Flying the Breit skies
ARTMAGEDDON - Igan D’Bayan (The Philippine Star) - August 28, 2015 - 10:00am

Aviation is about freedom, aviation is a lifestyle,” says Alexander Melchers, director of C. Melchers Singapore, at the viewing of Breitling’s Baselworld 2015 collection at the newly refurbished Breitling concept store in Greenbelt. Melchers’ company based in Singapore is the exclusive distributor of Breitling in Southeast Asia.

It’s how Europeans and Americans regard flying. In Asia, we mostly equate aviation with airports, connecting flights, miles, baggage allowance, inflight service, etc., but In Switzerland (where the brand heavily associated with aviation comes from) flying one’s own plane can be compared to, well, riding a Harley-Davidson, imagining Steppenwolf guitars chugging in the background, and easy-riding into the sunset.

“It’s about letting your hair down and putting on a leather jacket — whether you enjoy watching it or actually taking part in it,” shares Melchers. It’s the underlying message behind the Breitling name: freedom.

“And it’s liberating. The sky’s the limit. Notice that the blue in a Breitling watch is nicer than the others? It’s because of our pilots who get close to the sky.”

“Breitling’s DNA centers on aviation,” explains Lucerne managing director Emerson Yao.

In the early ‘30s, Breitling built on its reputation for precision and sturdiness, enriching its range with a “specialty” that would earn it worldwide fame: onboard chronographs intended for aircraft cockpits. These instruments — indispensable to secure piloting — enjoyed great success with the various armed forces, including the Royal Air Force (RAF), which used them to equip its famous World War II propeller-driven fighter planes.

During the ‘50s and ‘60s, Breitling played a key role in the boom of commercial aviation, as its onboard chronographs became standard equipment, first on the propeller-driven planes and later on the jet aircraft of many airplane manufacturers and airline companies. The brand thus quite naturally earned the status of “official supplier to world aviation.”

Yao says, “Today, the brand maintains its in-house set of jet planes.” The Breitling Jet Team — which competes in airshows such as the Reno Air Races and the Red Bull Air Race under the Breitling colors — put on an aerial show two years ago at Clark Air Base. Heck, brand ambassador John Travolta flies his own plane.

 

 

And that alliance with aviation is reflected in the luxury watch brand’s concept store in Greenbelt. The 31 square-meter store is decorated with aviation-themed Pop Art paintings by American artist Kevin T. Kelly to highlight Breitling’s aeronautical heritage, its technical vocation as a specialist in chronographs, and the brand’s instruments for professionals.

On view at the store is a comprehensive collection of Breitling timepieces, from the classic Navitimer and Chronomat collections to the Breitling for Bentley professional range. There are around 130 Breitling timepieces in numerous versions: from the classic to the more forward-thinking models — which may or may not be futuristic.

The Lucerne man has noticed how the latest models of watch brands such as Breitling are going the minimalist route. He says, “They’re characterized by simple lines, more classic. We hear terms such as ‘homage’ or ‘going back to one’s heritage,’ so I suppose that’s the next phase for the watch industry. Everybody going back to its historical pieces.” 

Breitling sales director Peter Wong, who has been in the watch industry for 35 years, agrees. “At the end of the day, our platform is being a chronograph watch specialist.” The pillars of the brand, he adds, are about Breitling being the inventor of the modern chronograph and its authentic association with aviation. 

Wong concludes, “We also have this obsession with quality. In every watch that we manufacture, every new model we come up, there are those tiny little details that we always look into.”

Precision, freedom… these are ideas you can fly with. 

* * *

Breitling is exclusively distributed in the Philippines by Lucerne. The Breitling concept store  is at the ground floor of Greenbelt 5, Ayala Center, Makati City.

ACIRC AIRCRAFT OWNERS AND PILOTS ASSOCIATION ALEXANDER MELCHERS AVIATION AYALA CENTER BREITLING EMERSON YAO KEVIN T MELCHERS SINGAPORE POP ART QUOT
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