JEAN-PAUL GIRARDIN, VICE-PRESIDENT OF BREITLING
How would you describe Breitling? As our motto says, we produce instruments for professionals. Therefore, we look for precision, functionality and a strong design and all three of these aspects require constant innovation.
How do you balance between tradition, or the legacy of a brand, and pushing forward with innovation? I don’t think tradition and innovation are a paradox for Breitling, since innovation is our tradition. We started with the stopwatch and the first independent pusher in the 1930s, then developed the Navitimer for airforce pilots in the 1940s, which then became available for civil aviation after World War II. Even if the materials have changed, our Navitimer is still the most important aviator watch on the market today [and the only wristwatch chronograph in continuous production for more than 50 years]. How does Breitling anticipate trends? I would say we follow our own, in terms of new materials, aesthetics and creating new mechanical movements. It’s a question of evolving and responding to market needs. For example, the B55 we launched in the US last year isn’t a smartwatch per se but it is meant to be user-friendly in its connectedness, and it’s what the market wanted. We are still increasing production capacity today to respond to the demand. Also, in 2009, we created the B01 calibre in-house, a 47-jewel selfwinding chronograph movement featuring a modern structure, column-wheel construction and a vertical coupling-clutch with over 70 hours of reserve power from a single barrel which was more than just a marketing tool, it was a very important five-year project that will eventually allow Breitling to cease using modified ETA movements and produce everything it needs in-house.