Squad on a mission.
The days when a single celebrity represented Breitling in its ad campaigns are over. With watch industry veteran Georges Kern at the helm, the brand has since adopted what it terms the “squad concept”.
Each Breitling squad is generally made up of three individuals, and are leaders in their respective fields. Thus far, the Cinema, Explorers, Triathlon and Surfers squads featuring A-listers have been formed. The Cinema squad being an exception, comprising not three but four celebrities: Brad Pitt, Adam Driver, Charlize Theron and Daniel Wu. Meanwhile, Bertrand Piccard, David Rothschild and Inge Solheim form the Explorers squad.
“None of the people are fake. They are top performing individuals in their own field who are authentic. This is what is important. The squad idea is about doing more than aviation. We are trying to be different and we are not advertising with one celebrity; we are advertising with a team. Firstly, I believe in groups more than individuals and secondly, it is much more differentiating,” says Breitling’s CEO Kern.
“The idea of a squad comes from aviation,” he continues, “When you fly with our jet team, you fly in a squadron. We thought about our seven-plane squadron and the squad idea came.”
Breitling’s squads work towards a common goal. Their Surfers squad, of which champion surfers Kelly Slater, Stephanie Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons are members, are strong advocates of marine conservation. Their love for the sea is linked to Breitling’s diver watches, the Superocean collection in particular.
The Superocean Héritage II Chronograph 44 Outerknown celebrates the brand’s partnership with Outerknown, a sustainable clothing company committed to improving environmental conditions for the entire planet. The watch features a first for Breitling: the strap is crafted from ECONYL® yarn, an innovative material created from nylon waste, one source of which is fishing nets from oceans around the world. The watch also has a striking black DLC-coated stainless-steel case and a caseback engraved with the distinctive Outerknown logo. The COSC-certified chronometer features an ultrahard scratch- and shock-resistant unidirectional ceramic bezel with a luminescent central dot at the 12 o’clock position – an ideal feature for a diver’s watch. The Super-LumiNova® coating on the dot and the hour and minute hands emits a blue light instead of the standard green, which perfectly complements the watch’s design.
The Superocean Héritage II Chronograph 44 Outerknown is powered by the Breitling Caliber 13 mechanical chronograph movement. The blue dial is distinguished by its matte gray “SuperOcean” inscription, white accents, subdial, and central second hands, while the subdials are characterized by their white accents and black nickel- plated indexes. The familiar B in the Breitling logo also features a black nickel-plated finish.
This diver’s watch, whose style statement is complemented by its powerful links to sustainability, is water-resistant to 20 bar (200 meters/660 feet).
In addition, Breitling has also partnered with Ocean Conservancy, a non-profit environmental group advocating practices that will sustain ocean and human lives.
On 31 October 2018, Breitling teamed up with Ocean Conservancy in a beach clean-up session at the East Coast Park in Singapore. With the objectives of: raising awareness towards the need to achieve a healthy marine environment; and encouraging others to commit actively in keeping our beaches clean.
“Our customers are adventurers who value our planet and are keen to play a part in preserving our oceans. It is thus important to set an example if we want to achieve a new way of producing and consuming, to improve the problem of marine debris.” shares Alvin Soon, President of Breitling Greater China and Southeast Asia, on the initiative.
Participants in the beach clean-up activity included Breitling staff, local and regional media, and children from the German European School Singapore. Surfers squad members Stephanie Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons were present as well, having flown in from Australia.
More than 35kg of waste material was collected from the beach, of which large amounts were micro plastics and cigarette stubs. Indeed, as a participant in the clean-up session, most of the refuse picked up comprised inappropriately and carelessly tossed cigarette stubs, styrofoam bits (material made of expanded polystyrene foam), and plastic litter from food packaging.
Is it any wonder that at the United European Gastroenterology Week held in Vienna in late October that researchers revealed that microplastics were discovered in human excrement across the globe for the very first time?
The microplastics in the human food chain were mainly polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene-terephthalate (PET), according to the Medical University of Vienna and the Environmental Agency Austria.
These compelling findings allude to how plastic waste carelessly and haphazardly left behind by humans are entering the food chain, as marine creatures consume them.
“It is quite shocking when you see how much plastic you can collect on this beautiful and clean beach. You can actually see the magnitude of the problem,” notes Kern.
The clean-up program with Ocean Conservancy was an eye opener. “The sea is for us to enjoy and it is about preserving that for the next generation. It is for them to have an opportunity to have a life in the water. It all starts with oneself and knowing that every little bit counts,” says Fitzgibbons.
Sally Fitzgibbons and Stephanie Gilmore from the Surfers Squad
Bearing in mind that human consumables are the root cause of the pollution, and inevitably likely to lead to potential health problems for humankind.
“It is more than just the ocean. Every single city and every place around the world, whatever the people do, the different products they use, it all ends up in the ocean at some point in time so it is real important to understand that and be aware of it. Our oceans are so beautiful and we need to protect it. We use it for everything food, travel fun. It is everything for us,” surmises Stephanie Gilmore.
The commitment to partnering with and supporting non-profit organisations with a strong social cause is commendable.
“We are happy at Breitling to support Ocean Conservancy. I think it is a fantastic initiative. We cannot change the world. We cannot save the world alone but we can partner and raise awareness with Sally and Stephanie. It is about how we can scale such activities and to get people to change their attitudes,” says Kern. “This exercise has given us a better understanding of the huge drama we are living in with plastics in our oceans. If we don’t stop this, in 10 to 20 years, we won’t be able to fish anymore.”
Sally Fitzgibbons and Stephanie Gilmore from the Surfers Squad, along with Breitling CEO Georges Kern
Interestingly, the word “squad” means “square” as this military term is derived from “esquade” in French, “escuadra” in Spanish and “squadra” in Italian. That is because foot infantry of the past were organised in square formations to repel enemy cavalry and/or infantry.
With the Surfers squad in particular, we see the Breitling brand resounding well with the larger community who see the need for environmentalist champions, and the urgent need for human behaviour to change with regards to plastic refuse and waste management.
After all, the Breitling Surfers squad comprising Gilmore, Fitzgibbons and Slater are definitely not square pegs (pun intended) in round holes.
Images courtesy of Breitling. Additional images by Timmy Tan.