Usually associated with the world of aviation and readily so, Breitling has spread its wings over the last two years to go wherever its action-packed models take it: land, sea and, of course, the oh-so-familiar skies.
The word ‘Breitling’ has long conjured up images of aircraft and aerobatics. This is hardly surprising, given that the brand was involved in the first functional development of the chronograph in the 1910s, and went on to successively release the Chronomat in 1942 followed by the Navitimer 10 years later. In other words, two models that marked the history of aviation thanks to their integrated slide rule. In the last two years, Georges Kern has encouraged Breitling to spread its wings. “We occupied a niche market, particularly as far as aviation was concerned,” he explains when evoking the house’s new strategy. “But Breitling – one of the last independent Swiss watchmaking brands – has an incredible history of creativity and innovation that dates back to 1884 and goes far beyond the scope of pilot’s watches.”
Building on its legitimate assets and naturally bringing them together, Breitling set off to conquer the world supported by its ‘squads’ of outstanding figures in a range of disciplines that include surfing (for the sea), exploration (for the land), and jets (for the sky). Wherever a robust, precise and reliable watch is needed, Breitling wants to feature as a must-have. This objective has been achieved: the brand and its historic selling points are convincing, which is what creates that vintage touch that is so perfect for traditional collections. And to demonstrate that although aesthetics are important, watchmaking principles are equally prized, the house has abandoned any leanings towards electronic movements, with the exception of its professional timepieces, including the famous Emergency watches, which have literally saved lives.
Georges Kern, CEO
Number of employees
Navitimer, Superocean Heritage, Premier
From CHF 3,000 to 10,000
Form and function
The recent Premier Norton Edition is an excellent example of this new terrain-led approach. Inspired by a piece from the 1940s, it is in keeping with a spirit that reflects ‘everyday elegance’. And because style and adventure go hand-in-hand at Breitling, the chronograph version in this range has been chosen to extend the partnership between Breitling and British motorcycle manufacturer Norton. Speaking of class, it can come as no surprise that Breitling and Norton, founded in 1884 and 1898 respectively, are two of James Bond’s favourite brands; the former appeared on 007’s wrist in Thunderball (1965), while the latter roared forth in Spectre (2015). In terms of power, this chronograph is driven by the flawless manufacture B01 calibre, which is covered by a reverse panda bicompax dial. It is worn to best effect atop a limited-edition Norton Commando 961 Café Racer MKII Breitling motorcycle.
Breitling gives us the same unparalleled adrenaline rush both on land and in the skies. For its first ‘capsule collection’ (produced for a limited period, and therefore in limited quantities), Breitling has chosen to celebrate the golden age of commercial aviation with a series of Navitimer 1 Airline Editions dedicated to the most emblematic airline companies. The collection took off with Swissair, before cruising along with Pan Am and TWA. “For fans of aviation history and watches, just mentioning these legendary airlines evokes the excitement and adventure associated with long-haul flights,” explains Georges Kern. To keep this nostalgic passion intact, Breitling is offering Navitimer models in retro 1960s and 1970s styles, driven by the B01 calibre and equipped with the emblematic slide rule. Enjoy the flight !
Superocean Heritage II Chronograph 44 Ocean Conservancy Limited Edition in steel with silver dial and blue-striped satin NATO ECONYL® strap.
Breitling has an ace up its sleeve when it comes to diving: the Superocean, created in 1957 for professional divers. The model was not, however, to be confined to devotees of the deep. Yachting and water sports fans quickly made it a sports watch that was prized for both its style and performance. So what could be more natural than to give this diver’s timepiece a new lease of life in the form of the Superocean Heritage that revives the 1950s design? And it is this latest model that has been chosen to mark the partnership between Breitling and the Ocean Conservancy, whose missions to protect marine ecosystems and clean up the world’s beaches it shares and supports. The watch is equipped with an ECONYL® strap, made from recycled nylon fishing nets. This innovative material also highlights the connection between Breitling and Outerknown, a sustainable clothing brand co-founded by ‘Breitling Surfer Squad’ member Kelly Slater.