About Breitling Cosmonaute
The Swiss watch manufacturer Breitling SA was established in 1884 and today is world-renowned for its precision-made aviation and marine chronometers. The company takes its name from founder Léon Breitling, who was enthusiastic about catering his chronographs to scientific and industrial purposes.
The modern Breitling range is broadly split into three categories: diving, aviation and luxury. Although their aviation models - the Navitimers - have largely been superseded by advanced electronic instruments, they are nevertheless still praised for their high functionality and meticulous design.
The Navitimer was first introduced in the 1940s, after the company adapted the bezel of their original chronograph with a circular slide rule. In the 1950s and 1960s, the watch was endorsed by the AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) with their own logo edition.
In 1961, the Navitimer was further adapted by Breitling to meet the demands of a new kind of aviation: space travel. Approached by Scott Carpenter, an astronaut with the pioneering Mercury space program, the company was asked to incorporate a 24-hour dial instead of the usual 12-hour one, as 'night' and 'day' are otherwise indistinguishable in space. The resulting model became known as the Cosmonaute and orbited the Earth three times on Carpenter's wrist in 1962, before evolving over the years with a range of different models.
Today the watch retains its vestigial slide rule bezel and has a sophisticated, technical appearance with numerous subdials on the face. It is less bulky than other Breitling watches, with a 4.3cm diameter, but is water-resistant up to 3 bars (300m) and runs on a highly-accurate Breitling Caliber 22 automatic chronograph movement.
Modern versions of the watch are available in steel, black steel, or 18K red gold casings, with a choice of leather, Ocean Racer or classic Navitimer straps.