When it comes to comparing Rolex vs Breitling, one thing to note is that whilst Breitling has been manufacturing its own movements since 2004, it also worked especially hard to create a quartz movement that delivers 10 times better efficiency than a standard quartz movement. Breitling certainly don’t cut corners on quality. Its watches are more affordable than Rolex but may not get the same recognition as a Rolex. Why is this you ask? Because Rolex is the number #1 most recognized watch brand in the world, whereas Breitling ranks at number #15. Both manufacturers create exceptionally beautiful watches however, so if you’re torn between the two, this guide which helps outline the differences between Breitling vs Rolex as a brand should help you make the right choice.
Originally founded as a watch distribution business, Rolex has come a long way since 1905. It created the first automatic waterproof watch – the Oyster, as well as the Datejust in 1945 – the first automatic watch that could display the date on the dial. Soon after that, the Submariner debuted, providing diving enthusiasts with a stylish and legible timekeeping tool to take to daring depths underwater with. The Master-GMT developed in 1953 enabled pilots to tell the time in two different destinations.
Breitling has anchored itself in the field of aviation-inspired wristwatches much more than Rolex. The company is a little older than Rolex, having been established in 1884. In 1915 Breitling developed a wristwatch featuring a chronograph complication, accompanied by a push-piece positioned at 2 o’clock on the case (to activate the functions of the chronograph). Today Breitling watch lines like the Chronomat, the Colt, the Transocean, the Navitimer, and the Avenger are popular collectibles.
Housing top-tier movements, state-of-the-art materials, and cutting-edge technology at their hearts – Superocean watches by Breitling boasts some of the company’s expert diving features. Entry-level Breitling Superocean watches are much more accessible and affordable than Rolex Submariner watches, starting at around half the price. They feature exceptional water-resistant capabilities of 2000 meters compared to a 300-meter water-resistant Submariner, as well as a helium escape valve.
Breitling Superocean Heritage II
Loved for their simpler designs, Breitling Colt watches can be likened (distantly) to the Rolex Datejust, since some of their designs comprise a three-handed dial layout accompanied by a date window at 3 o’clock. There are Breitling Colt watches with some serious size out there if you prefer your broader wristwatches – some spanning up to 44mm. You can choose between a reliable automatic movement or an accurate quartz movement, as well as different dial colors and chronograph options.
Breitling Chronomat Colt
Possibly the most recognizable Breitling design is the Navitimer watch. The Navitimer 1 is larger than the likes of the Navitimer 8 for example. It’s also more distinct, whereas other sub-categories from the collection donate an understated look to the wrist. If you’re a high-end watch collector and you like your technical timepieces, the Navitimer is feature-packed with innovative functions, including the slide rule bezel which enables a pilot to carry out several calculations and measurements at the cockpit. Top-end models are crafted from gold and are powered by an exquisite in-house caliber with a split-seconds chronograph feature.
Breitling Navitimer 01
The Submariner was released in 1953, taking full advantage of the iconic Oyster case, along with a screw-down crown. Submariner watches hold their value, making them a great investment piece. The steel models feature blue and black dials – the blue of which is the most valuable. Legible luminous hour markers and hands help keep track of time whilst underwater, alongside a unidirectional rotating bezel made from Cerachrom ceramic (for anti-color-fading properties).
Rolex Submariner (Hulk)
Rolex launched the Datejust model in 1945. It was the first mechanically-powered wristwatch to display the date on its dial. Rolex added the Cyclops lens to the dial a few years later which magnified the lens, giving these timepieces a slightly retro-inspired look. The Rolex Datejust has become an iconic status symbol since it debuted, and is loved for its classic simplicity. There’s a large variety of case sizes, dials, and materials to choose from within this range of dress watches.
Rolex Datejust II
The GMT-Master II watch is a solid investment because it is likely to hold its value very well on the second-hand market. The models from the collection can display up to three time zones and feature bi-color bezels that differentiate between day and night. The range is home to collectibles like the “Batman” and “Pepsi” versions which are highly sought after, mirroring the colors that their names take after. After 2007 Rolex GMT-Master II watches were fitted with Cerachrom bezels as well as a COSCA-certified caliber.
Rolex GMT-Master II
Rolex watches generally cost around double the price of a Breitling watch. Rolex’s cheapest models are the Oyster Perpetual 39mm and the Rolex Datejust 32mm ladies model, which cost between $6000 and $6200. If we compare that to Breitling’s cheapest model, the 45mm Breitling Colt Skyracer, what you get is a COSC-certified Breitling SuperQuartz™ Caliber 74 movement for around $2000. Top-end Rolex watches include the Day-Date models which can stretch up to $60,000 for platinum models. Other lines like the Daytona start from $15,000, equipped with an in-house caliber of course. The most expensive watch from Breitling’s catalog is the Navitimer 01.
Both Breitling and Rolex have become masters in different genres of watchmaking. Breitling has specialized in aviation-inspired tools like the Navitimer and the Aviator models, and Rolex has mastered the art of sea-friendly watches like the Submariner, the Sea-Dweller and the Deepsea Sea-Dweller. However, both companies have crossed over to one another’s realms.
Breitling has created some exceptional rugged diver’s watches like the Superocean and the Superocean Heritage. Rolex too has put itself on the map for perfecting the skills required to create a bold and iconic watch for pilots and traveling enthusiasts – the GMT-Master and GMT-Master II, as well as their Sky-Dweller range.
Both Rolex and Breitling subject their wristwatches to a stringent set of tests to determine their strength, robustness, and performance. So, we know that both companies create solid, high-quality timepieces – the question boils down to whether you desire the recognition that a Rolex would bring to the wrist or the masculinity and technique that a complication watch from Breitling would guarantee.