spinning around its axis. The 7750 is especially
well known for this phenomenon.
What is the Aerospace “floating minute hand problem”?
Some Aerospace watches seem to have some “slack” in the minute hand. The hand will move a very small distance if
you shake your watch, for example. Not all Aerospace watches have this problem, and word is that if you have the
problem, it cannot be fixed. It does not cause any accuracy problems. Other manufacturer’s quartz multifunction
watches have had similar problems.
Back to Index
| Cases, Crystals and Dials
What is the size of a particular Breitling watch?
The Chronolog lists the different Breitling watches and their case sizes.
Did the case diameters of Breitling’s watches change in 2002?
The 2002 Chronolog lists case diameters that do not match the pre-2002 Chronologs. While the physical size of the
watches did not change, Breitling’s measurement method did.
Prior to 2002, the listed case size included the 2 o’clock start/stop chronograph pusher. For 2002, it does not.
Thus, a Chronomat with a listed case diameter of 41.50 mm in 2001 is now listed at 39.00 mm.
Can I wear my Breitling while swimming or showering?
That depends on your particular model. A watch that is water resistant to 30 meters is basically splash proof. You
probably do not want to shower with a watch rated at less than 50 meters. For regular surface swimming, a 100 meter
watch should be fine. For any serious diving, you want a watch rated at 200 meters or more. If your watch has a
screw-down crown (and/or chronograph pushers), make sure to screw it down before exposing your watch to water.
Obviously, bracelets and rubber straps are waterproof while luxurious leathers are not.
How tightly should I screw down the crown?
Screw the crown down firmly but do not force it any further once you feel significant resistance.
Why am I having difficulties screwing down the crown?
Push the crown in gently until you feel the first bit of resistance. Then turn it counter-clockwise
(as if you were unscrewing it) until you feel the crown settle into the threads. Only then start screwing it down.
This will ensure proper alignment. The crown should screw in a couple of full turns.
How does a domed crystal compare to a flat crystal?
A domed crystal is generally more shatterproof than a flat crystal. For active use, a domed crystal is preferable.
How does a sapphire crystal compare to a mineral crystal?
Most newer fine watches are fitted with synthetic sapphire crystals. Sapphire is extremely scratch resistant and
this kind of crystal will look like new for years. However, its hardness makes it easier to shatter than mineral
crystals. This is usually only an issue if you wear your watch while engaged in very physical activities.
In that case, you may want to look for a domed mineral crystal. The major drawback of mineral crystals is that they
scratch much easier than sapphire crystals. Some say they also look “cheaper” in the way they reflect light. Others
say they look “classic” on certain watches.
Why does my Breitling’s crystal have a bluish tint to it?
The crystal on your watch is glare-proofed on both the inside and the outside. This practically eliminates
reflections on the crystal and makes the watch legible in all light conditions. The anti-glare coating gives
the crystal the bluish tint and is perfectly normal.
Can Breitling change the dial color of my watch?
Yes. Contact an authorized dealer or Breitling directly. The latest reports
indicate that Breitling charges $195 for this service.
Why does my watch not glow in the dark?
Older watches (10+ years) can lose some of their ability to glow in the dark. The luminous material (usually
tritium or Luminova) can be reapplied, however.
If you have a newer watch which does not appear to glow in the dark, try holding it to a light for several seconds,
then give your eyes several minutes to adjust to the dark. After 15-20 minutes in the dark, you should be able
to read your watch without a problem.
What does the “T” or “L” on either side of “SWISS MADE” mean?
It indicates what type of luminous material is used on the hands and/or markers. “T” stands for tritium and “L”
stands for Luminova.
Back to Index
Should I get a strap or a bracelet for my Breitling?
Yes, definitely. Joking aside, the general opinion is that straps are dressier and bracelets are sportier. That said,
Breitling’s straps are generally sporty and have in fact inspired other manufacturers to make “Breitling style”
straps which mimic the Breitling look (heavy contrasting stitching and thick padding).
Breitling’s straps and bracelets are highly regarded and very well made and comfortable. There are straps for all
activities: rubber for diving/water use, shark for water resistant leather, calf for a classic all-around look,
alligator for exclusivity and many others. Colors range from the basic brown and black to red, blue and green. The
Navitimer and Pilot bracelets are exceptional and are composed of 170 and 120 parts respectively. Breitling
bracelets are available in all stainless steel, 18K gold and stainless steel, all 18K gold, platinum and titanium.
