MISTERWATCH talks to @watchfred about the new Breitling stories for 2020
The new collections presented for this spring are filled with romantic stories. Talking with the most important Breitling collector in the world makes the new watches even more desirable.
Breitling has always been a popular name among watches. Its rich past filled with technical innovations and being the most important chronographs manufacturer for decades has engraved the brand into the world‘s culture. The contemporary history has seen Breitling driving on winding roads, with ups and downs, but constantly among the most sought after watches.
If you think that luck and marketing transformed Breitling into the institution of today, maybe you should meet @watchfred, the most important collector of the brand in the world. “There are brands that have always been on a top position and it is because of a brilliant marketing as well as a very well organised management. But still there are brands that centre around a unique design, a unique model. Breitling has probably the largest catalogue of references in the industry. Breitling is visible in different segments and it is present with many iconic models. During some periods of time, it went a bit away from its core personality, but since Georges Kern has arrived as CEO the brand is for sure becoming more desirable.”
Looking at the new collections just released for this spring, Breitling may be considered one of the most important storytellers from the watch industry. And nothing has been left to chance. @watchfred‘s contribution may be seen and felt in all the details that are very well anchored in the uniqueness of the historic pieces he collects.
“The Superocean Heritage ’57 Capsule Collection” is inspired by a model from a very nice period of time. Back in 1957, Breitling was launching a diving watch that was unique compared to other diving watches in the fact that it had a beautiful design while the rest were producing “diving tools”, big and sturdy. The shape of the Breitling Superocean became a symbol and from divers it went on the wrists of people on the French Riviera. It became a synonym of surfing and nice music. These are the things that come back now with the Capsule Collection. The modern twist of the coloured limited edition represents a piece of good news in the pessimistic world we are living now.”
The new Superocean Heritage is a watch you can confound. The unique bezel and dial and the integrated steel bracelet are only some of the original details taken from the historic model. The slim and elegant presence are part of an heritage that proves once again that Breitling has all the reasons to be a desirable brand. “We needed to keep the elegant design alive and so we made it waterproof to 100 metres in today’s standards. 60 years ago, it was launched as 200 metres waterproof, but by today’s ISO standards would only qualify for a 30 m rating. Doing now more than 100 metres would have turned a slim, elegant Audrey Hepburn into a muscular Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Superocean Heritage 57 was and is meant to be the Audrey Hepburn of dive watches!”
The captivating story continues with The new Chronomat Collection. It was an instant success in 1984 when it was first presented. It was Breitling‘s declaration of a mechanical chronograph in times when all the watch brands were launching thin quartz models. The glory continued well in the 1990s but somehow it went off the list of nice watches even if it was the first to receive the in-house Breitling Caliber 01, 10 years ago. Something was missing. So the creative research of @watchfred makes a difference. Again.
“We tried to do the same thing as for the other models. We went back to the design phase of the Chronomat. It was designed by the Ernest Schneider, the owner of Breitling for many decades. He personally designed the watch and he designed it together with pilots, the pilots of Frecce Tricolori. And many aspects of this watch, like the interchangeable rider tabs were demands by pilots. Some of the pilots said they needed a count up bezel and some others said they needed a countdown bezel, as they considered it much better. And the pilots started fighting while the owner was sitting there listening to them. And then he said: we will do it interchangeable.” Chronomat was the first watch that offered that. This is something we brought back. We have also brought back the elegance of the lines, we brought back the original Rouleaux bracelet that is extremely subtle, comfortable and very unique. It was really going back like with everything we do.”
All the references of the new Chronomat now get the in-house automatic Breitling Manufacture Caliber 01 with a power reserve of 70 hours. The 42 mm diameter case is available in stainless steel but also in stainless steel and red gold. The faces are also meant to impress with versions where the black chronographs counters are contrasting the silver, copper or blue dials. The collection includes a green dial version dedicated to the Bentley partnership but also a 250 pieces limited edition dedicated to Frecce Tricolori, the pilots from where the Chronomat collection started. The extravagant enthusiasts can choose also a full gold version presented on a black rubber strap. And there is nothing wrong with having such a reference here. “A full gold version is not new for Chronomat. There was a gold version offered in 1984 when it was originally launched. It was always had exuberant elegance with a bit of cheerfully ebullient luxury about it. the Chronomat was always a very extroverted watch. Unique in its forms and functions, launched in a time when nobody thought people would want mechanical chronographs again.”
When addressing the women looking for a mechanical watch, Breitling is now offering a new 35 mm diameter Navitimer. It is inspired from emblematic models from the 1950s and inside the case Breitling adds an automatic calibre with a power reserve of 38 hours. “There are issues about the mechanical watches for women and one of them would be adjusting the date, once every two months when jumping from the 30th to 1st. After talking to a lot of women and understanding they don’t like to do adjust the date, we have decided to take it out from the new model. And this way we also got more space on the dial which is somehow limited due to the diameter of only 35 mm.”
The new Navitimer Automatic 35 is available with a case in steel, in steel and red gold and in full gold. And while keeping the Breitling character undiluted, the collection is rich in precious details like mother-of-pearl dials, diamond hour markers and alligator leather straps. @watchfred says he is not a great fan of diamonds but as a personal choice he enjoys most the copper dial matched to the brown alligator strap. “I don’t have an exact reason for this but I would say it is the vintage look that I like most!”
Looking at all the novelties from above, the vintage look makes them some if not the most nice looking Breitlings of the recent period. The vision of George Kern and the vast knowledge of @watchfred are transforming the brand‘s portfolio into a collection of attractive stories. Less versions make room for a clearer message and there is no coincidence that 2019 was the most successful year in all Breitling‘s history. The strategy continues to bring back the glorious days that inspire the beautiful models of today. Simplicity seems to be the secret: “Going back to the roots. Trying to understand what was unique about a specific product and bring it into our modern world.”
By Constantin Baches in direct conversation with @watchfred
You can find more about @watchfred here.