Only a few fashion watch brands have a timekeeping history as interesting as Breil’s. First, they announced their entry into the watchmaking arena using alarm clocks, then they dropped watches from the Eiffel Tower. Breil is not your average fashion brand.
Breil Company (named after a Switzerland municipality) enjoys the best of both worlds. Italian fashion sense combined with Swiss artistry. This article takes you through Breil, the brand, enabling you to make an educated decision on your next wristwatch purchase.
Breil Milano or “Breil” is a subsidiary of Binda Group, an Italian corporate giant with over 100 years’ worth of jewelry and watchmaking experience. Breil was founded in Milan in 1939 as an alarm clock manufacturer. In 1942, they ventured into watchmaking.
See, most fashion companies involved in the watchmaking space manufacture watches as an add-on product, but not Breil. As such, this Italian fashion titan is known for creating quality designer watches.
In 1956, Innocent Binda had two Incaflex movement-fitted watches tossed from the top of the Eiffel Tower. His goal: to demonstrate that if his creations could survive a flight of 302 meters, they could handle pretty much anything thrown at them.
Italian Lifestyle Meets Swiss Efficiency
Both Switzerland and Italy are homes to fine craft. While the former is famous for quality watchmaking, the latter has cemented its position as a lifestyle and fashion powerhouse. Breil watches embody the reputation of both countries and hence are truly special.
Breil reinvented and repositioned itself against the backdrop of the 1970s quartz crisis. Having started as an alarm clock maker then venturing into military-grade diving and sports watches, they diversified their offerings to cater to the dress wearer in the 1960s.
Some sources suggest that between the 1960s and ’70s, along with Panerai, Breil supplied watches to Italian naval divers. Given Breil’s reputation for producing watches with up to 300M-water resistance rating, being linked with the navy makes sense.
Additionally, we found a connection between Breil watches’ water resistance capabilities and Squale, a Swiss manufacturer of diving watches and components in the Breil Manta Squale Depthometer Diver (see on eBay).
Some Manta models were waterproof-tested by Longines, further attesting to Breil’s reliability, resistance, and above-average build quality.
In 1997 Binda also acquired the distribution rights to both Seiko and Lorus in Italy, thereby strengthening its watch presence on the Italian market.
Breil Watch Collections
Breil boasts of having a sizeable collection of automatic and quartz watches, in addition to some tastefully finished skeleton models for men and women. This should come as a great relief to those who know about Breil’s daring promotional stunt in the 1990s. Breil had made the headlines back in the ‘90s for marketing a collection of hyper-masculine wristwatches to women.
Long story short, let’s just say Breil has been sort of apologizing since then for leaving the women out. They have women-only collections of timepieces—characterized by an intriguing blend of femininity and sophistication. They even have a product line for kids.
The Chrono Collection
Here’s one for the lefties. Introverts too. The Breil Men’s Tribe Chrono Quartz is designed for the left-handed wearer. It comes with a 43mm stainless steel case and mineral glass. Aside from being sensitive to the plight of 10% of the population, this model doesn’t have a lot going for it.
The design is dull, and the illegible subdials only dampen the already cluttered black dial. Overall, it’s a nice watch. If you are reserved, and willing to see past the confusion, you will love the complications that the clutter signifies.
The Automatic Collection
The Men’s Automatic Contempo bears both modern and classical designs. The dark brown rugged leather strap tells an age-old story— one of strong work ethic and commitment to excellence. Paired with the contemporary feel, the result is a cool watch for every occasion. The case is sizeable enough, allowing for highly legible hour markers and a date display.
If you are as showy as the Italians, the Breil ‘Orchestra’ Round Automatic Watch (out of stock) will feel right at home on your wrist. At first glance, the watch looks like a jewelry accessory, more so if you are new to skeletonized watches. Enough time passes, and you can’t seem to get enough of its industrial appeal.
Going for high-end skeletonized watches can make a serious dent in your bank account. Luckily, Breil has partnered with Japanese watch movement maker Miyota to ensure you get a solid skeleton watch at an affordable price. Everything in this beauty is thoughtfully designed from the face to exhibition back, with the escarpments in full display. If you appreciate how stuff works and mechanical movements, you will relish this watch. All without having to spend a fortune. Legibility is on point, thanks to luminous hands and bold hour markers.