The 18K gold can be had in yellow, rose or white.
- Relatively inexpensive
- Many different looks
- Very comfortable in the cold winter months
- Wears faster
- Leather types can get water damaged
- Can be uncomfortable in hot and humid climates
- Can be more versatile
- Balances the weight of the watch nicely
- More comfortable in hot and humid climates
- More expensive
- Metal can get cold in the winter
Are the gold links on my two-tone bracelet solid gold?
No, they are gold-filled. This means that the core of each link is stainless steel, but a very thick layer of
gold completely surrounds it.
Do I need to buy a new bracelet or strap to attach a UTC Module to my watch?
If you currently have a strap, the answer is yes. If you have a bracelet, it may be possible to get ahold of the
pieces needed to modify it for a UTC Module. Contact an authorized dealer to see if they can help you.
Back to Index
| Pricing, Value and Dealers
What is the retail price of a particular Breitling watch?
Along with the latest Chronolog, you can ask your dealer (or Breitling) for a price list which references the
different models depicted in the Chronolog.
What is a good price for a Breitling?
In the US, discounts of 20-35% are normal from an authorized dealer.
What is the resale value of a Breitling watch?
For an LNIB (Like New In Box) watch, the resale value usually hovers around 50% of the current list price. For a
more complete picture, the book “Breitling — The History of a Great Brand of Watches 1884 to Present” is highly recommended.
Is it cheaper to buy a Breitling overseas?
It can be cheaper to purchase a Breitling from an authorized dealer overseas than from an authorized dealer in the
US. The suggested retail prices are usually lower in Europe, for example. European Union countries will also refund
the VAT (sales tax) upon your departure. However, discounts are generally much lower than in the US. All other things
being equal, you can still save some money if you are able to take advantage of beneficial currency exchange rates.
Is it worthwhile to make the trip just for these savings? Usually not. If you are going on a trip anyway, it could
be worth it. However, there is something to be said for having your dealer nearby in case you need help or service.
Should I buy from an authorized dealer or a gray market dealer?
It depends on what your priorities are. For most people, the peace of mind that comes from buying from an authorized
dealer is worth the extra few dollars. For others, it may be worthwhile to take a minor risk and purchase from a
gray market dealer.
You may be able to get an additional 5-15% discount from a gray market dealer, bringing the effective discount to
30-45% or so (exceptions apply). However, Breitling’s International Warranty will not be valid. Be very
careful to check the gray market dealer’s references and return policy, as you will not know if you will be getting
a watch that has been sitting on a shelf for quite some time.
From an authorized dealer, especially if it is local, you can walk into the store and try on different models,
making sure that you buy the right watch for you. Also, you get Breitling’s International Warranty for
one year. There is also something to be said for developing a relationship with your local dealer.
Are Breitling watches overpriced?
As with all products, value is in the eye of the buyer. Many people find that Breitling’s watches (and watches by
other fine manufacturers) are well worth the price. Different people purchase watches for different reasons, and
Breitling has models for all of them; from pure tool watches such as the Aerospace, SuperOcean Professional and
Chronomat Blackbird to jewelry watches such as the Callisto. The Navitimer with its classic, some say romantic,
looks and utilitarian slide rule bezel lands somewhere in between.
A $20 plastic quartz watch keeps better time than most fine mechanical watches, but anyone comparing the two is
missing the point entirely.
Back to Index
How often should I service my Breitling?
A mechanical movement should get routine maintenance every four to five years. If you use your watch in the water,
it is a good idea to have it checked for water resistancy every year or two.
What kind of service can I expect from Breitling?
Breitling’s service is frequently commended on the Breitling forum. Breitling USA is known for being
friendly and responsive. There have been some reports of mishandled cases that have required the customer
to return the watch once or even twice, but this appears to be very infrequent.
What is the turn-around time for Breitling service?
Warranty service is prioritized by Breitling USA and usually takes two to three weeks (total turn-around time).
Routine service (recommended every four to five years) can take somewhat longer.
Is the warranty valid in the US if I bought the watch overseas?
