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In a chat with Mitrajit Bhattacharya Breitling Vice President Jean-Paul Girardin says that various certifications for its products are more time-consuming in comparison to its innovations
Let’s begin with your best selling Airborne line which completes its 30th year.
Airborne is really a very important model for Breitling. It is really the symbol of the new take-up of Breitling in 1984, when the mechanical chronograph movement was out of the trend. Ernest Schneider came out with this model, especially for the aerobatic team, the Frecce Tricolori. Since 1984 it has been our bestseller, a well-known Breitling line. For this year, we are happy to celebrate the anniversary with a new re-design of this model. The ChronomatAirborne takes all the key characteristics of the original model, but with a much more modern and contemporary look.
What is new in the new Chronomat Airborne?
In the new Airborne we have two diameters:41mm and 43mm. The big challenge regarding this re-design of the new Chronomat Airborne was to keep the essential characteristics of the original Chronomat to recognise it immediately and also to make it much more modern and innovative in terms of design.
Where have you reached with Emergency II?
It’s very costly to be innovative, especially in that sense because with the Emergency II, we are coming back to Basel almost a year later, and still we do not have it in the market. We are so innovative sometimes that we cannot estimate the long time it takes to acquire the certifications. We are innovative in terms of low power transmitter, special antenna, and also, specifically regarding the rechargeable batteries. The specification for standards to certify the product did not exist.
We have been involved with the team writing the new specification. First, we have to get what we call a letter of compatibility which is an approval of general certification for the satellites organisation which includes the four founding countries, the US, Canada, Russia and France. We are working to get an approval on that before we talk with different national authorities. When we get this letter of compatibility, we can introduce the product in different markets, talk to the national authority about registrations etc. All the formal technical testing is complete now.
The original Emergency was a very successful product, which did a lot of work in saving lives. How did you get those clearances at that point of time?
It was a bit different because at that time, we didn’t claim to be picked up by satellites. The frequency we were using was for the homing, localisation, and now with the new Emergency II we have two frequencies to be picked up by satellites. When the alarm is triggered, we go back to the first frequency for the localisation and homing. Having two frequencies, we have to be first certified by this organisation before being able to enter different markets.
We need to get the authorisation for different countries like European countries besides a waiver from the US. We also have to deal with this kind of administration authorisation. Despite all these processes, it didn’t take us that long with the Emergency.
How do you deal with a situation when you get clearances from different countries say for instance, US and France? If a person goes to France and picks up a watch and returns to the country of origin, will he be able to use it as a watch?
This is an important point. It’s a life safety device. So if you want to be rescued, you need to be properly registered. And the key point is your home address, where you are residing. So if you have a Swiss address, you need a Swiss country code. If you are living in India, you need the Indian country code which we to hope to get. If you go to China and pull the antenna and activate the transmitter, you will be rescued. The point is why do you have to register in your country? It’s because when the alarm is triggered through satellites, the ground receiving station will know that this is an Indian country code. Having known that, it will immediately go to the central towers in India where you are registered.
Then the rescue will start. So it is important for you to know that you should be registered in your home country where you have the address. However, the coverage will be worldwide for the rescue.
How has the last year been for the industry and for Breitling?
It was okay. For us, it was very important to give not only the turnover level but also the volume and that’s what’s we achieved. We want to keep the volume. I think it is not good for any brand to just increase the average price.
How many of your models presently have in-house movements and what is the percentage?
Breitling makes more than half of its production in mechanical chronographs. If you take half of the production, we are producing since last year, more than half of it is in-house movements. We are between 25 per cent and 30 per cent in total. Of course, all the Breitling production is COSC certified. If we talk about just mechanical chronograph, it is more than half, yes.
And what’s your roadmap for the next three to five years?
We are ready to respond to the market demand. We have the people, we have the knowledge. We have everything we need to be able to increase the capacity, if needed.