Co-Branded Breitling

From the late 40’s to the early 70’s, Breitling has been distributed all over the world by many distributors. Some of them added their name dials, most probably for advertising purpose.

However, while we mainly see distributors name added besides Breitling signature, for the most influencial distributors, we can find Breitling models without any Breitling mention anywhere on the watch (neither on the dial nor and the case/caseback/movement) but only the distributor name. It is not 100% verified today by whom these watches were made but we can assume they were produced by Breitling itself in Switzerland and then send to its distributors.

Here below is the list of the distributors we can find signed on Breitling dials:

  • Clebar
  • Kronometer Stockholm
  • UTI
  • Singer
  • LIP
  • Meister

Co-branded examples are by definition rarer than standard Breitling production. Finding one in good condition is therefore not easy and is definitively worth looking for.

Clebar

Information about Clebar are pretty scarce.

It seems that Clebar was a trademark of a New York based watch importer, Edward Trauner, since September 1925.
During the mid 40’s, the same Edward Trauner would have imported Breitling in the US, adding the Clebar name on the dial.
It does not seem therefore that there was any “official” collaboration between Clebar and Breitling like with LIP in France.

We can logically assume that this Clebar co-branding ended with the creation of the Breitling Watch Corporation of America in 1947, becoming the official importator .

In 1955, Edward Trauner tied up with Zodiac and became Zodiac distributor over the US. Since then, Clebar and Zodiac were both produced in Le Locle, Switzerland and are pretty much identical.

Very few Breitling have been seen with Clebar signature.

The first version of the Chronomat ref 769 is one of them.

Breitling Chronomat ref 769:

 

Source: Farfo

Source: BreitlingSource

Breitling Premier ref 788:

Source: BreitlingSource

Please note that this dial is redone. However, it indicates that a 788 with Clebar on the dial has been produced.

Kronometer Stockholm

Founded in 1933, Kronometer Stockholm was a pretty big Swedish retailer, until 1975.
They imported and sold watches both for professional and civilian use.

Dates are not very clear but earliest examples seen with Kronometer Stockholm signature are dating from the mid 40’s while we have also seen some early 70’s Top Time 815.

Concomitantly to the sale of co-branded Breitling, Kronometer Stockholm also sold Breitling watches under its own name.

Those watches were using same reference numbers, serial numbers and movements as their Breitling sisters but only with a Kronometer Stockholm signature on the dial and caseback.

From 1933 to the 50’s the following logo was used:

Logo 1933 – 50’s

It was then replaced by this one:

Logo 50’s – 1975

As for many retailers, it seems that many Breitling sold by Kronometer Stockholm were either unsold watches or later assembly of unsold case/movements with later dials.

Breitling Ref 734:

Ref 734 with a case from 1945 and a post 1953 dial

Source: Auction archive

Ref 734 Kronometer Stockholm only

Source: @swewatch

Breitling Ref 765 – Pre AVI:

Source: @swewatch

Breitling Ref 765 – AVI:

Source: @Jean Luc Desplats

Breitling Ref 786 – Chronomat:

Breitling Ref 788:

Ref 788 with a case from 1945 but a later Kronometer Stockholm logo

Source: Auction archive

Breitling Ref 808 – Chronomat:

Source: @swewatch

Breitling Ref 2508 – Chronomat:

Source: BreitlingSource

Source: @swewatch

Breitling Ref 815 – Top Time:

Source: auction archive

Those 815 were supplied to the Televerket company and a second serial number was stamped on the case back (most probably for internal identification through the company).

Televerket was the Swedish company (state-owned) responsible for telecommunications in Sweden between 1853 and 1993.

While initially named Kongl. Elektriska Telegraf-Werket (Royal Electric Telegraph Agency), it was renamed Televerket in 1953.

Source: AnalogShift

UTI

The watch manufacture UTI was first registered under the name UTINAM around 1906 by Georges Meyer.

UTINAM was the motto of the city of Besançon (birth place of the french horology): literally « Plaise à Dieu » in Latin (« pleasing to God »).

Source: forum.horlogerie-suisse.com

Until 1940, both names UTINAM, UTI and Etablissements Georges Meyer are used.

In 1940, UTI S.A is registered.

In 1912 UTI already has a very rich catalog with pocket watches, wristwatches for men and women, shape movements and luminous dials based on radium (invention developed in 1904 with Pierre and Marie Curie and the manufacture LIP).

Source: @chp forum.horlogerie-suisse.com

At the end of the war, Jacques Meyer, grandson of Georges Meyer takes over the family business and focuses on high end watches through partnership with jewelers like Van Cleef and Arpels.

Advertisement from 1964

Source: @chp forum.horlogerie-suisse.com

With more than 450 employees in the 70’s, UTI will unfortunately not survive to the quartz crisis and will close definitively in 1984.

