MAS­TER­ING THE EL­E­MENTS

How Breitling is seek­ing world dom­i­na­tion, realm by realm.

The Peak (Singapore) - - Watches -

Watch in­dus­try head hon­cho Ge­orges Kern is a master in de­liv­er­ing a mes­sage. At the be­gin­ning of 2018, the CEO (and part-owner) of Breitling started to lay his ground­work for the brand, six months af­ter hav­ing of­fi­cially taken up the post. His am­bi­tious plans in­cluded mov­ing the brand away from niche-avi­a­tion ter­ri­tory and into a more ex­pan­sive, lifestyle-cen­tred space; stream­lin­ing col­lec­tions; and ex­pand­ing in China.

Fast for­ward to the end of the year, and Kern had rolled out watch lines fea­tur­ing de­signs that were new but an­chored in Breitling’s 134-year his­tory, cat­e­gorised by four dis­tinct pil­lars – Land, Sea, Air and Pro­fes­sional. It has also signed on numer­ous fa­mous faces for its var­i­ous squads: Aside from its Cin­ema Squad, for in­stance, its cam­paigns also fea­ture a Surfers Squad, led by Kelly Slater. Breitling is also steadily grow­ing its pres­ence in China, hav­ing built more than a quar­ter of its goal of 80 stores in the coun­try. We take a look at how the brand has been de­vel­op­ing three of its key pil­lars.

01 SEA

In mar­kets such as Ja­pan and Sin­ga­pore, a big Breitling best­seller has noth­ing to do with the brand’s fa­mous avi­a­tion his­tory, but with the sea – con­sider the Superocean Her­itage dive watch. An in­ter­est­ing, en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly part­ner­ship emerged from Breitling’s part­ner­ship with Amer­i­can surf­ing icon Kelly Slater, who is also the most fa­mous mem­ber of the brand’s Surfers Squad.

What sets the Superocean Her­itage II Chronograph 44 Outer­known apart is its black-and-blue woven strap, which is made from Econyl yarn – a ma­te­rial cre­ated from re­cy­cled ny­lon, partly sourced from fish­ing nets dredged up from oceans. This au­to­matic chronograph watch, which is wa­ter-re­sis­tant to 200m, was made in part­ner­ship with Outer­known, a sus­tain­able cloth­ing com­pany co-founded by Slater. The watch also comes in pack­ag­ing en­tirely made from re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als.

02 LAND

“El­e­gance, style and mo­tor­ing,” says Kern, are the in­spi­ra­tion for the new Premier col­lec­tion, which in­cludes a spe­cial, green-di­alled edi­tion for Breitling’s long-time part­ner, Bent­ley. Aside from chrono­graphs pow­ered by ei­ther the B01 in-house move­ment or B13 Valjoux 7750-based move­ment, the col­lec­tion also in­cludes a day-and-date model and a time-only au­to­matic watch. These watches are the de­scen­dants of the brand’s Premier clas­sic chrono­graphs, which first ap­peared in 1938.

Un­til now, the last time a new Premier model was re­leased was in 1964, said well-known Amer­i­can Breitling col­lec­tor Fred Man­del­baum, who now serves as a con­sul­tant. He added: “Af­ter Ge­orges saw the Premier mod­els the first time we met, it took just 10 min­utes for him to de­cide to make them again.”

03 AIR

Of­fi­cial press im­ages weren’t yet avail­able at the time of pub­li­ca­tion, but we must state for the record that one of the coolest nov­el­ties that has many jour­nal­ists drool­ing is the new Avi­a­tor 8 time­piece. Styled like a Nav­itimer 8 – the lifestyle-driven ver­sion of Breitling’s Nav­itimer 1 tool watch – the Avi­a­tor 8 “Cur­tiss Warhawk” has a deep khaki-green dial and is in­spired by the fa­mous Cur­tiss World War II fighter plane, the P-40 Warhawk.

Even though Breitling is cur­rently de-em­pha­sis­ing its hard­core avi­a­tion time­pieces, it still knows bet­ter than to alien­ate its long-time fans and se­ri­ous watch nerds. That’s why the Nav­itimer 1 B03 Rat­tra­pante, which fea­tures a new in-house split-sec­onds chronograph move­ment – a tech­ni­cal achieve­ment not many brands can boast – was also on show at Bei­jing, de­spite hav­ing been re­leased in 2017.

BIG ON CHINA Breitling CEO Ge­orge Kerns (third from left) has am­bi­tions for China that in­clude the es­tab­lish­ment of 80 stores in the coun­try. The brand’s launch of its flag­ship in Bei­jing saw celebri­ties (from left) Pe­ter Lind­berg, Brad Pitt and Daniel Wu grac­ing the event.

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