New Breitling factory meets `merciless demands’ of chronometer production

Breitling, the prestigious brand known for its precision watches for pilots, has opened a state-of-the-art operation in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. The new plant specializes in the development and manufacture of mechanical movements. The intent, says a Breitling report, is to equip its chronographs and watches with “ever more efficient motors and to meet the merciless demands of 100% chronometer production.”

Breitling is the only major brand which equips all its watches, both mechanical and quartz, with officially certified chronometer movements. Only 3% of watches produced annually in Switzerland get an official Swiss chronometer rating certificate. During the 10 months required to make a Breitling chronometer, the piece undergoes more than 1,000 tests.

The new avant-garde facility, called Breitling Chronométrie, opened in January following 10 months of construction. It is designed by the same architects who created Breitling’s new headquarters in Grenchen, Switzerland. Features include streamlined facades, luminous bay windows and glass-roofed areas, and a wide central corridor bordered on either side by workshops.

The facility is equipped with sophisticated refinements rarely used in watchmaking. For example, to avoid dust, which can clog a movement, the facility has an air filtering system with differential pressures. Rooms where components are unpacked are kept in a state of slight underpressure, to prevent dust escaping when a door opens, while workshops are maintained in overpressure, to keep air pure. To prevent humidity and condensation-also enemies of precision mechanical watches-Breitling has a system that constantly regulates and controls the humidity and temperature of each room. Air is renewed entirely every 10 minutes. In addition, new alloys that diminish the effects of magnetic fields or variations in temperature are used in making key components such as the balance wheel or escape-wheel.

Breitling has created precision timepieces since 1884. Its U.S. operation is Breitling USA, based in Wilton, Conn.