In the 50’s, strong partnerships are concluded with some watchmakers like Breitling, Lemania, Glycine, Universal Genève…

Was it only a distribution contract through UTI network or also an after sale service like with LIP? Conditions of this partnership are not very clear today.

Few Breitling have surfaced with an UTI signature but based on what we have seen, we can estimate that the partnership with Breitling most probably started in the second half of the 50’s and ended in the first half of the 60’s. Was it stopped concomitantly with the start of the partnership with LIP? I don’t know but that’s an assumption.

Breitling ref 765 AVI:

This is the only one 765 AVI found with an UTI signature. Also, no UTI dials have been seen on later 765 AVI and CP (reverse panda versions) up to now.

Source: @watchfred

Breitling Navitimer ref 806:

As for the 765, UTI dials have been seen only on all-black 806 like the one below:

Source: lesrhabilleurs.com

Breitling Chronomat ref 808:

Source: Auction archive

Breitling TransOcean:

Source: watch.ru

Singer

As for Clebar, very few informations can be found out there.

It seems that Singer was the brand used to distribute Breitling in Turkey in the mid 40’s (Ottoman Empire at that time).
Starting date is definitively not clear but an example of a Chronomat 769 dating before 1945 have been found.

Breitling Chronomat ref 769:

Source: auction archive

LIP

The « comptoir Lipmann » was founded in 1867 by Mr Emmanuel Lipmann in Besançon, France.

In 1896, the Chronomètre LIP is introduced to the market and LIP is signed on the dial.

At the death of Emmanuel, his son Ernest takes over the family business and develops with Pierre and Marie Curie the first luminescent dial based on radium, in 1904.

During the First World War, LIP will be selected by the French army to supply chronometers. Those watches are signed “Guerre SG” followed by an inventory number.

Source: forumamontres @ZEN

In 1931, the visionary Frederic Lipmann, son of Ernest, joins the family company.

Source: lip-blog.com

Frederic Lipmann will strongly develop the company: while in 1932 there were 250 employees for a production of around 40 000 watches per year, at his peak in 1954, the production reached around 300 000 watches per year with more than 1 500 employees.

As a real visionary, Frederic Lipmann starts to work on an electric watch in 1949 and, in 1952, the first electric wristwatch is presented to the Science Academy of Paris, concomitantly with Elgin in Chicago.

However, the watch is not reliable enough to be introduced to the public and four more years of hard work will be required before its first introduction to the market in 1956.

This same watch will be offered to the General De Gaulle in December 1958 and, few weeks later, to the General Eisenhower.

Source: lip-blog.com

In the early 60’s, sales of mechanical chronographs fall rapidly and Willy Breitling decides to increase his commercial presence in France.

While developing his own distribution network would have been very costly, the envisaged option is to team up with a brand already well established in France : LIP.

A partnership is signed between the two companies in the mid 60’s (not very clear date – around 1966) : Breitling is now distributed in France through LIP sale network. In return, LIP is authorized to put its name on the dial. Those co-branded Breitling will be sold with Breitling documentation but under LIP guarantee. After sale service was also ensured by LIP itself.

The relation between LIP & Breitling stops in the early 70’s (around 1973).

Breitling SuperOcean ref 2005:

Breitling Navitimer ref 806:

The different variations of the Navitimer 806 from 1966 to the early 70’s can be found:

Navitimer with red markings and big subs

Navitimer with small subs

Source: Passion51.com

Navitimer with boxed 10 and small subs

Breitling Navitimer ref 0816:

Starting from 1968, the big case Navitimer ref 0816 can be found.

Source: @cortovintage

Breitling ref 765 CP:

Source: E-bay

Note that in 1966 (supposed starting date of the partnership between Breitling & LIP), all 765 were stamped CP with the associated specific dial.

However, since the transition between AVI and CP is around 1965 and that we have found some LIP branded Breitling from that year too, there might be some LIP 765 AVI out there…

Breitling Chronomat ref 808:

Source: Breitlingsource @curtisl1982

Breitling Cosmonaute ref 809:

A very rare version of an all black 809, dated from 1962, has been found.

We can logically think this watch was assembled in 1962 but sold later, through the LIP network.

Source: E-bay

Note that the sliderule with red markings is incorrect for this model.

Typical 809 from the mid sixties can be also found:

Source: BreitlingSource @dlicheri

Breitling Chronomatic ref 2130:

Source: Breitling Museum

Meister

Founded in 1881 by Emil Meister in Zurich, Switzerland (3 years before Breitling), Meister is initially specialized in the trade of jewellery and silverware.

Emil Meister

Source: meister-zurich.ch

After four generations of development, Meister is now represented by three stores over Zurich and is selling gold and diamonds jewellery, high end watches, silver and cristal glass objects, and also porcelain.

During the 50’s and 60’s, Meister has been retailer of Breitling watches and it seems that Meister was added to some dials (Meister was also added onto some Speedmaster dials).

The only Breitling I have found with a Meister signature is a Chronomat ref 808 from 1961:

Source: zeitauktion.com