FAST FACTS: SIX THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT GEORGES KERN’S BREITLING BLUEPRINT —
1. Breitling’s product history, while certainly tied to the high-flying world of pilots and jets, has always encompassed a broad variety of disciplines, including diving, sailing, and even skiing. New products will reflect this “air-sea-land” diversity, which Kern describes as necessary largely due to the success of a non-aviation model, last year’s Heritage Superocean II, which became the top selling model for the brand in 2017.
2. What has made Breitling watches so desirable to certain markets and customer demographics – their large sizes and complicated-looking dials – has also made them harder to sell in China and other Asian countries, where the customers lean toward smaller, simpler, and more traditional timepiece looks. Hence the development of products like the Navitimer 8 – which offers more modestly sized cases and eschews the iconic sliderule bezel.
3. Breitling will concentrate on what it does best: analog timekeepers with mechanical movements. Quartz-powered pieces like the Skyracer will be phased out, but popular outliers like the Breitling Emergency will remain.
4. The sweet spot for watch design and inspiration going forward will be the century spanning from 1884 to 1984 (with specific influences coming from the 1930s to the 1950s). The Breitling logo unveiled for 2018 goes for a more vintage-style cursive text while retaining the bright yellow coloring that has become so emblematic of the brand, dropping the famous Flying “B” emblem.
5. “Too much choice is no choice,” Kern said when referring to the current plethora of bracelet and strap options offered on Breitling watch models – Professional, Diver Pro II and III, and Ocean Racer among the rubber choices, plus numerous colors and styles of leather. As part of the clear segmentation of the Breitling families, these options will be limited, which will help solidify each model’s and each collection’s identity. It is – in an era during which nearly every watch manufacturer seems to be going in the opposite direction, with customization and easy strap interchangeability becoming the name of the game – a bold move.
6. Chronographs equipped with Breitling’s inhouse B01 caliber, or variations thereof, will now be more readily distinguishable from those that use other movements, such as the ETA Valjoux 7750. The 3-6-9 tri-compax subdial arrangement, with date at 4:30, will denote a B01 movement (and hence a higher price point), while the 12-9-6 arrangement with day-date display at 3 o’clock, means the timepiece is powered by the workhorse ETA movement. To drive home the point even further visually, the B01 movements will be on display through sapphire casebacks while the ETA movements will be behind solid casebacks engraved with Breitling branding.