Breitling unveiled the second collection featuring their in-house calibre 01:
the legendary Navitimer.
Founded in 1884 by Leon Breitling in St. Imier (52 years after Longines), the Breitling factory was relocated to La Chaux-de-Fonds in 1892. Breitling claims two inventions that determine the configuration of the mechanical chronograph as we know it today:
- the independent pusher (1923), which replaced the pusher that was formerly integrated in the crown
- the reset pusher (1934), which allows to measure several successive times intervals
According to Joël Pynson, editor of Invenit fecit.com, the G. Leon Breitling SA manufacture never made their own movements. They were nevertheless experts of the chronograph and they brought their own improvements and innovations to watches. The rotating slide rule –which Breitling was probably was not the pioneer of– was introduced on the Venus calibre-based Chronomat unveiled in 1941. This model will be followed by the Navitimer in 1952.
In collaboration with Hamilton-Büren, Dubois-Dépraz and Heuer-Leonidas, Breitling developed the Calibre 11 Chrono-Matic (19 800 a/h or 2.75 Hz), a modular chronograph unveiled in 1969 that was superseded by Calibre 12 (21,600 a/h or 3 Hz).
In 1979, given the disastrous consequences of the “quartz crisis”, Willy Breitling was forced to close the business. Ernest Schneider, a pilot and owner of the Sicura brand took over the company and established Breitling Watches Ltd, in Grenchen.
Breitling reintroduced in 1984 the first mechanical chronograph since the death of Willy Breitling. Mounted on the reliable base Valjoux 7750, this new Chronomat was a great success and enabled the brand to strengthen its image of Instruments for professionals.
In 1997 Breitling absorbed Kelek, a developer and supplier of modular movement founded in 1896. Kelek had many common features with Dubois-Dépraz, were most of their developments ended. Under the Schneider family, Kelek became Breitling Chronométrie. Ignoring the paradox of Sisyphus , Breitling invested heavily in the development, manufacturing and fine-tuning of a mechanical chronograph from scratch.
Unveiled at Baselworld 2009, the B01 is the first mechanical chronograph in the history of Breitling where the company had complete control over the design, development and manufacturing processes. This mechanical base has a vertical clutch, which avoids any jolt when activating the chronograph wheel via the column-wheel. Beating at 28,800 a/h (4 Hz), this calibre boasts a power reserve beyond 70 hours. The German watch press, much appreciated for its independence, lauded the calibre B01 after a thorough analysis.
Last year, Breitling did put together some 25,000 units of the B01. The factory is now entering the industrialization phase of this caliber, and after a multi-million investment in the industrial estate of La Chaux-de-Fonds, production output will be of 50,000 movements per year. In prevision of the cessation of delivery of ETA blanks, Breitling has worked hard to have their in-house calibre. Moreover, the design of this calibre base allows for the development of other complications, which we look forward to discovering in the future.
Mike Dished published information regarding pricing on Watchtime.com.
The stainless steel limited edition of 2000 pieces will be sold USD 7,475 on leather and USD 8,715 on matching bracelet. The 18kt pink gold version will be in 200 pieces only, each sold at USD 17,705.
The history of Breitling is an authorized reproduction of the original article from ZeWhiteRabbit.com: De futurs calibres Breitling en perspective (Some Future Breitling Calibres in Sight).
You can find out more about the Navitimer calibre 01 on their micro-site.