01 premier b01 chronograph 42 with silver dial and black alligator leather strap

Why Breitling’s Fall Lineup May Be Georges Kern’s Best Yet

Breitling goes mainstream by setting its sights to Asia, reducing SKUs, and case sizes.

By Benjamin Teisseire

Breitling has been in existence since 1884 and is one of the go-to brands in Swiss watchmaking, known from the start for its innovative ethos, chronometric accuracy, and robust design aesthetics. Following the arrival of Georges Kern, it has built on its strengths and broadened its communication to reach out to new devotees. The Breitling Summit 2018 recently held in London set the tone for the new-look Breitling.

A fresh wind of change is blowing through Breitling. The Grenchen-based brand is demonstratively proud of its roots, heritage, unique style, and free spirit. It's something that can be tangibly felt throughout its collections, from its 360° advertising campaign to its genuinely welcoming vibe. As Georges Kern himself states "This is only the beginning!". We bring you an update.

A simplified offering

The brand's development is based on four key pillars: independence, growth, distribution, and Asia, but more specifically on the four collections forming the basis of the brand: Air, Earth, Sea, and Professional. Each collection strikes the perfect balance between modernity and heritage, thereby offering an array of different styles that will help to seduce a broad segment of enthusiasts: young, experienced (they are no longer referred to as "old"), men and women. The strategy is clear and efficient. Sizes have also been revised downwards, with 46 mm models now measuring 38mm to adapt not only to the sturdier wrists of intrepid explorers but also to those of the discreetly elegant dandy or female watchmaking aficionado. The new Navitimer collection was first introduced at Baselworld. It has since welcomed the arrival of a special edition Curtiss P40 Warhawk, a tribute to the famous "shark's head" fighter jets, which will be available in early 2019.

The new Premier collection

In the Earth category, Breitling is launching a new Premier line, unveiled for the first time in London. And it looks to be the brand's most stylized, and some might say classic, lineup to date. The tremendous strength of Breitling (and of Georges Kern) has been to secure a firm spot for the new family in the brand's history. And it's not just about ‘storytelling’ marketing. A glance at the past shows us that the name Breitling has often been spotted on the wrists of some of the world's most elegant celebrities since the 1940s/50s: Raquel Welch, Serge Gainsbourg, Miles Davis have all numbered among the brand's fans. Loved for its technology and precision, not to mention its effortless casual chic, the brand has always appealed to die-hard fine watchmaking connoisseurs. Take, for example, the high-end B01 chronograph with its entirely in-house workshop-crafted movement, its silvered "Panda" dial endowed with two anthracite sub-dials at 3 and 9 o'clock, and sapphire back.

Then there was the Valjoux 7750 version with its blue or anthracite sunray dial and tone-on-tone sub-dials at 6, 9 and 12 o'clock and circular guilloché texture. Finally, the collection is rounded off by a Day & Date version and another small seconds at 6 o'clock. The finishes are elegant, and references to models of the 30s, 40s, and 50s are tremendously useful, especially when said references are featured alongside them. The models caused quite a stir at the time and set the tone for the design of most of the chronometers that followed. They may not appear revolutionary today, but they have a compelling backstory, which gives meaning to the entire collection. For Georges Kern, the Premier family will bolster the brand's current development by reaching out to a new clientele for Breitling and by delivering a glimpse into the early swathes of its vast DNA, which had a considerable impact on the industry as a whole, such as the patent application for the chronograph's double push pieces filed in 1933. Its historic ties with the automobile world are once again the focus of attention with the limited-edition Premier Bentley British Racing Green sporting the iconic colors of the English brand and heralding the renewal of their partnership.

Sea and Professional lines: all-important sustainable development

The Superocean is one of the strongest segments of Breitling's current offering. With the help of a squad of surfers headed up by Kelly Slater, the collection sees the welcome addition of a new model, which emphasizes eco-responsibility. Designed in partnership with Outerknown, the company created by Kelly Slater and Mark Walker and founded on the very principle of eco-responsibility, the new Superocean Héritage II Chronograph 44 Outerknown has an ultra-sporty look with a black steel case and sea blue dial. Significantly, it uses ECONYL (recycled abandoned fishing nets) for its NATO strap, as well as 100% recyclable packaging.

Likewise, for its Professional line, Breitling has called on the services of a highly-reputed ‘team’ of explorers, including Bertrand Piccard. Since 1992, the brand has supported its ambitious projects in the realms of eco-responsibility. Their partnership now takes a step further by supporting the initiative to find 1,000 solutions for protecting the environment, while ensuring profitability. As Georges Kern himself says: "There's good and bad everywhere, but we should all do our part. The problem is too huge to be ignored. Even if our initiatives with Kelly and Bertrand serve only to increase public awareness, then we will be heading in the right direction". We couldn't agree more!

Breitling sets out a coherent strategy for its innovations, anchoring them in a rich past built on a whole host of vintage references, each one genuine and unique. The offering aims to be broader, sporty and sophisticated, but still focused on the themes of Air, Earth, Sea, and Professionals. Although there are no collections dedicated to women as yet, the latter nevertheless enjoy a significant presence in the brand's communication. And like Kern says: "This is just the start of our legendary future."

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