Breitling vs. OMEGA: Choosing the Right Brand for You

Breitling vs. OMEGA: Choosing the Right Brand for You

Breitling and OMEGA have each had a prominent presence in the watch industry for over a century and have risen to the top as two of the most highly regarded watch manufacturers on the market today. In more recent years, the brands have developed their own unique places in the watch world. However, they have similar origins. Both companies began in the 1800’s, OMEGA in 1848 and Breitling a few decades later in 1884.  They each started with a small workshop in Switzerland. In the first several decades of business, Breitling and OMEGA lost their original founders, Leon Breitling and Louis Brandt respectively, and the companies were left in the hands of their sons.

An image of a man's hand holding a Breitling chronograph

A Breitling Chronograph

Each of the sons saw promise in their fathers’ work. As they took the businesses into a new century, they worked tirelessly to expand their respective operations and offerings. Brandt’s sons focused on making their own parts, launched their first mass-produced caliber, and created the first minute-repeating timepiece. They also began establishing relationships with sporting events, serving as the official timekeeper. Meanwhile, Breitling’s son took note of the advancements in aviation. He dedicated his efforts to developing tools for pilots, launching the first ever Breitling chronograph wristwatch.

Breitling and OMEGA: The Early Years

1932 marked a significant year for each of the brands. OMEGA began its now longstanding partnership with the Olympic Games by serving as the sole timekeeper for the summer games in Los Angeles. Breitling also secured two key partnerships that year with the Royal Air Force and United States Army. These relationships helped to solidify Breitling’s place as an authority in the world of aviation.

a trio of speedmaster watches on slate

A trio of Speedmasters

The 1960’s were a history-making decade for both Breitling and OMEGA. In 1962, OMEGA launched its first timepiece into space. Astronaut Wally Schirra wore a Speedmaster on his Mercury Sigma 7 mission. This preceded a significant endorsement from NASA just three years later. This endorsement made the Speedmaster the official chronograph for American space missions. Then, in 1969, the OMEGA Speedmaster made its first journey to the moon on the wrist of Neil Armstrong. 1969 was also an important year for Breitling. That year, the brand made one of its most groundbreaking horological advancements. It invented the self-winding chronograph movement as part of Project 99 in tandem with Heuer, Buren, and Dubois-Depraz. This was a monumental achievement not only for the brand but also for the watch industry as whole.

Breitling and OMEGA: Recent History

In more recent decades, the Breitling and OMEGA brands have continued to establish themselves as authorities in each of their respective areas within the watch industry. During the 1980’s and 90’s, Breitling debuted some of their most iconic models. Breitling’s Chronomat debuted in 1984 and later, the Emergency, in 1995. In the 1990’s, OMEGA soared into the pop culture scene when Pierce Brosnan sported one of their watches in the film GoldenEye. This made the brand the official watch of James Bond.

It’s fascinating to see two brands emerge from such similar beginnings, carve different paths, and establish themselves as distinct brands within the watch industry. As they grow and evolve in the years to come, there’s no question they’ll continue to reinforce their reputations as innovators while remaining uniquely Breitling and OMEGA.

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