Breitling Boutiques — Doing Things Differently
Stepping into a Breitling boutique today is a totally different experience than entering a dealership when I just founded Fratello magazine. Most of the time, you’d step into an interior that the grandparents of the current owner had proudly chosen and installed. Uncomfortable chairs (covered with velvet!) at an oak desk where the shop owner would show you the watches on a tray, matching the dark brown oak. Often a place where there was more information and passion for watches in the catalog than in the shop.
Even today — although the interiors are often improved — you will encounter places where there’s just a small collection of watches of the brands you are looking for (or at least not the exact version you’ve seen on the manufacturer’s website), where the staff needs to be excited and passionate about every brand they sell (which is virtually impossible) and where you basically miss the connection with the brand or the luxury aspect in general.
A shop — or boutique — needs to be a proper business card for the brand.
A website used to be the business card for a shop or business in the past, but today it is more or less the other way round. A shop — or boutique — needs to be a proper business card for the brand. Because no matter how nice a website looks, if the place where you actually go to see and try a watch looks like a mess, the impression might ruin your perception of the brand.
Now, that was quite a lot of negativity in the introduction. But I have been disappointed by authorized dealers in the past very often, so I applaud Breitling for doing things differently. The brand’s boutiques are fresh and designed around the customer and the Breitling watches.
…you shouldn’t BBQ inside a building…
The typical masculine style, the man-cave every guy dreams about having, including the occasional pool table, bar, and motorcycle simply looks cool. The only thing I’ve found missing is a smoking BBQ inside, where steaks are being prepared. But that might have something to do with the fact you shouldn’t BBQ inside a building…
We visited the Breitling boutique in Amsterdam last month, and it was quite the experience. I have to admit that until last month, I only saw Breitling boutiques from the outside (except for the shop-in-shop in Zurich). Not that I am not interested, but I often feel awkward entering a boutique while I know I am not going to make a purchase. I don’t want to waste anyone’s time or give them the feeling that I am spying for an article (more-and-more often there’s recognition when we enter a boutique or shop).
In the Amsterdam boutique, I noticed that there are two ways of making yourself comfortable. There’s a bar-style counter, where you can have a look at the watch you want — very casual. But there’s also this area with a comfortable leather chesterfield and matching sofas where you can hang out. Looking at the latest Breitling watches, discussing watches (or BBQs/motorcycles/cars whatever) with each other, or making an actual purchase. It seems that Breitling covered its bases when it comes to creating a welcoming atmosphere to put potential customers at ease.
As I’ve touched upon earlier, one of the big advantages of a brand boutique over a multi-brand store (or AD) is that they have most of the collection in stock. When we visited the Amsterdam boutique, they even had the Tricolori edition waiting for a customer. Besides that, boutiques often have a nice stock of strap and bracelet replacements, catalogs, books, etc. It is all about Breitling, of course.
Where does that leave the authorized dealer? We asked that question during our meeting with the Jan-Paul ten Hoopen. He is a consultant to Breitling and showing us around in the new Breitling boutique. Although Breitling boutiques have the advantage of having a huge collection of watches, authorized dealers often have long-lasting relationships with customers.
…some of the new Breitling LEs were delivered to ADs before the boutique received them.
Those loyal to the AD and don’t feel the necessity to go to a brand boutique. He lets us know that the boutique is also not the only place where limited editions will appear. Actually, some of the new Breitling LEs were delivered to ADs before the boutique received them. Then, we share our assumption that there’s also the fact that boutiques are not discounting. Authorized dealers, however, have a bit more freedom there.
A dirty word
“Discount” seems to be a dirty word when we say it, knowing we are in an official brand boutique. But the reality is that it is often the first thing people talk about when discussing watches. Unfortunately, I have to add, because I often feel that discounting shouldn’t be necessary. It does the brand more harm than good in the end. And this will also reflect badly on a shop that does give discounts.
However, we are told that this is not really an issue. The current Breitling authorized dealers are well aware of the new brand’s strategy. The number of Breitling’s points of sale has been decreased and only those who are serious and passionate about the brand have been allowed to stay on.
Sea, Land, Air
Breitling’s Sea, Land, and Air concept is maintained in the boutique. These categories all have their own section, which makes navigating (no pun intended) the boutique easy.
You can visit the Breitling boutique in Amsterdam on PC Hooftstraat 130. It is a beautiful location. You can find it in the center of the city. In its vicinity are many other brand boutiques as well. The Breitling boutique, though, is one of the few that is actually brand-owned. Many others are a franchise operated by large retailers. When you’re in Amsterdam it is definitely worth visiting. For an overview of Breitling boutiques in your area, go here.