During the 1950s and ’60s, Swiss watchmaker Breitling (Grenchen, Switzerland) played a key role in the boom of commercial aviation as its onboard chronographs became standard equipment for many airplane manufacturers. The brand eventually earned the status of “official supplier to world aviation,” and, over the years, has gained a cult following of pilots, divers, astronauts, aviation enthusiasts and civilians.
So when the retailer decided to open a 4500-square-foot flagship in New York, it used this history to create an unexpected visual delight inside its 15th international boutique.
“The strategy [of this flagship] is to showcase a complete assortment of more than 900 timepieces in a manner that thoroughly reveals the brand throughout its history to the present, giving our customers the ultimate brand experience,” says Marie Bodman, Breitling’s U.S. president.
Working with Cincinnati-based artist Kevin Kelly, who has been collaborating with Breitling since 2000, a series of pop art pieces depict aviation-inspired scenes in bold blue, red and yellow hues. The artwork – featuring retro women and men (one even sports a Breitling watch) in aviation uniforms and jets weaving through clouds – hangs behind glass watch display boxes and consultation booths. The art juxtaposes with the space’s warm materials, including dark wood floors and paneling, and white-painted brick.
A history wall highlights significant moments and innovations in Breitling’s history with archived photos and framed vintage timepieces. For example, customers may learn about the Navitimer wrist chronograph – the world’s oldest mechanical chronograph still in production.
Breitling says it plans to open two more boutiques based on this design in 2012, in Saint-Tropez, France, and Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Retailer: Breitling, Grenchen, Switzerland and Wilton, Conn.
Design: Frédéric Legendre, Geneva, Switzerland
Architect: Alain Porta Architectes, Lausanne, Switzerland – Alain Porta
Pop Art: Kevin Kelly, Cincinnati