At the Breitling Summit three days ago, CEO Georges Kern announced a slew of changes the company’s adopted since he took office 15 months ago. The first was an introduction to a contemporary Navitimer collection that stems from Breitling’s earliest versions of the watch, alongside the classic Navitimer that aficionados of the brand have come to love. (More on that in the December edition of Revolution Asia.)
The second was a cleanup of Breitling’s varied collections, ranging from the discontinuation of several lines or folding them into existing ones. The Colt and Avenger lines will no longer exist, though we may see them in others. Chronomat, Galactic and Transocean will also evolve and fold themselves into the Navitimer 8 and recently announced Premier collection. And Breitling for Bentley will likewise join the Premier range, while the Professional models will remain. One thing for sure, it looks like the days of big bezels are slowly fading away.
The third is a new Breitling store concept, the Breitling Loft. The conversion of the brick-and-mortar space into a cool, homely and stylish environment that invites consumers in to hang out and discover the history of the brand as well as its existing products. It also ties in with Breitling’s next foray into international e-commerce, either on its own or with pure e-commerce players in specific markets. The Summit coincided with the launch of Breitling’s e-commerce partnership with Alibaba’s TMall in China. It also recently launched the Breitling Loft at Beijing’s World Financial Centre.
The Loft also departs from Breitling’s past store designs, cutting out the vintage-esque artworks drawn from pinup girls of warplane eras. The space, as Kern explains, is designed to appeal to both men and women, just like Breitling’s products.
That doesn’t mean that Breitling is putting aside its association with aviation, however. It’s simply taking that in a different direction, focusing on cool warplane designs rather than the sexy provocative artwork of past eras. In particular, two watches will be launched at Baselworld next year, inspired by an outstanding plane: the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk.
The American P-40 was the one of the most flown planes in WWII and third most manufactured. The single-engine, single seat, all-metal fighter and ground-attacker helped Allied forces secure North Africa, Southwest Pacific and China during the most intense periods of the war. It had the benefit of being a low-cost and rapid manufacture plane, which helped the Allied forces. At the Summit, Kern invited a P-40 pilot, Oliver R. Crawford, to the stage to speak about his experiences flying the plane.
The brand showed off the Aviator 8 Chronograph Curtiss P-40 Warhawk timepieces, which come in two variations falling within the Navitimer 8 collection. One wields the brand’s in-house calibre B01, with a sapphire case back to show off the movement. The watch also boasts artwork of the shark-nosed P-40 printed on the sapphire crystal.
The second timepiece is a chronograph with day and date indications, powered by the B13 calibre (modified ETA, COSC-certified) and features a closed back with the P-40 stamped on the case back. Both bear military green dials and red accents on the 30-minute elapsed counter mirroring the gunning target on the plane. There’s much more to cover; check out out next few issues on print to learn about Breitling’s plans for the coming years.