Thierry Esslinger, CEO Breguet

At Baselworld, Breguet devoted a good deal of importance to the announcement of the Race for Water partnership.

We were indeed keen to turn the spotlight on this fantastic project. Breguet has long since been driven by a thirst for innovation, and Nicolas G. Hayek Sr. was extremely concerned with finding technologies designed to safeguard the environment, as expressed through his founding of Belenos Clean Power. It turns out that Race for Water is a response to questions raised by this quest for sustainability, and we realized right from our first encounter with the organization that we shared the same convictions in this regard. It is fantastic to see entrepreneurs such as Marco Simeoni reflect our own aspirations regarding these issues and to be able to undertake a long-term endeavor along with them. Race for Water aims to achieve a blue economy and a lifestyle ideal designed to actively safeguard our planet. We believe in this vision. The Race for Water program is completely defined with 35 stages around the world and specific experiments – all of which does not preclude learning from each other and exchanging views with Belenos, and potentially extending our initial partnership slated to run through to 2021. It would be irresponsible not to champion such a noble cause.

You presented a Marine in titanium at Baselworld : will you be using this material more often in the future ?

Our extremely organized and very effective R&D department has conducted a great deal of research on materials in recent years. We became aware that the classic materials we had traditionally used were a perfect match for our approach to watchmaking, without requiring us to resort to processes that we did not feel were worth implementing. The digression into titanium we have made for the Marine relates to the fact that it is resistant to seawater corrosion, which is of course entirely suited to a collection bearing such a name.

Which do you see as the flagship model among the 27 references in the Marine collection ?

While the Équation Marchante naturally stands out, the Alarme Musicale appeals to numerous customers, as does the Chronograph. One of the major assets of this range lies in the exceptional breadth of its range – a response to expectations expressed by our worldwide clientele. Its innovative design is not necessarily noticeable at first glance, since it involves a large number of small details. By way of example, the ‘tail’ or counterweight of the hand bearing the B for Breguet is symbolized by a reinterpreted maritime signal flag ; the shape of the 1 o’clock numerals evokes a ship’s castle ; the spring-bar screw is inspired by navigational buoys serving to indicate that vessels should enter navigation channels from a westerly direction ; the movement bearing a hand-guilloché double Côtes de Genève pattern is reminiscent of a ship’s deck ; while the gold oscillating weight is shaped like a rudder. From a technical standpoint, the movements of the Marine collection are some of the most advanced, since they incorporate all the breakthroughs achieved in recent years with regard to reliability and performance. As always in the luxury world, everything is a matter of subtlety, but it is well worth taking a moment to admire the chronograph movement: for the very time, the clutch bridge fitted on the clutch lever is made of aluminum so as to reduce inertia and improve resistance to accelerations.

The majority of brands are developing their ladies’ watch range, but that doesn’t seem to be the case for Breguet this year ?

We have been staggered by the success of the Reine de Naples and, for the first time since its launch in the 2000s, we presented at Baselworld 2018 a model based on the original, complete with its moon phase and power reserve. But we prefer to give ourselves plenty of time for the development of the new feminine models planned for next year.

Which are the challenges facing Breguet in the coming years ?

For a House as innovative as Breguet, the greatest challenge doubtless lies in remaining classical, notably in the delicate art of developing special collections. The next decade will doubtless see Breguet choosing to emphasize highly sophisticated horological complications introduced at a brisker pace.

Is Breguet also seeking to address millennials ?

We have in fact realized that our client base is distinctly younger than it used to be, which goes to show that we have been able to reach millennials. Given the fact that the average age of our customers is dropping and that we remain closely attuned to our markets, notably in Asia, we enjoy an ever better understanding of their aspirations in terms of design, as well as with regard to service and communication.

In your view, to which aspects should the world of Haute Horlogerie remain particularly attentive ?

I would say – although things are admittedly easier for Breguet than others in this respect – that luxury brands must remain faithful to their heritage and their principles. Respecting our origins enables us to approach the future with serene confidence. There is nothing worse for a high-end brand than to lose its identity.

Brice Lechevalier is editor-in-chief of GMT and Skippers, which he co-founded in 2000 and 2001 respectively. He has also been CEO of WorldTempus since it joined the GMT Publishing stable, of which he is director and joint shareholder. In 2012 he created the Geneva Watch Tour, and he has been an advisor to the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève since 2011. Also closely involved in sailing, he has published the magazine of the Société Nautique de Genève since 2003, and was one of the founders of the SUI Sailing Awards in 2009 and the Concours d’Elégance for motor boats at the Cannes Yachting Festival in 2015.

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