Balancing between heritage, modernity and being relevant in today’s market Guy Bove, Breitling’s Creative Director, shares the story of the Navitmer 8.
When designing, how challenging is it to stay true to your heritage and remain modern and appealing?
It is challenging. One of the things I’ve noticed with Breitling is how proprietary people feel about the brand. We have a lot of collectors who really love the brand so they are expecting a lot. We have a lot of customers who see a different side of the brand and they’ve seen cool things that have been happening over the last decades with aviation, so to bring everything together and keep it exciting and keep the heritage intact is tricky.
Tell me about the development of Navitimer 8?
The first phase was easy as we had an action plan on the wall and they told me to look at cockpit clocks from 1930’s and put it on the wrist. But to go from that to a wristwatch, that’s where a lot of work came in.
We knew that you’d be launching a ladies line by the coming fall. What do you consider when developing a women’s watch while the perception of Breitling is a masculine brand?
My feeling is that it’s more than a masculine brand, it’s a brand that’s known for tool watches and the women who wear Breitling today wear strong watches. They’re not dainty. The watch has to have a character and we had very cool women wear watches in the past so my idea was for them to be still recognisably Breitling and not trying to cross over to another brand but at the same time, for strong femininity to come through.
With Basel coming up, what is the message we will see?
You will see the work we’ve been doing on the brand image and of course the main novelty is the Navitimer 8. We are also working on facelifts of other products. You will see a coherent design language, which is very clean, working on colour schemes that will be interesting for today’s market.
What is more challenging, to facelift a product or create a new one?
It’s the same. It doesn’t matter how many steps there are to the final product, the proof is in the pudding.
How many sketches did you do for the Navitimer 8?
Not many. I don’t do a lot of sketches, I work on the computer a lot just so I can build up a watch around the wrist and fit around the movement, to get the size of dial I want and work on small the details. Sketching is great, but to transfer that onto the metal, I’d rather start directly on the metal. I do a few sketches to show our CEO Georges Kern, a couple of sketches of the dial, but bear in mind we are starting with a dial heavily inspired by a cockpit chronograph so it’s about applying that and building a watch around it. The Dial is very close to the original, the case took a bit of work but I knew where I was going. It’s made a little bit more tough, as flying a plane in those days was a bit more dangerous so I’m thinking action heroes before there were action heroes. There is a lot of work to keep the genes that work for the future and takes you back to the past.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
I don’t only work on the products; I’m a Creative Director across the board so it’s keeping everything aligned so you feel the vision. It’s coherent in what you see in the catalogue and what you see here, it is all one brand.
What’s an element that’s not there that you’d like to see at Breitling?
For it all to become coherent but also that people find the brand relevant for today and that today we manage to make people aware of the whole history behind the brand, which is massive. There are so many inventions; the products are really cool, so I think if we can get all that across I’ll be very happy with what we’ve done.
What’s on your wrist now and why?
I’m one of those people who don’t wear a watch. At one point I realized the watch I was wearing was sort of the benchmark of what I was designing everyday and I didn’t want that to be the case. I also got used to not wearing one.
Which is your favourite from the Breitling collection?
I think the coolest watch is the 1950’s Super Ocean. The original one really stands out.
Are you exploring more strap options for the Navitimer 8?
We are working on some cool straps for people who like to change.
When you’re designing, where does it start?
It has to look like a Breitling. The most important thing for me is to create in my mind a mood board. Who is the person who will be interested in this watch? What’s his life like?
How would you describe Breitling in three words?
Strong, technical and cool and if can use four – exciting.