Georges Kern, CEO, Breitling
Clearly, the 1980s are on your mind when launching the Super Chronomat. Is it the company's strategy to revive the glory days of ’80s aviation – with the original Breitling Chronomat a tribute to the Frecce Tricolori – yet move into a sportier, more inclusive present?
You are absolutely right, with the Super Chronomat, we wanted to revive the glory days of ’80s aviation but also give the new collection our modern retro twist making it cool and inclusive for our customers.
We did this by keeping some elements true to the original Chronomat, such as the rider tabs which protect the sapphire crystal or the Rouleaux bracelet. Adding that modern-retro touch, key new features include a stainless-steel bezel with a ceramic insert – a first on a Chronomat – plus the choice of a Rouleaux-inspired rubber strap or our iconic metal one with a butterfly clasp. With a case measuring 44 millimeters, the Super Chronomat collection is the boldest of its kind!
The Breitling Super Chronomat B01 44 with UTC module harks back to the 1980s
Details like the UTC in the strap of one of the models of the Super Chronomat is an ’80s trend – what are some of the ways that you at Breitling – are looking back into your archives and how do you pick out trends from the past to make them modern today?
We took over the company three and a half years ago. Like everybody else, I had an understanding of Breitling based on what it had done over the last 10 to 20 years. Then, I went to see a collector in Vienna who has the biggest chronograph collection in the world and the biggest Breitling collection in the world. I walked into his office, and I saw an incredible number of Breitling Chronographs on the table, one more beautiful than the other! That day, I picked out 10 pieces that I thought were amazing and cool to re-issue. We have a history other companies would kill for, why hide it?
The challenge is finding that balance, picking our trends from the past but ensuring it fits the aesthetic of the modern day. When we launch a product inspired by our history we of course need to look into the past, but we also need to look into the future. How will the brand look in five years? How will this impact Breitling’s wider product offering? Does this product have the potential to become a long standing design? Once we’ve decided this we then go into the technical aspects such as movement, chronometer certification, and so on, and we develop something which is suitable for the market and of course cool and inclusive.
The black bezel and black dial of the Breitling Super Chronomat B01 44
Speaking of the past – your recent Premier Heritage collection really encapsulates the elegance of Breitling – with these watches do you see a return to a new era of traditional, timepieces, given today's new challenges, post-Covid?
Willy Breitling was inspired to design the original Premier wristwatch of the 1940s after identifying people’s desire for a touch of elegance and glamour, in addition to a product being bold and tech savvy. This was Breitling’s first step to aligning purpose with style, I think the desire for traditional technical watches with a desirable design still stands today, even more so post Covid. People will still want luxury goods and qualitative products, but in a way that is subtler and low key.
The stunning Breitling Super Chronomat 44 Four Year Calendar
Who is the typical Breitling customer and what does he or she want in a watch?
Since we re-positioned the brand and re-structured the product portfolio into the segments Air, Land and Sea, which are deeply rooted in our history, we have been reaching new communities across the globe and witnessing strong sales across all three of these brand worlds. Within this product portfolio, we have classic watches such as the new Premier Heritage collection but then we have products such as the Endurance Pro, the ultimate athleisure watch in bold and funky colours, so there really is something for everyone.
Finally, we’ve expanded our female offering with the introduction of the Navitimer 35 and 38 and more recently the Chronomat for Women and Chronomat South Sea Capsule Collection. I would say that we are a casual, inclusive and sustainable brand but also a generalist brand, so a Breitling customer could be any individual that appreciates the combination of function and style.
A watch that has all the characteristics of becoming an icon is the Breitling Chronomat 32 for women – is it your strategy to get more women into a brand that has been known to be focused on high adrenaline watches for men?
Historically, Breitling’s offering of women’s watches has been hugely successful with collections such as the Lady J which inspired our women’s Chronomat collection, however it has been a while since Breitling introduced a full line dedicated to women. Following the success of the Chronomat 36 and 32 and Chronomat South Sea collections around 20 percent of Breitling’s sales are represented by women’s watches within the Chronomat collection , which is fantastic!
Make the Breitling Super Chronomat 44 Four Year Calendar a part of your lifestyle
You are working on a lot of changes since you took charge – how has the company been transformed under your leadership, especially vis-à-vis engagement across different channels for watch aficionados?
One of the main changes the new team made was simplifying the collection. When we joined Breitling even we had difficulties understanding the collection and differentiating the watches. Everything was more or less the same. There were essentially 26 variations of the same watch. There needed to be clear segments, that are also aesthetically different and tell different stories and this was not the case when we took over. So we actually reduced the number of references and streamlined the collections and segmented them into Air, Land, and Sea to allow customers to understand the brand and its offering in a much better way.
Bretiling CEO Georges Kern
In terms of different channels, before we took over at Breitling, the brand was not digital at all, so this is something we have been pushing a lot and of course we saw a digital transformation during the pandemic. We have now introduced e-commerce in US, UK, Australia, Canada, Europe, and in most of the Asian countries. And in addition, the products are also available on the retailers' e-commerce sites.