Yes, Breitling gives you an international warranty. Make sure to enclose your International Warranty Card when you
send you watch in for service.
What is the best way to ship my watch to Breitling for service?
Most people recommend using the United States Postal Service (USPS). Send the watch fully insured via Registered
Can Breitling alter the finish of my watch?
Yes, several members of the Breitling forum have had their case finish altered from, for example,
polished to brushed. The cost for this is relatively low, usually under $100.
Does Breitling send its customers gifts?
Breitling USA has been known to send its customers gifts such as chocolates, hats and even leather jackets. This
requires that the customer registers their purchase with the authorized dealer from whom they made the purchase.
Back to Index
Which Breitling should I get?
Breitling makes four lines of watches: Navitimer, Windrider, Professional and Aeromarine. Each line consists of
a number of different models. Breitling’s official Web site covers all of these quite nicely.
Which Breitling you select will depend on your needs and styling preferences. The four lines of watches offer
a great deal of variety.
The Navitimer line consists of classic aviator’s chronographs with slide rule bezels. The Navitimer is only water
resistant to 30 meters and should not be used in water. In Montbrillant form on an alligator strap, the Navitimer
can be quite dressy, while a black dial Old Navitimer on a bracelet is on the sportier side. The Olympus (new for
2002) is perhaps the ultimate Navitimer (outside of limited editions) with its four-year calendar and moonphase
In the Windrider line, you will find the popular Chronomat. This model can be had in an incredible number
of configurations. The Chronomat Blackbird is very popular on the Breitling forum and is the most subdued and stealthy
Chronomat with its matte finish and black dial. Breitling made significant changes to the 2002 Blackbird. The
Chronomat Longitude offers you two additional timezones (three additional timezones with a UTC Module). If you like the
Chronomat look but do not need a chronograph, the Wings model might be for you. In contrast, if you cannot get
enough of chronographs and want a bigger one, the Crosswind offers a 44 mm case. The Crosswind Special has a
big-date complication and a 9-6-3 subdial layout. The Headwind is as large as the Crosswind but trades the
chronograph complication for a day indicator. There are also some special electromechanical models in the
Windrider line, such as the Chrono Jetstream and Chronoracer Rattrapante split-second chronograph.
For some very accurate and functional quartz watches, look no further than the Professional line. A unique watch
in this line is the Emergency with its integrated distress signal transmitter. If you have no need
for an emergency transmitter, the Aerospace offers roughly the same functionality sans transmitter. If you need
a backlit display and louder alarm than the Aerospace can provide, the B-1 is for you.
If you prefer your Breitling to be able to handle lots of water and resist high pressure, take a look at the
rugged watches in the Aeromarine line. The most popular watch in this line is the SuperOcean. In its Professional
guise, it is water resistant to over 1,500 meters or 5,000 feet. If you want a very water resistant and large
titanium chronograph, take a look at the Avenger (300 meters). This line also offers the least expensive yet very
capable mechanical Breitling, the Colt Ocean Automatic (500 meters).
Do not forget to explore the many beautiful vintage Breitling watches available on the used market. Perhaps the
most popular vintage Breitling chronograph is the Premier with its Venus 178 column-wheel chronograph movement.
How does the Colt Ocean compare to the SuperOcean?
For 2002, Breitling dropped the “Ocean” and the watch is now known as the Colt. The price was increased by $200 to
$1,375 (on a Diver Pro strap) and is now only $250 less than a SuperOcean. This makes it seem like less of a deal
than the previous model.
Several changes were made to the dial, including the use of stick hour markers and an applied Breitling logo. The
watch retains its water resistance rating of 500 meters vs. the SuperOcean’s 1,000 meters. The Colt’s sapphire crystal
remains flat while the SuperOcean’s crystal is domed. The Colt’s case diameter is 38 mm and it is 13.20 mm high.
Compared to the SuperOcean’s 41.50 mm diameter and 15.00 mm height, the Colt appears small and has less of a
wrist-presence. The SuperOcean is fitted with an automatic helium escape valve while the Colt has none.
For all practical purposes, the Colt might suffice. It will most likely be able to handle any diving activity
you can throw at it. The smaller size of the Colt could even be an advantage while engaged in physical activities.
