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Breitling: An Exciting New Direction

Breitling News & Releases

Breitling have been undergoing a change of direction ever since Georges Kern took over as CEO, marking the start of a new era for the watchmaker. However, the former Richemont executive doesn’t want Breitling to lose its core DNA – staying true to the brand by exploring its roots while simultaneously driving it forward into the future, is essential for Kern.

We can expect to see something similar to the work he did when he was IWC’s CEO; instead of appealing to a more niche audience, Kern wants Breitling to lose its exclusivity. This new focus will see them expand their portfolio, enter new markets and revolutionise their aesthetics.

Georges Kern: A Man with a Mission

Georges Kern has many years of experience in the watch industry, having joined the Richemont Group in 2000; in 2002, he became the youngest ever CEO with Richemont when he was chosen to run IWC. In 2017, Kern became Head of Watchmaking, Marketing and Digital at Richemont.

He is now providing his considerable expertise and knowledge to Breitling, intending to promote their global development and focus on their digital and retail footprint. Kern is especially interested in accelerating Breitling’s growth in Asian markets.

He is planning to achieve his vision by overhauling the historic brand, although he doesn’t intend to re-invent the wheel. While part of Kern’s strategy includes new product designs, new advertising campaigns and a stronger emphasis on e-commerce, he sees this more as a change in focus, rather than a complete transformation.

What is Different About Breitling?

Georges Kern has already shown what he is capable of doing by helping to turn IWC into an even more successful brand than it was – he is now looking to do the same with Breitling. The watchmaker is undergoing a massive change that will revitalise its image and reputation, including investing in omnichannel commerce, with a seamless blend of physical stores and virtual platforms. This way, consumers will be able to purchase watches when and where it’s convenient for them.

Some of the changes that Kern is implementing include:

A Change in Aesthetics

Breitling have fans all over the world, many of whom may have been surprised with the changes the brand is undertaking. The simpler designs and the absence of the famous winged ‘B’ may be a divergence from the brand’s usual style, but it’s all part of the new strategy of going back to basics.

Breitling are reverting back to less complex but more dynamic and streamlined aesthetics, in order to simplify the brand’s product lines and cut down on what Kern refers to as ‘visual pollution’. According to him, Breitling had too many choices and too much going on; this visual complexity made it difficult for customers to make purchasing decisions.

More Than Just Aviation

The brand has recently become associated only with aviation and pilot’s watches; while Kern still intends for Breitling to continue developing this part of their heritage, he also understands the importance of going beyond it.

Aviation will no longer be the only theme going forward, as Kern has now classified the watches into clear categories: air, land and sea. This allows the brand to narrow their focus down and neatly group watches in their distinct families. For example, all pilots’ watches will be in the Navitimer line, all divers’ watches in the Superocean collection, and so forth. Breitling have also released their Premier line, an elegant collection of dress watches for everyday wear.

More Mechanical Movements

Kern is interested mainly in mechanical timekeepers rather than quartz movements. The brand will continue to create in-house movements, but there will also be opportunities for outsourcing them within the new strategy – this will help Breitling to stay visible in certain price segments. In order to showcase their B01 movements, the watchmaker will display them through sapphire casebacks.

Vintage But Still Contemporary

With the new philosophy of going back to their roots, Breitling are seeking to return to a more vintage aesthetic while still preserving their forward momentum. As part of this strategy, the watchmaker is redesigning its stores to be more welcoming and relaxed; the idea is to be more informal and ‘cool’, adding industrial and retro touches, as well as accessories such as motorbikes and pool tables.

More Streamlined Collections

Breitling have always been known for their vast selection of lines and timepieces, as well as bracelet styles and colours – however, Kern is looking to cut down the volume of choices available to customers to help solidify the identity of each model and each collection. A bold move, considering other manufacturers appear to be investing in personalisation and strap interchangeability; but Kern has already shown that his bold moves pay off.

New Partnerships

Georges Kern and Breitling are also keen on forging meaningful relationships with well-known brands; while Breitling’s partnership with Bentley will continue, the brand has also partnered with Norton Motorcycles and intend to create a watch collection with a motorcycle influence. The company also aims to give back to society and to support the environment with new initiatives, such as with Outerknown, a sustainable clothing company, and Ocean Conservatory, which fights against ocean and beach pollution. Breitling have already released a Superocean Heritage Outerknown edition using only eco-friendly and recycled materials.

New Breitling Watches

The upcoming Breitling models perfectly embody the new change in approach. This includes the Breitling Aviator 8 Curtiss Warhawk collection, a tribute to US aircraft manufacturer Curtiss-Wright and its famous P-40 Warhawk fighter plane. Rich in heritage but still reflecting the watchmaker’s new aesthetic choices, the three models in the collection are fitting examples of what Kern had in mind when he took over.

The timepieces feature a rotating bezel and a distinctive triangular pointer, as well as a matte finish military green dial and military green strap. There are two chronographs in the line, the Curtiss Warhawk Chronograph 43mm watch with Breitling Calibre 01 (image) and the Chronograph Curtiss Warhawk 43mm model with Calibre 13, both of which are COSC-certified. The collection also comes with an understated three-hand model, the Automatic Curtiss Warhawk Black Steel watch.

Breitling’s new vision is already proving fruitful with the stunning new watches the brand has launched and will continue to release in the future. These changes also appear to be helping Breitling stand out in the horology world, establishing them as pioneers in the watchmaking of the future. According to Georges Kern, a watch is no longer just a commodity, because we don’t need it to tell the time. He believes a watch is a statement which personifies emotions and can also be a source of memories. Breitling’s new mission is therefore to accomplish this, and with Kern at the helm, we have confidence they will achieve it.

At Banks Lyon, we’re excited with the new direction Breitling are taking under Georges Kern, and we’re proud to stock a large range of Breitling watches at our stores. Visit us in Lancaster or Kendal to see them for yourself – or to browse our many other renowned watch brands.