Monday morning, I took the early flight to London to attend the first Breitling Summit, where the brand’s new Premier collection and additional distinguished products in all of their four universes, Air, Land, Sea, and Professional were introduced. The day started already beautiful with a breathtaking landing over the city in full sunshine.
A brand with a rich heritage
Breitling was founded in 1884 by Léon Breitling with the mission to create toolwatches with optimum functionality. Based in the Swiss Jura, he specialized in chronographs and precision timers. Until today, the watch company has been famous for its pilot-themed chronographs.
In 2017, Breitling, one of the last family-owned watch brands of note, was sold to one of the biggest private equity firm in Europe, CVC Capital Partners. I was curious how the watch company had evolved during the past 12 months after Georges Kern took over the helmet as CEO and also as an investor.
Breitling CEO Georges Kern
The day started with a presentation about Breitling’s journey over the past year and its vision for the future by Kern himself. For me, he is a marketing genius. In this short amount of time, he managed that Breitling is on everyone’s lips and he is proud of this achievement himself. His mission and energy to create a #legendaryfuture seems well on its way. With him in charge, the brand has a great chance to live up to its own spirit and to be flying high again.
Let’s take for example the #squadonamission campaign that is throughly thought through, celebrating the collective spirit of squads united in pursuit of their mission and featuring leading figures from the worlds of aviation, exploration, cinema, and sport. It was a pleasure listening to iconic photographer Peter Lindbergh who appeared on screen to tell us how much fun he had shooting Charlize Theron, Brad Pitt and Adam Driver for Breitling’s Cinema Squad campaign.
Kern said that «this clearly differentiates Breitling from the rest of the industry as Breitling is communicating with teams instead of individuals.» In a round table discussion he also wheeled out his top team.
My favorite: the new B01 Chronograph in Bentley Racing Green
His first steps to turn the brand around was to simplify the product range to four categories of Land, Air, Sea and Professionals and to speak to a broader customer base. On Monday, Breitling also announced new watches in each segment. One presented during the summit will be launched in partnership with Bentley, a collaboration that has been running since 2003, and that will be renewed in 2018 with the new B01 Chronograph in Bentley Racing Green – my favorite watch seen this Monday in London.
Combining purpose with style, the new Premier collections are worthy of Breitling’s legacy.
It is part of the probably most important launch, the elegant and stylish Breitling Premier collection that will be available from the end of October 2018. A reintroduced name that has a special significance for the brand as it was in the 1940s, when Breitling introduced its first collection of truly elegant watches, which were defined by their fashionable flair. Willy Breitling wanted to attract a new customer base and Kern wants to achieve the same with these new watches. Kern is clear about the role the Premier watches play in the brand’s product portfolio: «This is the first modern Breitling collection dedicated to everyday elegance. With outstanding quality and performance, these watches bear our unmistakable brand DNA, but they have been created with a focus on style that beautifully complements their purpose.»
Breitling’s new Superocean Héritage II Chronograph 44 Outerknown
Going with the zeitgeist and focusing on the sustainability aspect, Breitling’s new Superocean Héritage II Chronograph 44 Outerknown celebrates the brand’s partnership with Outerknown, a sustainable clothing company committed to improving environmental conditions for the entire planet. The watch features a first for Breitling: the strap is crafted from ECONYL® yarn, an innovative material created from nylon waste, one source of which is fishing nets from oceans around the world.
Preview at the summit: Navitimer 8 inspired by Curtiss will be launched in 2019
Another very cool model that will hit the shelves in 2019 is for Breitlings’ aviation watch enthusiasts and «flying tigers»: the Navitimer 8 camouflage green dial will be produced in conjunction with Curtiss, an aircraft company best known for its WWII P-40 Warhawk fighter jet that is painted with a shark’s mouth under its nose.
During the round table Kern explained a little more about his sales strategy. He will increase their own retail and decrease wholesale. He closed most of the stores in South America and opened new ones in Asia and the US. In Paris, Breitling will open a flagship store in the next weeks featuring the new very masculine look, imagine a loft apartment with a pool table and a living room area with leather sofas, brick and concrete walls. «We call it modern retro,» Mr Kern said. Through their interior design, all stores offer an outstanding buying experience. Something that is key for Kern.
His biggest advantage in his new challenge? The independency of Breitling which gives him the capability to act faster than in a conglomerate. Kern is involved in every little step, even the design process of the watches.
Trying the new Premier Chronograph 42 with blue dial and brown alligator leather strap
An outlook for the upcoming year: Ladies, great news is that 2019 will mark the launch of a designated women’s watch collection. Stay tuned!
To a legendary future… I am wishing the whole Breitling team good luck for this thrilling journey!
Photo: Courtesy of Breitling
Harold Cunningham/Getty Images for Breitling
@Breitling #breitling #squadonamission #legendaryfuture #premierstyle