The characteristic Breitling watch is much larger than the standard face, in part to display the many functions available on most of them. The large face provides better visibility, of course but it is obvious that most of these functions would not be used in day-to-day living conditions. The watch itself has become a luxury status symbol and is widely copied and marketed in the replica market. The primary intent in the production of the watch was as a tool used by aviators. These watches contain features, which might prove helpful to people in this occupation.
Other models have an automatic winding mechanism, which has no electronic components. Additional features found in many Breitling watches are a date display, moon phase, split second and the flyback function.
The manufacturing of all Breitling watches is done in the city of La Chaux-de-Fonds where so many other products related to Swiss watches are produced. Breitling’s history goes back to 1884, but the product most associated with the Breitling is more properly classified as a wristwatch chronograph. The instrument was popular with pilots from the beginning. By 1936, Breitling was named the official supplier for the Royal Air Force. The Chronomat, produced in 1942 contained a circular slide rule.
The expansion of the brand to the U.S. military and the creation of the Navitimer in 1954 containing the first navigation computer made the watch the hands on favorite by pilots from that time forward. Astronaut Scott Carpenter was wearing a Breitling Cosmonaught chronograph during his Aurora 7 orbital flight. 1969 saw the introduction by Breitling of the world’s first self-winding chronograph, which revolutionized the entire Swiss watch industry. In 1984 Breitling reintroduced the Chronomat, which became Breitling’s best selling model, a position it retains today. Another popular model, the Aerospace was launched in 1985.
The Breitling Emergency version has been credited with the life saving feature of a radio transmitter broadcasting on the distress frequency of 121.5 MHz. This feature can be used as a ELT-type beacon. For military use, the Breitling can be equipped with a transmitter which broadcasts on the military frequency. After 2009, the Satellite system will no longer the frequency, although the signal was never strong enough to receive signals from the miniaturized transmitter.
Two British pilots activated their Breitling Emergency watches transmitters after their helicopter crashed in Antarctic waters. They were successfully rescued by pilots homing in on their transmitter signals.
Those who do not hold a pilot’s license can own the Breitling Emergency only by signing an agreement which states they will bear all costs of a rescue mission should their emergency beacon be accidentally triggered.
Breitling manufactures both quartz models such as the Aeromarine Colt and mechanical steel cased models such as the Breitling Bentley Motors model featuring a 38 jewel self-winding movement which is priced at over 00. There are also Breitling models in titanium and gold, although they are somewhat less expensive than those with the self-winding movement.
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