A STAR-STUDDED NIGHT – Breitling marks its entry into China with a dazzling red-carpet gala celebration. Riga Ramadhan reports from Beijing
Last november, Breitling, the Swiss luxury watch manufacturer known globally for its prestigious and high-performance timepieces, boldly announced its presence in China with a gala night at Beijing’s Phoenix Center. The event allowed 500 guests to come face-to-face with historic Breitling models, explore the history of the brand and become some of the first people in the world to witness the debut of the brand’s newest collection.
Fortunately, I had the opportunity to be one of around 100 media representatives to roam around the gala. Below are some of the highlights from the show.
Inside the Phoenix Center, the stunning decor recalled Breitling’s worlds of air, sea, and land, and created an atmosphere of elegance and intrigue. stirring, evocative live music was performed by the Beijing percussion art troupe, which distinguished itself at the 2008 Olympic Games as well as an orchestra consisting of Beijing’s leading virtuosos. The dramatic musical interludes complemented the venue’s aura and punctuated the evening’s festivities.
After guests were ushered into the dining room, Georges Kern, Breitling’s CEO, began to speak. We were then taken on an even bigger journey through everything the brand was, is and will be. Of particular note, the watches that got the biggest reaction come from the new Breitling Premier collection, which underpinned the brand’s connection to its land environment and expresses an important part of Breitling’s current mission statement: to create timepieces for men and women of action, purpose and style.
The original Premiers were launched in the 1940s, were Breitling’s first truly elegant watches and were a much admired as it introduced a fashionable flair that complemented the “instruments for professionals” for which the
brand was already well known for. This range included everything from beautifully designed range of chronographs to automatics and day-dates. The flagship model is the premier B01 Chronograph 42, equipped with the in-house Breitling manufacture Calibre 01. One of the standout pieces in the family is the premier B01 Chronograph 42 Bentley British racing green, a chronograph that honors Breitling’s partnership with the great British automobile brand.
As the night continues, Kern introduced his brand’s celebrity guests, including Australian Surfers Squad member Sally Fitzgibbons and renowned photographer Peter Lindbergh, along with two members of the Breitling Cinema
Squad: Daniel Wu and Brad Pitt.
Speaking of Breitling’s Squads, this imaginative idea involves creating threeperson groups (the Squads) whose members are all recognized masters in their respective professions. rooted in the dynamic values of the brand—action, purpose and pioneering spirit—this concept focuses on the bond created between people brought together by a shared endeavor and a common goal, and will be presented in Breitling’s advertising campaigns.
“The same applies for each of the squads. We are going to launch several of them, covering different areas of activity linked to our thematic worlds: air, sea, and land. Our squad members will be absolute masters in their respective fields,” said Tim Sayler, Chief Marketing Officer from Breitling, in a separate interview.
Back to the presentation, we were confronted by beautiful images of watches, planes and, of course, movie stars. photographer Peter Lindbergh appeared on screen to tell us how much fun he’d had shooting with the likes of Adam Driver, Brad Pitt and Charlize Theron for the Breitling’s Cinema Squad campaign. The three had worked together on Breitling’s 360-degree #squadonamission campaign earlier in the year, and after watching short films covering the Cinema Squad photo shoot, they shared anecdotes from the experience.
“It’s great to be here in Beijing with Breitling. The brand is undergoing a transformation while also incorporating its history into the designs and i’m enjoying being part of it,” said Brad Pitt. Daniel wu is also enjoying his new role as a member of the Cinema squad and told the audience: “I think you’ve seen that the Breitling campaign is unlike anything being done by anyone else. It’s very effective, but i hope you can also get a sense of how much fun it is.”
Breitling has built a significant part of its international reputation on its iconic pilot’s watches, including, notably, the navitimer. At the gala night in Beijing, the brand previewed two special pilot’s watches that will be launched next year, commemorating the history of the legendary Curtiss P-40 Warhawk fighter plane. On hand to help celebrate were pilots from two different generations, Taylor Stevenson and 93-year-old Ollie Crawford, the oldest living pilot to have ever flown a P-40.
“Tonight marks the beginning of a new chapter for Breitling in China, and we are incredibly excited,” explained Kern. “We are thrilled to give you a look into what we call our legendary future, focusing not only on air but also on sea and land, together with our Breitling Squads, which include some of our most important partners, ambassadors and friends.”
To round out the evening, Kern, Pitt and Wu, in true show business fashion, posed with photographer Peter Lindbergh for a selfie. As Kern pointed out: “I can’t think of anyone in the world better qualified to take this picture.” The orchestra and drummers had saved their most dramatic piece for the end of the night, and, as the guests departed, there was no doubt in their minds that Breitling had arrived in China.
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