As part of their global roadshow for the launch of their new Navitimer 8 line, Breitling recently stopped in New York City to present their latest watches to a group of assembled press and influential brand collectors. The new Navitimer 8 is the first product range to be developed under the guidance of Breitling’s new CEO, Georges Kern, and presents a modern and conservative direction for the brand that hinges on exploring its 60-year legacy in elegant sports watch design. This is the first step in a new long-term plan for one of the world’s best known Swiss watch brands.
Before joining Breitling, Kern was head of watchmaking at Richemont (not to mention previously the CEO of IWC) and under his direction, Breitling is looking to simplify their lineup and divert from the flashy, sometimes needlessly macho image it developed. With a focus on highlighting Breitling’s best work from the 1930s to the 1970s, the next phase will be one that ties directly to their rich history in producing eye-catching, elegant, and fun sports watches. This direction grows from not only Kern’s involvement in reshaping the brand but also in the success of their vintage-inspired Transocean line, which has become a best-seller for Breitling and offers a clear inroad to their design legacy.
The new Navitimer 8 line blends a modern and understated pilot’s watch design with a number of key elements derived from early “Breitling 8” aviation dashboard clocks. It forgoes the distinctive complexity and bezel design of its slide-rule equipped older sibling, the Navitimer 01, an intentional difference Kern feels will help the model appeal to both current fans of the brand and those that have more of an eye for their vintage designs.
With a focus on highlighting Breitling’s best work from the 1930s to the 1970s, the next phase will be one that ties directly to their rich history in producing eye-catching, elegant, and fun sports watches.
Covering 41 to 43mm and spanning a standard three hands with date, a day date, a world timer, and two versions of chronograph (offering both in-house and ETA-based movements), the Navitimer 8 is characterized by its bottle cap–style bezel, sharply cut and profiled lugs, vintage-inspired handset, and the development of a new typeface that will be used globally for all new Breitling models. It also features a new “B” logo that does without the brand’s iconic wings. The result is casual and classic, with a refined and slightly retro feel.
Focusing specifically on a price point between $3,500 and $9,000 USD, Kerns plans to keep Breitling lean and focused, with new designs, a simplified model layout, and an entirely new look for their boutiques and retail spaces (now called “lofts”) all with the aim to ensure Breitling develops, as Kern says, as “an authentic brand for men and women of style, purpose, and action”. Refining the brand into four model ranges (air, sea, land, and all-purpose) should simplify Breitling’s lineup. Future sizing will fall into a range between 39 and 46mm and the brand is planning an entirely new push into women’s watches soon.
For a first step, the Navitimer 8 line certainly looks to have Breitling headed in the right direction. Establishing a new look to compliment the current Navitimer, while offering a range of sizes, functions, and a mix of steel cases, black and blue dials, and special options like the gold/bronze Navitimer 8 B01 and the Navitimer 8 Automatic Blacksteel (which has a black DLC case treatment).
All things considered, Breitling has one of the most amazing back catalogues of any watch manufacturer, and they rank fourth in the U.S. in sales volume. With a new, more refined and focused line, Breitling’s future is bolstered by its past.
Photos by James Stacey.
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