Breitling Orbiter 3 ballon over the Swiss alps


Since the reliable onboard clocks produced by the HUIT Aviation Department and favored by Air Forces in the late 1930s, instruments for professionals has always been at the heart of Breitling DNA.

In 1979, Willy Breitling entrusts Breitling's future to visionary entrepreneur and aviation amateur, Ernest Schneider, later followed by his son Theodore Schneider in 1994.

While ensuring the continuity of the Brand's heritage with iconic watches like the Navitimer, they open the door to the latest techno­logical advances and develop multi-functional instruments intended for explorers and professionals.


In 1985, Breitling introduces the Aerospace.

This innovative multi-function quartz chronograph is equipped with the latest generation of Swiss technology including a double display – analog and digital – and two LCD (liquid crystal display) screens.

But what makes the Aerospace unique is its highly simple and logical control system.

All its functions – hours/minutes/seconds display, chronograph timing to 1⁄100 second, alarm, countdown, second time zone, calendar, etc. – are accessible and activated by simply turning, pressing or pulling its single crown.

This gives the Aerospace an intuitive and unprecedented simplicity of use combined with a sleek and understated design.

Another feature that attracted a great deal of attention is its case made of titanium, a favorite metal in aviation circles, which offers both maximum strength and lightness.

And as a nod to the successful Chronomat launched a year before, the bezel retains the signature rider tabs.


In 1995, Breitling comes up with what will soon become the ultimate wrist-worn rescue instrument for any adventurer: The Emergency.

The Emergency is a high-tech gem that integrates in its 43mm titanium case a micro transmitter enabling to send signals onto the international air distress frequency (121.5Mhz).

To develop the micro transmitter and the specific integrated circuit, Breitling worked closely with Dassault Electronique, the specialized division of the famous French aircraft builder.

In case of emergency, the user unscrews the main antenna’s safety cap (on the lower right part of the case) and deploys the antenna to its maximum length. The auxiliary antenna, located on the other side of the case, allows the transmitter’s radiated power to be increased.

The signal range depends mainly on the nature of the terrain, the location of the watch and the altitude of the search plane.

For instance, at the top of a mountain, it can be as great as 400 km for an aircraft flying at 33000ft/10000m while on a flat terrain or on a boat, it varies from 36 km for an aircraft flying at 3000ft/900m to 160 km for an aircraft flying at 20000ft/6000m.

Throughout its development, the Emergency underwent countless tests in the laboratory and in real-life situations, under a wide variety of conditions.

It has also been largely tested by various search and rescue organizations and armed forces.

In December 1995, it proves its effectiveness in the field during a search and rescue exercise in Hong Kong conducted by the members of the Asia-Pacific region (Royal Air Force, Royal Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, Japanese Maritime Safety Agency, Government Flying Service of Hong Kong).

And in 1997, it saves the lives of thirteen crew members from the “Mata-Rangi” a reed boat that had sailed for Australia from Easter Island and was blown off course by a storm to a location 1800 mile off the coast of Chile.

Subsequently, it is also used by the world’s most famous jet teams including the Frecce Tricolori, the Patrouille Suisse and the Blue Angels.


In 1999, the Breitling Emergency completes the first-ever non-stop round-the-world balloon flight on the wrists of Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones aboard the Breitling Orbiter 3 balloon.

This amazing journey starts on Monday March 1st, 1999, when the Breitling Orbiter 3 balloon lifts off from Château-d’Oex in the Swiss Alps, taking advantage of the perfect “weather window”.

The balloon first travels southwest to catch the jet stream above Morocco. Once it reaches longitude 9°27‘W, which is used as its starting meridian, it turns straight east to begin its journey around the world.

7 days later, on March 8th, the balloon arrives over India, before starting its flight over the Pacific on March 11th.

On March 17th, it goes across Guatemala and continues over the Atlantic.

On Saturday March 20th, at 9:54 a.m. GMT, the Breitling Orbiter 3 crosses its starting meridian in the skies of Mauritania, permanently adding its name to the annals of aviation history.

The next day, it lands in the Egyptian desert.

In 2000, the Breitling Orbiter 3’s capsule becomes part of the collections of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., the world’s most prestigious aviation museum.

It finds a place of honor among the Milestones of Flight exhibit containing the machines involved in the most exciting episodes of the conquest of the skies, next to the Wright brothers’ plane, Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, Chuck Yeager’s X-1 and the Apollo 11 capsule.


To improve the reliability of the rescue signal and help first responders to better coordinate search & rescue operations anywhere on the planet, Breitling improves its Emergency and makes it’s the world’s first and only wristwatch with a built-in double frequency personal locator beacon (PCB).

Not only operating at 121.5Mhz, the upgraded micro transmitter of the Emergency II is now sending alert signals at the more reliable 406Mhz frequency that allows enhanced security and provide more comprehensive information to reduce the number of false alarms.

The 121.5MHz signal is nonetheless still received on land, by ships at sea and by airborne aircraft, and remains the most efficient and reliable system for homing in on victims. Distress radio beacons must thus be of the dual frequency type in order to guarantee accurate homing.

2015 – EXOSPACE B55

A few years later, in 2015, Breitling brings its very own interpretation of the connected watch with the Exospace B55.

It capitalizes on both watch and smartphone strengths by allowing the smartphone to act as a remote control for the watch, for instance for quick updates of the functions or adjust settings like time-setting, timezones, alarm, chronograph functions etc.

But that’s not all, it also works the other way around!

The user can directly upload watch data like chronograph measurements of flight times, split times, lap times, etc. to the phone and benefit from its larger screen but also enhanced storage capacity as well as sharing capacities for instance via email or other connected apps.

With the Exospace B55 Yachting launched in 2018, Breitling extends its iconic smart instrument initially tailored for pilots to the world of sailing and proves it remains the brand of Instruments for Professionals.


Designed to be both a lightweight watch for athletes and a casual, everyday sports chronograph, the Endurance Pro perfectly blends high precision & innovative technology with a vibrant & colorful design.

It is the ultimate athleisure watch.

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