However, the relatively small price difference, the SuperOcean’s domed crystal, higher depth rating and helium
escape valve make it hard not to recommend the more respected SuperOcean over the Colt.
Both models use a chronometer certified Breitling caliber 17 (ETA 2824 base) and are known to be rugged and accurate.
How does the SuperOcean compare to the SuperOcean Professional?
The Professional model differs from the regular SuperOcean in two major ways; the case (and optional matching bracelet)
are completely matte finished, and it is rated to 1,524 meters instead of 1,000 meters. Another detail is that the
Professional has an applied Breitling logo while the regular SuperOcean’s logo is painted onto the dial.
The regular SuperOcean is highly polished and shiny. It can also be had in a precious metal case in either
18K yellow or white gold, with a special protective inner titanium canister to maintain its depth rating.
The price difference between the SuperOcean and the SuperOcean Professional is a relatively low $100 (2002).
How does the Aerospace compare to the B-1?
The differences between these two models are many, yet they are frequently compared. The B-1 is only $250 more than
the Aerospace but offers some nice additional functionality.
The B-1’s case (and optional bracelet) is made of all stainless steel while the Aerospace is titanium. This makes
for a huge weight difference; the B-1 is about three times as heavy as the Aerospace. The B-1’s case diameter
is 43.20 mm and its height is a rather imposing 16.50 mm. In stark contrast, the case diameter of the Aerospace is
40.00 mm and its height is only 9.80 mm.
From this, you might suspect that the B-1’s depth rating would be the higher one. This is not the case; the B-1
is rated at only 50 meters while the Aerospace is rated at 100 meters. This is largely due to the fact that the
B-1 is fitted with a slide rule bezel. The Aerospace has a standard 60-minute timing bezel. Oddly, the B-1’s case
back is screwed in and the Aerospace’s back is pressure fitted.
A major functional difference is that the B-1’s alarm is known to be much louder than the Aerospace’s.
The Aerospace has been criticized for not being audible enough in noisy environments. Also, the B-1 is equipped
with night vision goggle (NVG) compatible display backlighting while the Aerospace has no backlighting at all.
Both models utilize Breitling’s new SuperQuartz movements (2002) with analog and digital 12/24-hour time displays
and battery end of life (EOL) indicators. The Aerospace’s battery life is estimated at three to four years; a year
longer than the B-1’s.
The B-1 provides some additional functionality over the Aerospace. It features a perpetual (digital) calendar while
the Aerospace’s calendar is only programmed for four years. Both models feature a second timezone but the B-1 also
indicates UTC (Universal Time Coordinated). The B-1 has a separate alarm function for the second timezone while
the Aerospace features only a single alarm. Both models have countdown timers and chronograph functions. However,
the B-1’s chronograph has a split seconds feature. The one function the Aerospace has and the B-1 does not is
a digital minute repeater. Both models can be fitted with a UTC Module for an additional timezone.
If you want a sleek, visually versatile and light weight watch, go with the Aerospace. But if you prefer a heavy and
pure tool watch, the B-1 is probably the better choice.
How does Breitling compare to Rolex and Omega?
While this is the subject of some debate, most watch afficionados who are able to put their own styling preferences
and other biases aside agree that they all belong in the Luxury group. (See Chronocentric’s great Guide to Major Watch Brands.)
From a pure quality, fit and finish standpoint, the three brands are for the most part equal. It is dangerous
to generalize too much, however, since each brand has some lesser models as well as some exceptional ones.
Some commonly compared models are:
- Breitling SuperOcean Professional, Omega Seamaster Professional and Rolex Sea-Dweller
- Breitling Chronomat/Navitimer, Omega Speedmaster Professional and Rolex Daytona
It is hard to say that any brand is “better” than another in this group. Breitling has a very diverse line of
watches and makes excellent cases, dials, bracelets and straps. It is a very innovative and progressive company with
some interesting complications developed by Kelek. The Navitimer is a historically important model. Omega has
perhaps an even more diverse offering (ranging from true dress watches to quartz tool watches) and also has a
historically important model, the Speedmaster Professional. Rolex’s strength is in its conservative approach,
constantly refining its existing models and staying away from complicated movements. It also makes all of its
movements in-house. The Oyster case is historically important, and models such as the Explorer and Submariner have
a lot of history.
