The watch world is obsessed with whether a pre-owned watch on the secondary market has its original box and papers. For rare vintage models, the “complete set” can add as much to a watch’s value as a fascinating back story.
But Breitling is swimming against the tide of brands wanting to make evermore luxurious and substantial packaging by selling watches later this year without boxes or papers.
In an Instagram Live interview with Watchonista yesterday, Breitling’s chief executive Georges Kern said that he “wants to sell watches, not packaging.”
“The consumer is changing. We are far away from the 1980s when luxury was something that only the super rich would wear. Today it is more democratised. Everybody has become more relaxed about luxury,” he suggests. “Luxury has to be more informal and should not be damaging to the environment. We have to reset,” he adds.
Mr Kern is convinced that this reset will see the dominance of some brands eroded while others rise. “Brands that were super successful in the past may not so so well, other brands that reflect these values [of today’s consumers] will do better,” he predicts.
The chief executive describes the launch of Breitling’s new concept for packaging later this year as one of the biggest events in his calendar. “We are currently reviewing the concept but will move towards selling watches in pouches that are made from recycled materials and can be recycled again. There will be fewer papers with the watch because all of the information will be provided digitally,” he explains.
In March, Breitling launched its latest Top Time watch with a blockchain-based digital passport attached that confirms the authenticity and ownership of the watch throughout its lifetime and be tied to the watch’s digital warranty.
Old school collectors need not panic that the era of Breiling’s big box packaging is completely over. Mr Kern says there will be the option to request traditional packaging in return for a donation to organisations such as those replanting trees in places like Australia after its recent bush fires.