There may be no better way to make a member of the press, retailer, or collector take notice of a brand than by that brand partnering with a recognizable face. In the case of Swiss watch brand Breitling, the face introduced at September’s “Breitling Summit” in Southern California may very well be one of the most attractive in all of Hollywood: the one and only, Brad Pitt.
The Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills served as an ideal backdrop to the first leg of a two-day event that brought in Breitling retail partners, sales associates, and members of the media from all over the world. Breitling’s recent departure from a struggling Baselworld watch fair seems to have opened up new opportunities for the brand to showcase its big guns – with no guns bigger than on Pitt, himself – in a variety of settings that are more intimate, relaxed, and memorable than a multi-million-dollar booth in the middle of a Swiss trade show held during the winter.
Guests of Breitling were treated to a garden-style outdoor lunch before being escorted into a darkened room and greeted by the brand’s CEO, Georges Kern. Kern quickly took the stage and thanked his esteemed guests before beginning his presentation by reminding those present of the three elements that play a huge part in the Breitling world: air, land, and sea.
When it comes to the air, there are few watch brands that can compete with Breitling for ownership of the skies. For years, the label has associated itself with everything from fighter jets (it has its own team) to astronauts (both Kelly brothers are friends of the brand) and recently, with its promise to put more emphasis on women, it added Spanish pilot Rocío González Torres – a commandant in the Spanish Air Force and the first Spanish woman to log 1,000 hours at the controls of an F18 fighter jet – to its “Aviation Pioneers Squad.” But at this year’s summit, Breitling added an unexpected layer of depth to its aviation-related group of ambassadors. The brand recognized that the “air” world goes beyond machines in which humans can fly and should expand to machines that humans – younger humans, particularly – are able to fly remotely. That’s when nineteen-year-old Luke Bannister joined Georges Kern onstage.
Back in March of 2016, Luke Bannister won $250,000.00 at the World Drone Prix racing event in Dubai, and since then, he has been an avid racer on the drone circuit, winning three consecutive DCL Championships from 2016 to 2018. Bannister seemed thrilled to join the Breitling family and believes the partnership will shed light on a sport that will likely become bigger and more intense with each year that passes. “With first-person view (FPV) drone racing, there are no boundaries – the sky is limitless and my horizons are constantly expanding.” Stated Bannister. “Racing is adrenaline-pumping excitement. There’s always the challenge of learning new maneuvers, tricks in freestyle and perfecting piloting skills. It’s a futuristic sport akin to scifi: it’s dramatic and virtual yet it’s reality – a surreal mix!”
It was during the “air” portion of the presentation that Breitling introduced its newest novelties in its Avenger watch series, the Super Avenger Chronograph 48 and Chronograph 48 Night Mission, the Avenger Automatic 45 Seawolf and 45 Seawolf Night Mission, the Avenger Automatic 43, the Avenger Chronograph 45 and Chronograph 45 Night Mission, the Avenger Swiss Air Force Team Limited Edition, the Avenger Automatic GMT 45 and GMT 45 Night Mission, the Avenger Chronograph 43, and last but not least, the fan-favorite Aviator 8 Mosquito which was inspired by the famed de Havilland Mosquito, a plane constructed almost entirely of wood.
When it came time for Georges Kern to move on to the “sea” portion of the program, he did so with a splash, by introducing seven-time world champion surfer and Australia native, Stephanie Gilmore. Dressed in the most spectacular green suit, Gilmore talked about her hopes and concerns with regard to the 2020 summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, where for the first time in Olympic history, surfing will be a competitive sport. “As surfers, we’re pretty much hoping for a typhoon.” Quipped Gilmore, to the laughter of audience members in attendance.
The demonstrations were followed by a “touch and feel” in the gardens of the property where attendees could try on the new Superocean Outerknown and the Outerknown ECONYL Yarn NATO Strap Collections; all part of the brand’s releases for this particular event, and also part of the Breitling’s initiative to create eco-friendly products that are as appealing to the senses as they are to the soul.
Day fell into evening and evening brought with it a beautiful sit-down dinner al fresco where guests were awed by the discussion between Breitling partner Brad Pitt and brand CEO Georges Kern. But with a three-and-a-half-hour ride north to Lemoore in the morning, many of the brand’s guests called it an early night.
Kelly Slater is as close as it gets to be a household name in the surf community, and with a successful Surf Ranch in Lemoore, California, and plans for a similar type of venue in Palm Beach County, Florida, his name is going to become even more recognizable, surf community or not, which is why being invited as a guest to spend an entire day at the Lemoore location was such a huge deal.
Breitling Summit attendees dined on gourmet lunches at the 20-acre property before signing up for activities such as paddle boarding, jet skiing, and surfing the 6-to-8-foot man-made waves for the 2,100 square feet they’re designed to last. Guests of the ranch were given gift cards to spend on Outerknown merchandise to take home as a reminder of the day they spent watching one of the world’s greatest surfers and some of his guests do what they do best on their own turf.
The 2019 Breitling Summit did what years of being in a booth at Baselworld could not: it created an experience for attendees unlike any they’d had before. It gave each person a moment to call their own and did so while also introducing timepieces that are worth every dollar for which they ask. The brand is alive again, in a way they never were, and the squad who represents them is truly a squad that’s on a mission.