Breitling, which is a Swiss company, was first established back in 1884. While most people assume the company was originally founded in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, it was actually established in the town of Saint Imier, which is located in the Swiss Jura Mountains. The original founder of the company was Leon Breitling.
In 1892, Leon decided to move his fledgling company from Saint Imier to Switzerland's primary wrist watch producing center, La Chaux-de-Fonds (now you can see why people are sometimes confused about the company's original location).
Later, in 1914, Leon's son, Gaston, took over management of the wrist watch company. This is very important because with the change in management came a key innovation in the history of time keeping. Specifically, in 1915, Gaston created the world's first wrist watch chronograph.
Under Gaston's aegis, the company would become a Royal Air Force official supplier in 1936. A few years later, the company would also become a supplier to the American forces as well. I believe it was during this period that the company became internationally known as a company that made aviation-oriented time pieces.
In 1979, the company transferred from the Breitling family to Ernest Schneider. As of 2009, the Breitling Watch Company is the de facto leader in aviation-oriented wrist watches. As an example, they have produced the Breitling Emergency, which contains a transmitter that provides an aircraft emergency frequency. This function has been used numerous times to save lives. Of course, if you choose to own this watch, you must be extremely careful to not initiate the transmitter. If you do, you may find first responders knocking at your door.