Global Vice President Of Breitling Watch Manufacturing: Watchmaking With Pilot Spirit
Breitling may have the most aura exhibition hall in Hall 2013BASELWORLD1: the deep blue ocean background is as good as the tall and handsome model doorman and the brand’s new Emergency II watch (Emergency II). People fix their eyes and locate easily. The ‘Technical Soul’ of Breitling watch manufacturing, Jean-Paul Girardin, the global vice president, sat in an interview with this reporter. ‘Although compared with the Swiss watch industry export statistics, our market share in China is still small. Consumers explain many questions, such as why there are two buttons on the chronograph watch in addition to the crown? Why are there six hands instead of three on the chronograph watch? A watch can tell you the time, but a chronograph wrist Watches also allow you to control time. ‘Letting the cooler community accept Breitling’s’ pilot spirit ‘is Jean-Paul Girardin’s next mission.
’21st Century’: I am curious, it has been 4 years since the first self-made movement of Breitling was released in 2009. What is the current assembly ratio of brand-made movements?
JP: Among them, our self-made movement project started in 2004, and it lasted for 5 years, including 2 years of research and development period and 3 years of industrialization period. Today it can be said that Breitling is fully capable of responding to market demand in a timely manner, allowing self-made movements to account for 50% of all mechanical timing movements of the brand.
’21st Century’: So now the ratio is 50%?
JP: No, this is just capacity. We achieved almost 80% of our target with almost full capacity. In terms of mechanical chronograph movements, more than 50% are now equipped with brand-made movements. In addition, the newly expanded Breitling Precision Timepiece Center in La Chaux-de-Fonds is further increasing its production capacity. If necessary, we can quickly expand the next brand-new Breitling factory.
’21st Century’: Breitling Precision Timepiece Center was built for the development of brand-made movements?
JP: Yes, we built the first building, and then built a second one, dedicated to the development and production of home-made movements. The size of the second building also leaves room for the third building. The production of Breitling’s home-made movements this year has exceeded last year and the number of mechanical chronograph movements we have produced exceeds that of other movements. As I often say: Since we are famous for making professional timepieces for pilots, we should control the whole situation like pilots. We can always go left or right and decide our own direction.
’21st Century’: Can it be said that if the Swatch Group stopped providing watch movements and parts to other brands at the end of 2013, Breitling would be able to achieve the independent production of most watch movements? Are you ready for the worst?
JP: Between 2013 and 2014, we couldn’t promise such things. The fact is that such a rapid decline will not occur, just as Richemont’s sales of watch parts will gradually decline and take many years. We had anticipated this before, and started to develop our own movements about 10 years ago. You know, time is the top priority of any project. It takes years to achieve this capacity: testing machines, adjusting products, training employees, and more.
’21st Century’: If Breitling achieves 100% self-sufficiency, does it also mean that the product price will rise accordingly?
JP: For example, in 2009, our Chronomat equipped with a new homemade movement rose from 6,000 Swiss francs to 8,000 Swiss francs. There is no doubt that the price of the product has increased, but the case and dial are more refined and beautiful, the power reserve of the movement can reach 70 hours, with a vertical clutch system, and a 5-year warranty. Therefore, in general, as production increases, prices will not rise chaotically. Of course, we do not have a farm and we do not mine diamonds or iron ore. In addition, all production of Breitling is completed in Switzerland.
’21st Century’: In addition to mechanical movements, quartz watches have received the same attention in Breitling?
JP: Indeed, so this year we launched Emergency II. You know that this watch cannot be equipped with a mechanical movement. As the first watch with a built-in dual-frequency transmitter, it is usually about the same size as two packs of cigarettes, and we don’t want to just add a strap to the two packs of cigarettes. Breitling wanted to create a watch that would fit on the wrist. For example, if you want to get a very clear image of the landscape, you will definitely choose a 15-megapixel digital camera; if you want to make it more artistic, you will ask the artist to paint the same landscape. Quartz and mechanical watches are two different themes and cannot be compared. Breitling users include pilots, professionals, and business elites. The choice is entirely based on personal preferences, and there is no good or bad. We keep the quartz movement for this reason: it can provide consumers with non-traditional functions not possible with mechanical movements.