Breitling SA was founded in 1884 by Léon Breitling in Saint-Imier. He focused on chronographs, which were in demand for industrial, military, and scientific applications and for athletic organisations. When Léon Breitling passed away in 1914, his son Gaston took over the family business. Inheriting his fathers pioneering spirit he launched the world’s first chronograph with a separate button above the crown. When Gaston passed away unexpectedly in 1927 an external team managed the company as his son, Willy, was only 14 years old.
In 1979 the brand was sold to Ernest Schneider, watchmaker and entrepreneur whose family looked after the brand until 2017. In that year Breitling became part of CVC Capital Partners and Georges Kern (former CEO of IWC) was appointed CEO.