Breitling is not participating in this week’s Watchesandwonders.com marathon of webinars.
Instead, it chose to get its major launch for this spring and summer out early with a movie in which CEO Georges Kern stepped back in time to speak to Breitling’s founder and descendants who steered the brand from the late 19th century, and asked them what they thought of a new family of Premier Heritage chronographs.
In a Corder’s Column from earlier this year, in which I despaired at the soul-sapping acceptance of webinars as launch ‘events’, I asked for a bit of theater.
And here Mr Kern delivered, using green screen CGI and animatronic technology to bring conversations to life between Mr Kern and what he calls the Founders’ Squad comprising of Léon, Gaston and Willy Breitling.
Mercifully, the video was only 10 minutes long and, cleverly, if you watched it on the Breitling website, you could instantly pre-order one of the new Premier chronographs, which are expected to hit retail before the end of April.
Almost nothing was said about the watches; recognition perhaps that customers get precious little help to know how they look and feel through the medium of Youtube.
Breitling is keen to connect its current collections to its 137 year history, so drawing a line between the Premier Heritage chronographs and the family that created the company made sense.
The watches pick up on the fast-growing trend for colorful dials, with options in pistachio green, cream, navy blue, black and copper.
Expect to see this from many brands this year as the success of last year’s Rolex Oyster Perpetuals in multiple dial colors spreads.
Watchmakers seem increasingly obsessed with selling more watches to a never-increasing pool of collectors rather than drawing in new customers, and making watches that can be bought individually but build up into a set is part of that process.
There are versions in 40mm rose gold or steel cases.
Entry level is the steel Premier B09 Chronograph 40, at $8,400, which has a central chronograph seconds hand along with a 30 minute counter and small seconds sub dials.
Inside is a Breitling Manufacture Caliber B09 with 70 hour power reserve. This steel version comes in green, blue or copper.
A Duograph, using the B15 calibre, has a split second chronograph complication.
Step up to rose gold and the price increases to $20,200 for 42mm Datora Premier Heritage models with the same Caliber B09 movement, or $25,650 for a moonphase edition with day, date and month driven by the in house Caliber B25 movement, also with around 70 hours of power reserve.
There are also steel versions using the B25 and costing $12,950.
Breitling has said it is likely to hold four summits per year, and cannot wait to host them in person with a crowd. These summits have been a successful project since Mr Kern took over as CEO, but he is proving that he and his marketing team can beat rival watchmaking brands in both the virtual and physical world.