The Time Only Lady Collection
The Breil Manta City Women’s Watch is elegant and grace strapped and enclosed within a 33mm stainless steel case. This piece represents perhaps Breil’s unceasing attempt to woo the ladies after ‘forcing them to wear Men’s Manta watches back in the ‘90s. This model comes with a quartz 3H Miyota movement for reliability and accuracy. Although it doesn’t come close to the Men’s Chrono version, function-wise, you can always count on its simplicity. It’s just not a multipurpose watch.
Breil Brand Reputation
Breil is reputed for creating cool Italian-designed timepieces at relatively affordable prices. With this, you get value for your money, given most of their models’ multi-functionality and durability. The build quality is also quite impressive considering the affordable price.
You’d expect a watch company that started as an alarm clockmaker to produce excellent timepieces. Breil has certainly not disappointed. Not much in terms of innovation, admittedly, but their product offerings are remarkable. Their commitment to cater to all is evidenced by variety from the simplistic but functionally reliable kids’ watches, multi-functional Chronos, to the Skeletonized automatic versions.
While most of their general-market models are sub-10ATM, the dive watch category features pieces that can withstand pressure at depths of up to 300M. This alone testifies to Breil’s expertise and capability to go above and beyond in their timekeeping business. The high-end waterproofing, combined with the fact that making watches is their primary business, places them above the average fashion brand.
Is Breil A Good Watch Brand?
Watches are a big part of the company’s identity. Being an Italian fashion brand, they have always had flair for fashion-forward timepieces. Even so, you won’t see over-the-top styling as you will with these other fashion brands. They also create jewelry. So, expect to see some brazen pieces with an industrial aesthetic.
Much like Binda, their designers have never shied away from freshness. They have occasionally broken with tradition, nudging their loyalists out of their own comfort zones. You will love the Breil Milano Mediterraneo Sport. It demonstrates Breil’s willingness to challenge the status quo. It’s limited in stock, and if that’s anything to go by, we’d say it’s a winner. If you are not lucky to consummate your affection for this model, try this GUESS Quartz Rubber Watch for a similar look for less.
From Naval Divers to Moto Racing
It appears Breil are quite the thrill-seekers. In addition to their brief sponsorship stint with the famous Ducati Corse in the World Superbike Championship and being the event’s official timekeeper back in 2003, they were involved with the MotoGP. And in our experience, only top-tier products get to be associated with one of the world’s most prestigious racing franchises.
Despite the good reputation, Breil has been unable to shake off the ‘nothing more than a fashion brand’ criticism. For most watch critics, all fashion watches are nothing but cheaply mass-produced and overpriced timepieces. Even those who think Breil watches deserve a second look believe that Breil ceased being a proper watch company. They have become a pure fashion industry thing. In forums, they are sometimes compared to brands such as TW Steel or Technomarine.
If you can only own one fashion watch, we’d recommend you go with Breil. You are not assured of a good resale value, but at least you get good build quality for the price. You could also look at brands such as Citizen or Seiko that have a long history of quality watchmaking and sell in a similar price range.
Is Breil a Luxury Brand?
The short answer is “No”, Breil is not a luxury watch brand based on any of the common criteria that watch experts would consider.
Although they do have a history in the business and roots in clockmaking, the brand doesn’t have a strong horological past nor work with high-end mechanical movements. They do not make their own in-house movements nor use premium materials. The general use of quartz movements and the price point in sub-$500 also makes it clear that they are not in luxury territory.
They have made some serious watches. The Manta 1970 Automatic, which approached the entry-level luxury territory, is a good example. Still, they aren’t even a blip on watch aficionados’ radar.
If you fancy a designer watch but are on a budget, you will find good alternatives in their lower-end models. Their upscale pieces enjoy a more attractive design and finish and can both outperform and outlast timepieces selling for twice as much.
Where to Buy Breil Watches?
Breil sells and ships directly from their online store. If there’s a store carrying their other products near you, chances are you’ll find some Breil watches in there.
You can also shop Breil watches on Amazon.
Where Are Breil Watches Made?
Breil watches, especially the mid-range ones, feature a mix of Swiss and Japanese components, but all their timepieces are marketed as ‘Swiss Made.’
Breil Warranty Policy
All Breil watches come with a 2-year warranty valid from the date of purchase. Other than the mention of “any defect of conformity upon delivery of the products,” their warranty policy is quite vague.