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Breitling CEO Georges Kern On The Future Of Luxury Retail
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Breitling CEO Georges Kern On The Future Of Luxury Retail

By Gennady Oreshkin
25 Apr 2024
2 min read

Celebrating 140 years of innovation at Breitling, Kern's inclusive and visionary leadership is poised to propel the brand into an exciting future

Georges Kern joined Breitling in 2017 after a super successful 15-year tenure as CEO of IWC Schaffhausen. Under his leadership, Breitling has experienced exponential growth, doubling its turnover over the last two years. He fast-tracked the launch of Breitling’s e-commerce in 2018, which now makes up  over 10 percent of the brand’s total sales. Part of that is down to Kern launching a number of ‘Squads’ made up of celebrities. No longer confined to aviation, Breitling has broadened its spectrum with some of the coolest outdoor sports and making its watches more relevant for Gen Z, particularly women. 

We caught up with Geroges Kern at the bustling Breitling Kitchen in Geneva. Here’s what he had to say about the novel concept of having a restaurant next to the brand’s boutique, the collaboration with Victoria Beckham, Breitling’s USP and more…

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Excerpts from the interview:

 

The future of luxury is about having more touch points other than just the product itself. So, tell us a bit more about the new Breitling kitchen? 

As you know, it’s our 140th anniversary this year, and during the course of the year, we will talk about ‘140 years of firsts’. One of the firsts is the Orbiter 2, which flew around the world with Bertrand Piccard, and we will have a big announcement tomorrow about another expedition of his soon. In September, we're launching some cool, unique pieces, which will be available on the market. At the Breitling Kitchen, we host happy hours with music and DJs, and it’s very animated in the evenings. We are not here to sell watches but, instead, to entertain our clients. We also have a new style of Breitling since we took over six-seven years ago – it’s what we call, “Modern Retro”. Of course, we have our technically advanced products here, but because we have such an exhaustive catalog, we are inspired by the past. The Navitimer, for instance, is the ultimate watch of Civil Aviation of the 50s and 60s. You can also see a limited series of the Triumph motorbike, which we did a couple of years ago. And, instead of engaging with traditional sports like tennis or golf, we’re more into surfing, and triathlon. We try to be outdoorsy but in a cool way.

 

Could you tell us about your collaboration with Victoria Beckham?

We are new to the women’s  market. I would say 80% of our customers are men, but 50% of the population are women, so why not talk to them too? We want to be the cool and relaxed alternative for men and women. Victoria Beckham is very cool herself. She was in entertainment and is now a recognized designer – her fashion shows get incredible reviews. So, we decided to do some cool stuff with yellow gold watches and she’s been leading the design for the same. Because of her persona and who she is, we have had great coverage. 

 

Over the past six years, you've transformed Breitling, which now holds the eighth spot in terms of sales, nearing 1 billion. What do you think is the biggest contributing factor to this?

It's never a single element – it's always a package. I think we have the most beautiful collection in the industry – and this is what counts. We offer classic and modern watches, from traditional watchmaking to electronic professional models. I think the whole concept works well in the boutiques and advertising. We also have great ambassadors, like Brad Pitt and Charlize Theron. Our involvement in different sports, like triathlon, rugby, and surfing, also helped.

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