We also introduced a new boutique concept which has been rolled out across the globe. Despite the fact that 70 percent of the decision process happens online, people want the physical 360-degree understanding and experience of the brand so our boutiques are key. Breitling boutiques have bars, pool tables and motorbikes and people tell us that they’d like to move in. This creates a cool, inclusive environment as appose to a formal, intimidating boutique.
Brad Pitt sporting the New Breitling Super Chronomat 44 Four-Year calendar.
The Breitling Super Chronomat 44 Four Year-Calendar
Can you tell us about your innovative approach using Breitling 'squads', as you have done recently for the Super Chronomat with superstar Brad Pitt and Hollywood A-listers like Charlize Theron and Adam Driver?
We have squads in each of our brand universes, a Surfer Squad, a Triathlon Squad, an Explorer Squad, an Aviation Pioneers Squad, the Spotlight Squad, the Cinema Squad which you mentioned and more recently our Founders Squad with the launch of our new Premier Heritage. The squads celebrate the collective spirit of individuals united in pursuit of their mission. Fuelled by camaraderie and driven by purpose, the idea that we accomplish more together than we could alone.
The Breitling Super Chronomat B01 44 in 18 k red gold
What watch are you wearing currently?
I am currently wearing the Super Chronomat B01 44 in 18 k red gold. It is important for me to wear the latest models, I am very proud to see our new collections come to market and it’s great to hear instant feedback from friends and customers.
Breitling Super Chronomat B01 44 with stainless steel bezel with black ceramic insert, and black dial with silver chronograph counters and rubber strap
THE BREITLING SUPER CHRONOMAT B01 44
The 44 mm Breitling Super Chronomat B01 44 comes in three versions. It’s 14.45 mm thick and comes with a stainless steel case and stainless steel bezel with black ceramic insert, or a stainless steel bezel with blue ceramic insert. It has unidirectional ratcheted, indexes and Super-LumiNova® coated rider tab numerals. It also comes in an 18 k red gold case and 18 k red gold bezel with brown ceramic insert.
The models all come with a black, blue, or brown dial with silver contrasting chronograph counters, and Super-LumiNova® luminescent indexes and hands. The watch has a screw-locked crown with two gaskets and is water resistant up to 200 m. It’s encased in cambered sapphire glass, glareproofed on both sides. The chronograph is column-wheel, vertical clutch, with 1/4th second, 30-minute, and 12-hour counters; the display features hour, minute, second, date window (the blue/black ceramic and blue/black dial models also feature the month and moonphase functions). Inside, beats a Breitling Manufacture Caliber 01 with a self-winding, mechanical movement (frequency 28,800 a/h or 4 hertz), and a power reserve of 70 hours.
The strap with the UTC module is a stainless-steel Rouleaux bracelet with folding clasp. It can also be a stainless steel Rouleaux bracelet with butterfly clasp or colour-matching Rouleaux-inspired rubber strap with folding clasp. For the 18 k red gold model it’s an 18 k red gold Rouleaux bracelet with butterfly clasp or brown Rouleaux-inspired rubber strap with folding clasp.
For the UTC module:
For those wanting something extra special, there’s a black dial version with a UTC-module embedded in a Rouleaux bracelet. Referring to Universal Time Coordinated, this provides a way to keep track of a second time zone and is a quirky Breitling feature dating back to the 1980s. The case is stainless steel with a diameter of 26.1 mm and thickness of 6 mm. It’s water resistant to 200 m, and has a black dial with Super-LumiNova® luminescent indexes and hands. The movement is quartz, Breitling Caliber 61, with a battery life of 60 months. The glass encasing is in flat sapphire, glareproofed on both sides, with a non-screw locked crown, and fixed stainless-steel bezel with numerals.
The Breitling Super Chronomat 44 Four-Year Calendar with an 18 k red gold bezel with blue ceramic insert
THE BREITLING SUPER CHRONOMAT 44 FOUR-YEAR CALENDAR
As its name implies, the Super Chronomat 44 Four-Year Calendar has a semi-perpetual calendar mechanism that needs adjusting just once every leap year – or every 1461 days. It comes in two versions: black dial with tone-on-tone chronograph counters, a stainless-steel bezel with a black ceramic bezel insert, and 18 k red gold elements, or blue dial featuring tone-on-tone chronograph counters and a bezel in 18 k red gold with a blue ceramic insert. Water-resistant up to 100 meters, this timepiece is powered by the Breitling Caliber 19, a COSC-certified chronograph movement with a semi-perpetual calendar with day, date, month, and moon phase indicators.
It comes with a stainless steel Rouleaux bracelet with butterfly clasp or black Rouleaux-inspired rubber strap with folding clasp. For the model with a 18 k red gold bezel with blue ceramic insert, the strap is a two-tone Rouleaux bracelet (stainless steel and 18 k red gold) with butterfly clasp or blue Rouleaux-inspired rubber strap with folding clasp.
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