Just recently, we were invited to join the Breitling Roadshow in Zurich, Switzerland. Besides listening to CEO and shareholder Georges Kern during his presentation and celebration diner about the future of Breitling, receiving a lesson or two in design by Guy Bove and a stunning history class by Fred Mandelbaum, I sat with Georges Kern to get some information about the future of Breitling, the collections, selling on-line and certified pre-owned Breitling watches just as his personal instagram account, on which he has become very active.
Without further ado.
Georges Kern Interview
Robert-Jan Broer: What are your most significant objectives for Breitling?
Georges Kern: Globally, the objective is to work out of a successful brand an even more successful brand by carrying it to the next level. The brand is clearly positioned as a pilots’ watch image. It is tremendously successful in the US and in Europe. It has a strong establishment, is monetarily healthy, and profoundly profitable. Based on that, the question is: What do we do next and how might we transform this into a genuinely worldwide brand with a wider offering inside its existing price range? That is the challenge and that is where we put our efforts in.
RJB: Are you not hesitant to offer excessively? To lose identity or a red line in the collection?
GK: That’s a very decent question. It shows how befuddling the whole circumstance is. Weakening is generally due to the way that there is no clear segmentation in the item portfolio. Extending into an elegant or female segment would not be weakening. It’s like saying that Range Rover was diluted when Tata dominated and they launched the Evoque. That is savvy brand working with a decent corporate identity and design. This is the thing that we’re doing. Building a brand with defined and structured product offerings and clear segmentation, yet which is additionally compact and readable – this is the thing that we have to do to stay away from weakening. In a year, the brand will be clearly defined yet broader positioned. .
RJB: What’s your view on selling on-line?
GK: We need to pursue an omni-channel strategy: that means we will work with retailers, establish our own website and collaborate with online-stages. like Mr. Porter. By the day’s end, the consumers doesn’t care where they purchase their Breitling watches. We have to offer them a multitude of possibilities to access the brand. This is our community and the reality of the market. We are relaunching our website and we will dispatch our e-commerce worldwide in a couple of months, remembering for China. Incidentally, advanced change doesn’t just mean e-commerce; it additionally includes the question of how to communicate with the client, how to service the client, how to interact with the client through call centers or marketing. This is the thing that we need to address and adjust. Our item will remain simple, however the environment around our simple watches needs to reply to a computerized world.
RJB: Will you perhaps in the future additionally sell pre-owned or vintage Breitling watches yourself as a company?
GK: You have to differentiate between two things: pre-owned and vintage watches, which are not in any manner the same. There’s a urgent need to structure the secondary market, which today is completely dominated by the dark market, where the consumer doesn’t understand what he’s really purchasing. The watches through these channels are not certified by the supplier and you couldn’t say whether you are purchasing a fake watch or a watch with a defect, etc. There is no secondary market controlled by the brands like there is in the vehicle business with certified items. We need to step in as a supplier and backing authorized partners who need to sell pre-owned watches and we additionally have to develop our own structures to prevent dim market. Furthermore you additionally have to include trade-ins. Somebody purchases a watch and afterward after three years decides to return to a store and says, “I might want a new Breitling now. Would i be able to trade in my watch?” Then it’s pre-owned. We are currently conversing with numerous partners and are confident to before long come up with our own answer since pre-owned watches will assume a significant part in Breitling’s future.
RJB: Which brand do you consider as the brand in pilot’s watches?
GK: The brand with the strongest affiliation and history and the largest number of verifiable items is, by a wide margin, Breitling. It is the pilot’s watch image second to none. Our travel exhibition illustrates this perfectly. It includes, incidentally, the board instruments that Breitling produced during the 30s and 40s, and all the pilot’s watches that are in our assortment. We are the specialists. This is the biggest equity. Also, this is the reason we launched the Navitimer 8 – the current pilots’ watches are very modern, elegant and exemplary – exactly the thing the brand was missing and I think the Navitimer 8 fills that hole in the offering. Whatever we do, I generally need to have a modern Breitling pilot’s watch and a more conventional Breitling pilot’s watch, just as a modern diver’s watch and a more customary diver’s watch. We are expanding upon our set of experiences, which offers significantly more than just pilots’ watches.
