Earlier this week we joined Breitling on their first ‘Breitling Summit’ in London. Together with several colleagues and partners of the brand, we spent a day going through the Breitling’s changes, its direction and the up and coming collections.
First, a word of welcome when Breitling’s CEO Georges Kern, takes the stage. He explains about the brand and its history and how to guide things in new and more clear directions as Breitling is not only about pilots watches. Structuring the collection into the 4 segments of land, sea air and professional. Each of which comes with a selected group of brand ambassadors or squad members as they call it. Also a quick introduction about new models but more on that later.
Part of the restructuring of the brand involves changes in the way they work and brand themselves. Several disciplines have been added as this greatly enhances and speeds up the effectiveness in general. Part of the changes is the corporate identity which is all structured and aligned for optimal recognition. Also, a new store concept will be unveiled in the Paris boutique later this year.
After that several partners of the brand take the stage. Fred Mandelbaum, or @watchfred as many will know him by on Instagram, takes the stage and talks about the brand and its heritage. Followed by the head of marketing for Bentley, Christophe Georges, who explains about the partnership they have with Breitling and how successful it has been for the both of them. Here we get a sneak preview of the new Breitling for Bentley.
Interesting to learn is that Breitling clearly takes the environment into consideration. To emphasise this Mark Walker takes the stage. He’s the CEO of Outerknown, a company committed to improving environmental conditions. They create sustainable clothing and the company was co-founded by world-renowned surfer Kelly Slater. He’s part of the Breitling Surfers Squad. This is also when their Breitling Superocean Outerknown is presented.
Another pioneer is Bertrand Piccard who’s father and grandfather explored the earth from the top and bottom. So for him, it was time to explore the earth horizontally by going around it in a ballon. Learning that it still takes fuels to do so they wanted to improve by travelling without using any. With the Solar Impulse 2 they flew around the globe using nothing but solar energy.
We continue the rest of the day following several workshops whits short presentations and touch and feel sessions. Starting off with the land session the focus is on the new Premier collection and how it was designed. It’s not based on, yet inspired by their vintage Premier models. Something that is shown with a vast selection of vintage Breitling watches.
Just like the other models in the Breitling collection many models are available with an in-house movement and a third party movement. Although the third party movements are named Breitling calibres, they are based on those of Valjoux and ETA, for example. Where the original Premier watches measure 36 to 38 millimeters, the current versions have been increased to 40 and 42 millimeters.
Depending on which configuration you prefer, prices for the Premier start at 4.100 Euro for the standard movement on a leather strap. The most expensive version is the chronograph with an in-house movement and metal bracelet which retails for 7.900 Euro. One simple way to tell if the chronograph has in-house movement is when the subdials have a contrasting colour. If the current Breitling chronograph watch comes with a dial in one colour it has a third party movement, as we explained earlier this year in this article.
During the Sea workshop we get a brief history of the dive watches made by Breitling. However, the focus is on the new Breitling Superocean Héritage II Chronograph 44 Outerknown. This special version comes with a stainless steel DLC case and blue dial. Most interesting is the strap which is made from Econyl®. This is a material that converts nylon waste that is pulled from oceans into new products such as the straps used for the Outerknown watch.
Ending our day at the air workshop where we can see some more modern and vintage watches side-by-side. It’s also where we can have a touch and feel with the new Breitling Navitimer 8 B01 Curtiss Warhawk special edition. This model is named after the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk plane which was first used in 1938. When putting this model side-by-side to the vintage Breitling 765 you can see where the inspiration for this watch came from.
During this long and informational day, we did get a better understanding of all the recent changes that have been made at Breitling. Although not all of them are even subtle they do make sense when it concerns the changing markets and future of the brand. Yet I still wonder how passionate Breitling collectors feel about the sudden and swift change of their brand. But as always, you can’t please everybody at the same time with the same thing.
We’ll cover the new models individually and more in-depth at another moment. For now, make sure to head over to the official Breitling website for more general information about the models we’ve seen.
Below, an impression of the Breitling Summit 2018 in pictures.
Bert Buijsrogge has worked in the real-estate business for 15 years and combined his passion for watches and photography over the years. He became famous for his watch photography and created a specific branded watch calendar for a number of... read more