Flying in a silver dream
ARTMAGEDDON - Igan D’Bayan () - August 3, 2011 - 12:00am

Thank you for flying Breitling,” so goes the line at the end of the AVP for the Swiss watch company.

Lucerne, the exclusive distributor of Breitling in the Philippines, recently invited members of the press for a preview of the Breitling Basel World 2011 collection. And it was quite an air show, so to speak. Not a surprise at all since Breitling creates high-end certified chronometers designed primarily for aviation use. If there’s one specific field where technical precision is key then that would be the discipline where one is hauling metal in mid-air, through the mouths of clouds, across the blue expanse, from the point of departure to the point of arrival.

“‘Two-zero-one-one’ is an important year for Breitling,” said one company executive who flew in from Singapore. The brand is all about technical excellence, he added.


In the world of aviation, technical precision, reliability and performance are essentials. In 1936, Breitling began its association with the Royal Air Force (RAF), becoming its official supplier. In 1952, Breitling created a “wrist instrument” specially designed for pilots and other aeronautical professionals. Equipped with a circular slide rule, the famous chronograph was designed “to handle all calculations linked to airborne navigation: average speed, distance covered, fuel consumption, rate of climb or descent, conversions from miles to kilometers or nautical miles, etc.” The brand became the official timepiece of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the world’s largest association of its kind.

Now it is associated with the best aerobatic teams in the world such as Patrouille de France, Patrouille Suisse, and the Blue Angels, among others. Pilots all over the world have signified their preference for the Navitimer and the Chronomat, both iconic timepieces. Brand ambassador John Travolta is not just a movie icon (landing pop-culture defining roles in Pulp Fiction and Saturday Night Fever), but is also an ardent pilot himself: started taking flying lessons when he turned 16, got his pilot’s license at age 19, and after becoming a Hollywood superstar, built a jumbo jet runway in his Florida home, flying his own airplane to and from different parts of the world. He wears a Breitling. This man’s time is important.

(Talk about precision. Another Breitling endorser is the Michael Jordan of hockey, Wayne Gretzky. “The Great One.”) 

Ocean size: The Breitling Transocean, the classic reinterpretation of iconic ’50s and ’60s chronographs; a pair of Avenger Seawolf Chrono Blacksteel Code Yellow and Code Orange; and the Bentley Barnato Racing watch with its crystal back that echoes the design of the wheel rims on the new Bentley Continental GT

“We don’t use this aviation link as an advertising (slant), but more so as a true, authentic vocation,” the Breitling executive explained, also mentioning how the brand is a hundred percent made in Switzerland. “Every single component — the case, movement, bracelet, dial, hands — is all made in Switzerland.” Not many watch brands can make the same claim.   

Of the many astounding models glinting inside cases at the Breitling display, the brand executive pointed at two series — the Transocean and the Navitimer.

The Transocean design was inspired by the one of the milestone models launched in 1958 — something that conjures fanciful trans-Atlantic flights and going first-class all the way. The Navitimer 01, a favorite among pilots and aviation fans, is now going the extra mile by taking aboard Breitling Caliber 01, which is “the most reliable and high-performance self-winding chronograph movement.” 

Another Breitling executive from Singapore showed off some of the other models. There was the thousand-piece watch, the Chrono-Matic 1461. Another model is the one sport by Herbert “The Flying Fish” Nitsch, an airline pilot who is also a free-diving world-record holder. This dude descended to an amazing depth of 700 feet — on a single breath. Totally! The Superocean and this guy, heck, they’re a match made between the seventh heaven and the seven seas, somewhere in the middle of great heights and extreme depths.

The Breitling watches for Bentley are amazing. They feature ultra-sporty dials; the understated and powerful cases are topped with a broad bezel bearing a raised knurled motif inspired by Bentley control buttons; and the reverse side of the transparent sapphire crystal case-back were made with oscillating weights which look like the wheel rims of the new Bentley Continental GT.

Time machine: The Chronograph GMT is the authentic travel chronograph. It adjusts instantly to the time and date of the place of arrival. This watch is “the new benchmark for all those who want to experience high performance in all parts of the world.”

The tie-up with one of Keith Richards’ favorite automobile brands began in 2003. Both are classy and both have that image of power. “And we share that passion for precision, passion for perfection” said the Breitling executive. 

Lucerne managing director Emerson Yao was pretty excited about the Breitling watches.

“We’ve been distributing Breitling watches since 1990,” Yao explained. “If you looked at the entire Breitling family — from stainless steel, to two-toned to gold — you’d see 200 to 300 different unique models. Every year, there are new Breitling models.”

In the last three years, the brand has established its own movement manufacture. So it has elevated itself as a manufacture — one that is totally independent and produces its movement in-house. This translates into a hundred percent control in terms of quality. 

Yao concludes, “The Breitling watch is very robust. Some watches claim to be ‘sporty,’ but not the way they are constructed. Sometimes they are even very delicate, and you wear them for special occasions. But Breitling is a workhorse of a watch.”

So, you can ride with it into the sunset.

Team Breitling: John Travolta, Wayne Gretzky and Herbert Nitsch have all the time in the world on their hands.

Or fly with it, even.

* * *

Breitling watches are exclusively distributed by Lucerne. Breitling is available at the Breitling boutique in Greenbelt 5, and a Breitling corner at Lucerne stores. For information, call 756-0561 or 728-3838, or visit

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