RJB: toward the beginning of today I noticed the lifestyle elements included in your disposition sheets for sea, land and avionics. Could you say that the Navitimer 8 is more for people who need the style of a pilot’s watch and the customary Navitimer 1 or B-01 is like an idealist’s watch?
GK: You could say that. It’s an entirely unexpected design. For some, the Navitimer 1 is excessively crowded. With the slide rule bezel it’s a device watch. They need clean designs. Furthermore, you can have a customary pilot’s watch with a clean design, with a turning bezel, however similarly as a marker, as a pointer for distance and time and whatever you need. You are targeting a different clientele.
RJB: Which question has not been asked today, however ought to be answered nevertheless?
GK: I am convinced that every possible question has been raised today.
RJB: There’s no subject that has not been touched today that you believe is interesting?
GK: No, I think, everything has been discussed. What’s more, what we are attempting to do, not just for you and the colleagues from the press, yet additionally for the retailers, is to give you however much data as could reasonably be expected to understand where we’re going. This is a problem with advanced: for example, when you dispatch an item, people see one model, one execution at a certain moment in time. What’s more, this is a minuscule pattern of a universe. Nothing at Breitling is done by chance. I would say that before the year’s over, people will have a clear and tangible understanding of what our identity is and what we stand for.
RJB: On quite a few Instagram posts these days you see likewise negative comments. How would you deal with keyboard heroes, that have every one of these conclusions based on the little snippets they see?
GK: First of all we respect other assessments and honestly speaking some of the post are very moving But when you post a novelty and you have five negative comments among 800 or 900 likes, you have to place it into perspective.
RJB: That’s true. Be that as it may, it can feel irritating sometimes.
GK: If it’s annoying, I delete it from my Instagram account. That is the beauty of dealing with your own record. Be that as it may, if it’s a savvy comment . . . it can happen that I change my brain on a couple of things, based on feedback or interesting comments I’ve had from online media. However, fundamentally, I think everybody agrees with by far most. What’s more, toward the day’s end, the consumers decide. In any case, what is likewise very interesting when investigating online media at Breitling is that we have two entirely unexpected communities. We have Fred Mandelbaum, the collectors, the vintage folks, who are in love with the conventional beautiful designs and chronographs, etc. I’m likewise essential for that gathering. When I joined the company I was bombarded with messages like: “Please, stop all the large watches. Stop all the polished watches. Stop this advertising effort. This isn’t Breitling.” And then we have the current Breitling owners, who are telling me: “For what reason do you dispatch little and traditional watches? They don’t reflect the Breitling image.” And I believe that when you create a really solid brand, your point ought to be to have fans who love both the vintage and the current items with all the stories of the brand. I’d come back to a decent representation from the vehicle business: take a gander at Range Rover. Range Rover was a major vehicle, a four-wheel-drive. The Queen used to drive it through the countryside. Be that as it may, it was a little piece single-minded, very niche and cumbersome. Presently the folks from Tata came and changed it and launched the Evoque and even developed a new Evoque convertible, which, incidentally, targets women. Furthermore, with it, it became a very cool brand. They are not just offering huge four-wheel-drives – they kept them – however they have other offerings under one in number brand umbrella. Furthermore, we are not here to accomplish more of the same. We will keep the oversize items for which Breitling is known, yet we need to add new elements, in the event that we need to fabricate a genuinely worldwide, international brand. Also, for me Range Rover is a genuine example on how brand building should function. It shows how a brand can became attractive for a lot bigger consumer-base than in the past without weakening the brand. To come back to your first question: weakening is making the same item in 50 different executions. Also, this is exactly what we need to maintain a strategic distance from. We need to have a solid versatile brand, with a solid brand umbrella.
RJB: Thank you for your time!
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