Breitling on a mission to differentiate from its competitors

Breitling CEO George Kern gives a presentation about Breitling’s #squadonamission in Miami at a Road Show in November.

World-renowned Swiss watch brand Breitling revealed its newest collections of premier timepieces and introduced its new corporate logo and #squadonamission advertising campaign at a Road Show in Miami in November.

CEO George Kern hosted a presentation for journalists at the historic Faena Hotel in Miami Beach with the festivities continuing in the evening on the Seafair cruise ship.

Kern, who was named CEO in the summer of 2017, introduced the new corporate identity, which he says pays respect to the brand’s rich history while also looking ahead to the future.

“We now have one generic corporate logo, featuring the B and 1884, with reworked colors. Yellow will continue to be the main color, but we are using a more contemporary and elegant style than in the past,” says Kern.

While Breitling has been traditionally known as a pilot’s watch, the brand makes watches for three divisions- land, sea and air, and actually sells more diver’s watches then pilot’s watches.

“There is a difference between fact and perception. Our best line today at Breitling is the Super Ocean Heritage. It’s booming. It is not typical for a brand like Breitling, but it shows that there is a demand for these types of products,” says Kern.



While Breitling is no longer exclusively a pilot’s watch, the brand’s new #squadonamission advertising campaign does originate from jet squadrons, explained Kern.

“We have developed what we call the “squads” campaign, since we came out of aviation. Breitling remains the number one brand in the world in aviation watches. We have our famous jet team. And jets fly in squadrons, in groups of people. It is how the idea came to develop the squad campaign,” says Kern.

The Breitling squads involves creating three-person groups (the squads) whose members are all recognized masters in their respective professions. The first squad, the cinema squad, featured Brad Pitt, Charlize Theron, and Adam Driver (and in Asia, Daniel Wu).

“The beauty with a squad is that it is a very strong concept. It differentiates us. We’ve tried to avoid the classic themes like Formula One, golf, tennis. To be different we have a triathlon squad, a surfing squad.

“We have an amazing set of ambassadors in this campaign and they are all number one in their field. You might not know them, but that is not the point. The point is that they are authentic, they are real.”



As part of its rebranding, Breitling has been renovating its existing boutiques around the world with a new industrial look and the sales results have been fantastic, says Kern.

“We now have 75 boutiques and we are going to open another 75. We are in the process of renovating or redoing our boutiques. In the U.S. we opened Houston, and Las Vegas. Other boutiques are also under renovation, using the concept of a loft and industrial style. We also introduced brick walls,” says Kern, adding that Breitling saw an increase between 40 and 70% in sellout in any boutique it renovated, in comparison to the old boutique.

The boutiques also help Breitling differentiate itself against its similarly priced competitors, says Kern.

“At the end of the day we want to be the cool and informal alternative to the classic watch brands in the market. Everything we do reflects that idea. Our boutiques are industrial style with a loft and a pool table, a vintage bike, and surf board. That’s the cool alternative to the very strict formal brands out there. It’s an image. You buy a brand before you buy a product.

“I personally think that the boutiques are the single most important element of image changing of Breitling. We are rolling out the boutique concept worldwide. Every week we are renovating or opening a new boutique.”

Breitling has also launched pop-up stores around the world with the same industrial concept including in Singapore, Zurich, and in airports.

Kern says the new look Breitling is now on its ways to rolling out around the world, including airports.

“Last year we had an idea in mind on a paper. Today everything falls together. We have a product. We reworked our corporate identity, we reviewed our advertising. Now the elements of the puzzle are falling together. It will take another 12-18 months to roll it out on a worldwide level, but you see how things are working together.”

        Michael Pasternak