Shopping Breitling’s NYC Outpost

A vintage Breitling on display in the company's 57th Street shop.

A few weeks back I got an invite to meet the new Breitling USA President, Thierry Prissert at the watchmaker’s new boutique on 57th Street. Me being someone with a fairly shallow knowledge of Breitling, it seemed like a good opportunity to learn about a very historic brand straight from the head of the company.

Honestly, what I had been expecting to see at Breitling was a lot of very very large brutish watches that don’t appeal to me. Upon visiting the shop and seeing the collection, my preconceived opinion was partially confirmed. But more surprisingly, Breitling also has some very classic looking timepieces that I would definitely want to own.

The new store is a massive multilevel space filled with pop art and basically the entire collection of Breitling watches. The boutique is an impressive and elegant space – I really liked it. The majority of the collection is lined up across the main wall in motorized glass cases that raise and lower when the presence of a security key sensor is near. (Also note from that last link that the staff is not at all terrible looking.) It’s worth looking at a watch just to see this system operated.

A couple of the watches that I am most interested in from Breitling are the Montbrillant Datora, the Navitimer (which is a classic) and the best of the bunch, the Transocean Chrono which features the company’s very own in-house movement. Not to mention all of the great vintage that is out there from the watchmaker’s long history. With the Transocean Chrono, it looks as if Breitling could be on the right track.

Transocean Chrono in Rose Gold

In addition to all of the new offerings, the boutique also houses an impressive archive collection of vintage Breitling timepieces. The below pictures represent some of my favorite pieces from this archive. Amazing to see the normal-sized roots and beauty of the brand.

Comments on “Shopping Breitling’s NYC Outpost

    mat buckets on September 28, 2011 4:58 PM:

    these all look really hansom, my fav would have to be the brown strapped one with the white face.

    Duncan on September 28, 2011 5:08 PM:

    Some of the classic pieces do look pretty nice I must say, but I think the brand has been soiled in a similar fashion to TAG with over the top branding, etc.

    When I think of Breitling, I think of massive, excessive really, giant tool watches, with too many gee-gaws, overly fussy faces, and paid celebrities in the background-e.g.-profession pilot, career actor. Gee okay, if they say so.

    Alex Frankel on September 28, 2011 5:09 PM:

    That Transocean Chronograph is a beaut. I’m a sucker for brown leather and rose gold on watches.

    Jeff on September 28, 2011 8:26 PM:

    The watches are pretty big, and could be described as brutish, but they are form follows function. The roots are in chronometers and made big for timing purposes. Basically a stopwatch to be worn on the wrist.

    I agree that some are too heavy on the stop watch side (size wise), but if you enjoy all the rings of measurement, dials, etc. then they are amazing, e.g. the Datora (though the band is not that great in my opinion).

    nick on September 28, 2011 11:01 PM:

    wow, that rose-gold piece looks amazing.

    Rob on September 29, 2011 1:02 AM:

    Vintage pieces look great. They really knew how to make a great watch back in the day.

    Ramalhoni on September 29, 2011 7:10 AM:

    I has the exact same opinion about the Breitling watches..I thought they were a little bit to much. But I have been paying more attention to the brand, and I’m liking there pieces more and more.
    The Navitimer is also my favorite, I love the old aircraft pilot feeling that it has. I’m saving for a IWC Portuguese, but for the next one, a Breitling could be a valid option…

    Leah on September 29, 2011 10:24 AM:

    My boyfriend has had a Breitling for years, it was given to him by his father. I have no idea of the model but it isn’t brutish in any way, it’s a fairly standard size for his wrist. He and my father bonded over their watches when they first went to dinner and realized they both had Breitling watches on. As my father said then; he would never wear a Rolex, vintage Breitling has always seemed a little more covert an option for a nice watch. Then again, in the UK, Breitling don’t have as much of a presence as they probably do in America.

    Phillippe on September 29, 2011 10:33 AM:

    If you consider Breitling to be purveyors of Brutish watches I’d suggest your horological experiences are rather limited. Sure they do some big watches, but no way near as bad as Panerai, U-Boat or Bell & Ross. Also Breitling’s big watches tend to be functional pieces as opposed to show pony chronographs.

    TMH on September 29, 2011 4:23 PM:

    I sold Breitling watches 25 years ago, while on a hiatus from my family business. Rose Gold was always my favorite. They had it in a cube out on the floor. I wish I could tell you the model but it was the 80’s and I don’t remember that much.

    Todd M. on September 29, 2011 4:45 PM:

    Breitling is overpriced especially considering raw movements are obtained from ETA and Valjoux and are modified in the Breitling Chronometrie Workshops. Breitling now makes a manufacture movement the Chronomat B01., designed, manufactured and assembled in-house; but again I believe it is well over priced. Being a collector of watches, both modern and vintage, I must say the industry hast lost some of it’s magic. Not many manufactures today excite, besides Patek and Vacheron. However, I am beginning to grow fond of a few boutique manufactures, especially Frederique Constant.

    Ray Hull on September 29, 2011 5:07 PM:

    I’m trying to recall my more attentive collector days when my watchmaker told me to avoid one of the middling 1940s chronometers–it wasn’t Brietling–but one in their peer group–that had leather parts in the movement. Needless to say, their “vintage” models didn’t run too well.

    I’ll also echo the above comments on ubiquitous ETA ebauches etc–everybody does it, even IWC; they try to rarify them by finishing them with their own parts, but that’s like claiming a Ford Police Interceptor is really a special police car, not just a Crown Vic cum light show.

    And as for TAG Heuer marketing, One question: Why not lose the TAG now that they’ve lost The Group? The original Heuer sounds so much more, well, Swiss.

    Todd M. on September 29, 2011 6:13 PM:

    @Ray Hull

    He must have been speaking of the watches in Switzerland at the time that were mass produced for the G.I’s and were meant to last for a few months at the most. I believe Chrono-Suisse was one of those brands. The funny part is, many of these watches are still running today with their original movements. I myself happen to have several of these supposed throw-away watches.

    Moldy on September 29, 2011 11:23 PM:

    The Police Interceptor is a special car compared to the crown vic. Heavy duty suspension cooling alternator tires etc.

    jiheison on September 30, 2011 2:08 PM:

    I heard that in addition to using movements from the likes of ETA, a few of these so-called “luxury” brands don’t even mine their own gold. Caveat emptor.

    Habitually Chic on September 30, 2011 3:44 PM:

    I have a vintage Breitling watch from the early 1940’s in rose gold with a brown leather strap similar to the Transocean watch. It belonged to my father’s uncle and I’m now “borrowing” it from my father. I went to new Breitling store to learn more about it and they could not have been nicer. For a watch that is nearly 70 years old, it works remarkably well and I love wearing it. So much so that my poor father is probably never getting it back!

    Smith & Ratliff on October 1, 2011 5:48 PM:

    The first watch is stunning, and I don’t usually like Breitlings.

    ben s on October 7, 2011 7:48 PM:

    So if Breitlings, IWCs, etc are over priced what is a watch company that makes a watch as good looking as the Breitling Transocean that is not overpriced?

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