Each of the three brands has its avid fans, and many are fans of more than just one. Go for the model that offers
you the functionality and styling you desire; whether it is Breitling, Omega or Rolex is probably less important.
How does the SuperOcean Professional compare to the Omega Seamaster Professional?
While these two models are priced similarly, there are significant differences. The Breitling screams “tool watch” and
truly appears to be made for tough use. The Omega is thinner, more elegant and more versatile with its combination
polished and brushed finish.
The Breitling is rated at 1,524 meters and has an automatic helium escape valve. The Omega is rated at 300 meters and
its helium escape valve is operated manually via a crown at 10 o’clock. The Breitling’s timing bezel is easy to use
even when wet thanks to its rider tabs at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock. The bezel on the Omega can be hard to turn.
Opinions vary whether it is easier to turn when wet or dry. There have been complaints about the low luminosity
level of the Breitling. The Omega is known to glow brightly all night. Both models have domed sapphire crystals.
The Breitling is anti-glare coated on both sides while the Omega has coating only on the inside. The inside-only
coating can be an advantage if you want to avoid scratches while engaged in physical activities. However, the lack
of outside coating can cause severe glare in some lighting conditions.
The case diameter of the Breitling is 41.50 mm and the height is 15.00 mm. The Omega has a diameter of 39.3 mm and
a height of 11.00 mm. The Breitling can only be had in stainless steel while the Omega is available in
stainless steel, titanium, two-tone and gold versions.
The ETA 2824 in the Breitling is considered very rugged and reliable, if somewhat pedestrian. The thinner ETA 2892
in the Omega is considered the “finer” of the two and is used in many dress watches. Both models are chronometer
certified and are known to be very accurate.
In a nutshell, both of these models are very capable and your choice should probably depend mostly on your styling
preferences. The Breitling has the functional edge while the Omega can be worn with a business suit as well as a
How does the SuperOcean Professional compare to the Rolex Sea-Dweller?
The biggest difference between these two models is perhaps the price, although the Rolex no doubt is the true
classic. The Rolex costs more than twice as much as the Breitling. Nevertheless, people often compare these two
watches when looking for a diver’s watch.
Both watches are pure tools. There is nothing superflous about either model. Pure, rugged and reliable function. The
Breitling is water resistant to 1,524 meters and the Rolex is rated at 1,220 meters. Both have automatic helium
escape valves. The Breitling’s domed sapphire crystal is anti-glare coated on both sides while the Rolex has
a flat sapphire crystal without coating. The Breitling is 41.50 mm in diameter and 15.00 mm high. The diameter of
the Rolex is 40 mm and its height is 15 mm. Both the Breitling and the Rolex are available in matte finished
stainless steel only.
The Rolex has the upper hand as far as the movements go. It uses the in-house caliber 3135 which no doubt
commands greater respect than the ETA 2824 in the Breitling. That is not to say that the finely finished ETA will
not last a lifetime; with proper servicing it very well may. The Breitling wins the bracelet contest; the Oyster
bracelet on the Rolex has been critiqued for being somewhat flimsy and light weight.
Few, if any, watches can compete with what many would call the ultimate dive watch — the Sea-Dweller. However, the
Breitling is an exceptional dive watch which will serve you well over a lifetime of extreme activities. And it is
a fantastic value in comparison. In your daily diving life, either watch will serve you equally well.
How does the B-1 compare to the Omega Speedmaster X-33?
These two tool watches are perhaps the ultimate quartz watches in terms of real-world functionality and usability.
The Breitling was developed in cooperation with pilots and the Omega was developed in cooperation with both
pilots and astronauts.
The Breitling is made of all stainless steel (also available in gold) while the Omega is all titanium. As expected,
this makes the Breitling the heavier watch. Both watches can be had with bracelets or straps. The case diameter of
the Breitling is 43.20 mm and it is 16.50 mm thick. The Omega’s diameter is similar at 42.25 mm and its height is
15 mm. The Breitling’s flat crystal is anti-glare coated on both sides while the Omega’s domed crystal has coating
on the inside only. The Breitling is water resistant to 50 meters and the Omega to 30 meters. In real life, this
means that you can probably shower with the Breitling while the Omega is splash-proof and safe to wear while washing
your hands. The Breitling is fitted with a slide rule bezel; the Omega has a 60-minute timing bezel. Both models have
special cases increasing the volume of the alarm. A 24-hour UTC Module is available for the Breitling.
