Breitling vs. Rolex: Comparing two Elite Brands

Breitling vs. Rolex: Comparing two Elite Brands

Breitling vs. Rolex: Both brands are prominent pioneers in the watch world. Since their founding over a century ago, both brands have worked tirelessly to establish themselves as authorities within the watch industry.  They are also influencers within the watch culture. Although their stories span over the same period, Breitling and Rolex have each taken a unique approach to the business and fine art of watchmaking.

Leon Breitling established his brand in 1884 in a small workshop that specialized in building chronographs and precision watches. The designs were specifically intended for sports, science, and other niche industries. On the other hand, Hans Wilsdorf first founded a watch distribution business in 1905. It later took on the name Rolex when they began designing their own timepieces. Breitling’s initial focus was on carefully crafting precisions instruments for a specific purpose, namely aviation. Whereas, Wilsdorf honed his efforts on crafting high quality movements and complications.

Breitling vs. Rolex: An image of a Rolex Submariner on its side with a black dial and bezel

Each method proved successful for the respective brands. Within the first twenty years of business, both Breitling and Rolex carved out their places in the watch industry. Breitling worked on developing the chronograph function to help pilots calculate flight times, and as a result, they were able to secure partnerships with both the Royal Air Force and United States Army. Meanwhile, Rolex introduced several groundbreaking advancements in watchmaking with the creation of the first wristwatch to be certified as a chronometer. They also created the first waterproof and dustproof wristwatch, and the world’s first perpetual self-winding mechanism.

Breitling Vs. Rolex: The Mid-1900’s

During the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, Rolex began to unveil some of its most iconic models. First, the Datejust in 1945, the first self-winding wristwatch to display the date on the dial. Then, the Submariner in 1953, the first dive watch waterproof up to 100 meters. Next, the GMT Master in 1954, the first pilot watch to tell the time in multiple time zones at once. And finally, the Day-Date in 1956. This was first wristwatch to display the date and day of the week in a window on the dial.

Breitling also released one of their most notable models in 1952. The Navitimer, also known as the “super” chronograph, is equipped with advanced “navigation computer” functionality. This allows the watch to perform calculations needed for a flight plan. The brand continued their work on the chronograph function into the late 1960’s with the invention of the self-winding chronograph movement. They developed this revolutionary horological innovation in 1969 with the watchmakers Heuer, Buren, and Dubois-Depraz as part of a secret and unusual partnership dubbed “Project 99.” Then, in 1984, Breitling debuted another one of their more iconic models: the Chronomat.

Breitling vs. Rolex: An image of a Breitling Navitimer with a blue and white dial

 Breitling Vs. Rolex: The Recent Years

In more recent years, Rolex has expanded their focus into the worlds of sports and pop culture by cultivating sponsorships with some of the world’s most influential people and relationships across an array of industries, including tennis, golf, motorsports, and sailing. Breitling, however, has remained steadfast in their dedication to the development of the chronograph. In 2009, they introduced the Caliber 01, the brand’s most precise self-winding chronograph movement to date.

Today, both Breitling and Rolex continue to leave their mark in horological history with their relentless pursuits to develop the highest caliber watches on the market. Each brand has dedicated their efforts to a particular facet and focus of watchmaking. If you have to choose between Breitling and Rolex, you certainly can’t go wrong—it all comes down to personal preference.

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Caitlyn is the founder of Grey Ghost, a New York City-based boutique content marketing agency with a passion for artists, entrepreneurs, small businesses, and startups. She believes in quality over quantity, creative thinking, and, above all, using language as powerful tool to build lasting connections.

Latest comments
  • I was pretty DISAPPOINTED when my Rolex Datejust 2 was slow. Its a beautiful piece of expensive jewelry but Since tHey are no longer hand made pieces you can get one (like mine) that cost me $11k and ended up needing oil in leSs than a year. Trying Omega now.

  • Thats awesome Berry. I have been on the fence about the 2. A few of my friends own breitlings but now want a rolex. But most people that know watches tell me to go with breitling or if i go with rolex to go with a tudor or omega instead. Seems like watch enthusiast always pick rolex as a last resort. But never #1. A golf pro i know who is also a huge watch guy said he will nevwr buy rolex. Speaks volume.

  • That is a nice read. Owning several watches across across the brand spectrum, one thing I would note that sets BREITLINg apart from Rolex is exclusivity. Frankly, short of polite conversation, I do not receive many complainants ON my Rolex (stainless daytona). On the other hand, when in the company of watch enthusiasts, my breitling (avenger seawolf ti, Chronomat Gmt) rarely go UNnoticed.