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Breitling turns its back on boxes and papers

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The watch world is obsessed with whether a pre-owned watch on the secondary market has its original box and papers. For rare vintage models, the “complete set” can add as much to a watch’s value as a fascinating back story.

But Breitling is swimming against the tide of brands wanting to make evermore luxurious and substantial packaging by selling watches later this year without boxes or papers.

In an Instagram Live interview with Watchonista yesterday, Breitling’s chief executive Georges Kern said that he “wants to sell watches, not packaging.”

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“The consumer is changing. We are far away from the 1980s when luxury was something that only the super rich would wear. Today it is more democratised. Everybody has become more relaxed about luxury,” he suggests. “Luxury has to be more informal and should not be damaging to the environment. We have to reset,” he adds.

Mr Kern is convinced that this reset will see the dominance of some brands eroded while others rise. “Brands that were super successful in the past may not so so well, other brands that reflect these values [of today’s consumers] will do better,” he predicts.

The chief executive describes the launch of Breitling’s new concept for packaging later this year as one of the biggest events in his calendar. “We are currently reviewing the concept but will move towards selling watches in pouches that are made from recycled materials and can be recycled again. There will be fewer papers with the watch because all of the information will be provided digitally,” he explains.

In March, Breitling launched its latest Top Time watch with a blockchain-based digital passport attached that confirms the authenticity and ownership of the watch throughout its lifetime and be tied to the watch’s digital warranty.

Old school collectors need not panic that the era of Breiling’s big box packaging is completely over. Mr Kern says there will be the option to request traditional packaging in return for a donation to organisations such as those replanting trees in places like Australia after its recent bush fires.

30 Comments

    1. In touch with what world? This isn’t packing that is thrown in the rubbish and ends up in the oceans. It’s saved, enjoyed, kept by the watches owners.

  1. the whole point of a luxury watch is the buying and owning experience, which includes the luxury packaging having somewhere to store the watch if you are a collector, plus thrill of opening something special. This is fine if they want to move the brand out of a luxury segment into more mundane watch segments. I am sure luxury buyers will just swithc to other brands so it wont affect them, maybe with the loss of sales the breitling watches will become more affordable. Anyone remember the elaborate free gifts for owners at watch shows or the amount of promotional stuff they had in retail outlets, there was more from them than most others lol.

  2. About time too- let’s hope the rest of the industry wakes up and does its duty to the planet. After all, all the extra crap is unnecessary and only ends up in the back of the wardrobe or bin anyway & adds nothing to the ownership/buying experience. . Well done Breitling, good to see one of the major players has a conscience.

    1. The packaging, instructions & warranty papers DID add to the overall purchase/ownership experience (Cartier do it particularly well,) however, times are changing & these extras will be less important in the future, but that does not take away from the fun of receiving them in the past. If your comment was true, then there wouldn’t have been a financial premium in having them kept with the watch.

    2. You are not a collector…………………??
      If you are then you are very far removed from me , my friends or collector piers!

  3. I think if they put the watch in a Breitling watch winder box would be useful rather then there cheap cases which
    crack and with out all the Parifenaler, just a certificate card,
    All they heip over watches yes a nice expensive time peice on your wrist with no other jewellery is a statement but I am afraid the internet breeds so called experts.

      1. Just looking to make more dollar are Breitling… as pointed out by previous response the boxes are kept to put watch back into and not discarded.

  4. It seems over the years that breitling have slowly cheapen their package, they us to supply a bakalite box with all the tazzles they they turned to cheap cardboard? Why try for so many years to get the brand noticeable and then throw that effort in the bin, I have had 3 of these watches of the years and they was great but they have gone down hill in my estimation with this idea??

  5. Those boxes disintegrate after a while. Especially the inside. From Blancpain to Breitling. All watches should include a travel pouch instead. Like the ones you receive after repair/maintenance. Breitling is also going away from their cool new luxury style to a bunch of throwbacks of the 50/60s and trying to use a drone pilot and surfer as their sponsor. Bring that bomb girl back and come up with something new. Does everything need to be Retro?

  6. If I am going to spend thousands.. it better look the part! This would keep me from buying Breitling and would go a long way toward diminishing the brand in my eyes. Mistake!

  7. I am saving my pennies for a rather lovely superocean. There are plenty of other very good watches out there but I want a Breitling;. It’s the name, the history, the cache’, the way it makes me feel. Start taking that away, but retain the elevated prices, then I will go elsewhere. Not a good marketing strategy.

  8. Over a period of many, many years when purchasing nearly new, or “as new” watches (now having a collection of 50+) I’ve found that the time-pieces which were in the original packaging and complete with the manufacturer’s paperwork (instructions for the more complex movements and warranty info/cards etc) were in a much better condition than those without. In fact on several occasions, I even received servicing documentation which included time regulation adjustments (x2 Rolex) etc. etc.
    My own experience to date when purchasing used (and often expensive watch brands) has been that in a vast majority of cases, the more of the manufacturer’s packaging and paperwork which was provided to, and kept by the original owner, the more the watch had been looked after and maintained.
    I’ve purchased 2 Rolex watches in the past, both of which were supplied with all the original packaging and paperwork. However, I also viewed 3 others which I walked away from. Just because it’s a Rolex guarantees you nothing. If the case/bracelet are marked, and the movement not serviced, I’ve known situations where the cost of refurbishment and servicing to Rolex factory standards actually exceeded the cost of buying the watch in the first place, and so PLEASE ensure you know EXACTLY what you are about to purchase !

    1. I have also observed that people who keep their boxes and papers for their timepieces tend to take much better care of their timepieces. I suppose that if the person cares enough to retain those things, they will also take good care of their timepiece. I have seen plenty of examples of used timepieces with no box and/or papers and they’re usually scratched up badly or even damaged.

  9. The truth is their modern consumers represent everything their traditional consumers detest. This move will no doubt remove the traditional buyers from their market and breitling hope that they get replaced with the new breed.

  10. Part of buying a watch is the experience.
    The box and packaging are part of the experience.
    Might as well just buy online and have it wrapped it in recyclable paper bag then.

  11. The package is important to watch collectors. I wouldn’t buy a luxury brand watch that didn’t have decent packaging. It’s not disposable cardboard. It’s not being thrown away. His is it hurting the environment? It’s gonna hurt their image as a luxury brand. If they take away $500 from each MSRP I believe they were doing it for the environment, it’s just a way to boost profit margin.

  12. Idea: You offer a “Box Delete” option with every watch purchase. The buyer can decide to get the box with it or not. Maybe deleting it generates a $50 discount (the cost of the box).

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Tags : breitling
Rob Corder

The author Rob Corder