A SuperQuartz movement powers the Breitling while the Omega is fitted with the caliber 1666 multifunction quartz
movement. The Breitling’s battery will last two to three years and the Omega’s battery is expected to last about
26 months. Both watches feature the following functions: 12/24-hour digital and analog time, calendar, alarm, UTC time,
split second chronograph, countdown timer and backlighting. In addition, the Breitling features a second timezone with
independent alarm. The Omega features instead a UTC alarm, mission elapsed time and mission elapsed alarm.
Both of these wrist instruments have avid fans. Real pilots are known to use them. The Omega goes into space on
a fairly regular basis. Much thought and research went into the design of both watches. If you are serious about
your watch and intend to use it in-flight, you need to try both in real life and determine which one is more
intuitive to you. Some quality control problems have been reported with the Omega on the forums; the Breitling has an
excellent track record. A new version of the Omega addressing its problems is reportedly due soon.
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Where can I find a picture of a particular Breitling watch?
In addition to the pictures in the Chronolog, you can find tons of great pictures of owners’ watches in the
Unofficial Breitling FAQ Image Gallery.
What does the model number on my watch mean?
A typical model number looks like this: A17340. The first character, “A“, indicates the material of
which the watch case is made:
||All stainless steel
||Stainless steel and gold (gold rider tabs only)
||Stainless steel and gold (full gold bezel)
||Titanium and gold
The next two characters, “17“, indicate the Breitling caliber number. In this case, the watch is fitted with
a B17 caliber. The fourth character, “3“, indicates that the movement is COSC certified. If this character
reads “0“, the movement is not certified. Finally, the last two characters, “40“, are model
specific. Using the caliber number and the last two digits, the model can be determined. In this case, the watch
is a SuperOcean.
How many watches of a particular model were made?
Breitling does not release these numbers.
How do I use the slide rule on my Navitimer?
From the 2001 Chronolog:
Multiplying two numbers:
To multiply 7 by 12, the figure 12 on the outer scale is placed opposite the “10” mark on the inner scale.
The result is displayed opposite the figure 7 on the inner scale, namely 84.
Dividing two numbers:
To divide 120 by 4, one need only place the figure 12 (=120) on the outer scale opposite the figure 40 (=4) on
the inner scale. The result can be read off opposite the “10” mark on the inner scale, namely 30.
What are the two 60-minute subdials on the TwinSixty/Hercules for?
One is a regular 60-minute chronograph totalizer with a single minute hand. The other, more special totalizer, has both
a minute hand and an hour hand like a regular watch. This allows for instant and accurate readings.
What is a UTC Module?
A UTC Module is a small separate quartz watch that is attached to an existing Breitling watch such as a Chronomat or
an Aerospace. The UTC Module indicates a second timezone. It requires a special strap or bracelet.
Does the Breitling Emergency really work?
Yes, it transmits on the 121.5 MHz aircraft emergency frequency (243 MHz for military personnel). There have been
reports of rescues initiated by users of the Breitling Emergency. Non-aviation emergency initiated transmissions
are discouraged by heavy fines.
Can only pilots purchase the Breitling Emergency?
This used to be the case in the US. However, with the introduction of the 2002 model, non-pilots can purchase
the Emergency as well. It does have to be registered by submitting your driver’s license number.
What is the Breitling Premier?
The original Breitling Premier was made between the 1930s and 1960s. Breitling made the watch in stainless steel and
in gold. The Premier is quite collectible today although its value is not astronomical. A stainless steel Premier
in decent condition generally fetches between $600 and $1,000 while a solid gold model in excellent condition has
a value in the neighborhood of $3,000.
The Premier used chronograph calibers from Venus. The caliber 150 and the caliber 178 (column-wheel) are two of them.
A modern version of the Premier, reminiscent of the original, was made between 1996 and 1999. It used an ETA 2892
base with a chronograph module. It was available with a silver or black dial, with or without a date function. A
special, larger Premier called the Grand Premier was manufactured in 1999.
Is it “Montbrillant” or “Montbrilliant”?
However brilliant this watch may be, the name is still Montbrillant (only one “i”).
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