Usually associated with the world of aviation and readily so, Breitling has spread its wings over the last two years to go wherever its action-packed models take it: land, sea and, of course, the oh-so-familiar skies.
The word ‘Breitling’ has long conjured up images of aircraft and aerobatics. This is hardly surprising, given that the brand was involved in the first functional development of the chronograph in the 1910s, and went on to successively release the Chronomat in 1942 followed by the Navitimer 10 years later. In other words, two models that marked the history of aviation thanks to their integrated slide rule. In the last two years, Georges Kern has encouraged Breitling to spread its wings. “We occupied a niche market, particularly as far as aviation was concerned,” he explains when evoking the house’s new strategy. “But Breitling – one of the last independent Swiss watchmaking brands – has an incredible history of creativity and innovation that dates back to 1884 and goes far beyond the scope of pilot’s watches.”
Building on its legitimate assets and naturally bringing them together, Breitling set off to conquer the world supported by its ‘squads’ of outstanding figures in a range of disciplines that include surfing (for the sea), exploration (for the land), and jets (for the sky). Wherever a robust, precise and reliable watch is needed, Breitling wants to feature as a must-have. This objective has been achieved: the brand and its historic selling points are convincing, which is what creates that vintage touch that is so perfect for traditional collections. And to demonstrate that although aesthetics are important, watchmaking principles are equally prized, the house has abandoned any leanings towards electronic movements, with the exception of its professional timepieces, including the famous Emergency watches, which have literally saved lives.
Form and function
The recent Premier Norton Edition is an excellent example of this new terrain-led approach. Inspired by a piece from the 1940s, it is in keeping with a spirit that reflects ‘everyday elegance’. And because style and adventure go hand-in-hand at Breitling, the chronograph version in this range has been chosen to extend the partnership between Breitling and British motorcycle manufacturer Norton. Speaking of class, it can come as no surprise that Breitling and Norton, founded in 1884 and 1898 respectively, are two of James Bond’s favourite brands; the former appeared on 007’s wrist in Thunderball (1965), while the latter roared forth in Spectre (2015). In terms of power, this chronograph is driven by the flawless manufacture B01 calibre, which is covered by a reverse panda bicompax dial. It is worn to best effect atop a limited-edition Norton Commando 961 Café Racer MKII Breitling motorcycle.