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Founded by Leon Breitling in 1884 in Saint-Imier, Switzerland, Brietling has a well-earned reputation as a manufacturer of precision complicated watches. The watch is often referred to as the Rolex for thinking people, and has a long history in aviation, from the aircraft chronograph used by the British Royal Air Force in the '30s to the recent Breitling-sponsored balloon circumnavigation of the earth in 1999.

Breitling watches have even been to space, with Scott Carpenter wearing one during the Aurora 7 mercury mission in 1962. It has also been spotted on the wrists of several of the visitors to the ISS.

One of the most recognizable features on a Breitling watch is the bezel, the part surrounding the crystal. The company developed the slide-rule bezel to aid pilots in determining fuel consumption and other navigational calculations. Even though the slide rule itself has been superceded by the pocket calculator, one can still buy a Breitling Chronomat with a slide-rule bezel today. The non-slide rule models have a distinctive timer bezel of the type used by divers, with large lugs and prominent quarter-dial markers.

The most tech-laden model is the Emergency Professional. It has a built-in emergency aviation beacon built into it. In order to buy one, you have to sign an agreement that they keep on file stating that you understand the ramifications of setting it off. The watch is available in two versions. One has an analog face with a digital readout subwindow that displays multiple secondary functions including stopwatch, day and date, and second time zone. The other has a standard analog face with chronograph subdials and a date window.

Thanks to www.breitling.com

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