The time is 9.30am on a stormy morning in Biarritz and Georges Kern is looking out of a rain-speckled car window. Hiding behind the peak of an orange Deus cap that matches the Outerknown watch strap of his new Swiss made Breitling Superocean replica watches, he seems a little nervous.
The last time I was with Kern, he had just announced himself to a busy departure lounge in Zurich airport by descending an escalator alone – dressed as a pilot. Though the outfit was for effect, he proceeded to board a plane to Geneva with several hundred journalists and Breitling collectors. The occasion? To celebrate the 70th anniversary of aviation-inspired high quality fake Breitling Navitimer watches. How? By unveiling the new collection in midair, of course.
Today, we are on our way to a group surfing trip, to mark best replica Breitling’s new surf-orientated Superocean collection watches. Kern’s choice of attire this time is a wetsuit. “People want experiences,” Kern tells us shortly after a fun morning larking around on surfboards in the Atlantic Ocean. What people want, Kern has a knack of finding.
Kern has been steering perfect Breitling copy watches’ ship since 2017, after a successful 15-year stint in the top job at IWC Schaffhausen. Breitling has since doubled its turnover and now has 160-odd boutiques worldwide – with 40 more in the offing. He fast-tracked the launch of Breitling’s e-commerce in 2018, which now makes up 10 percent of the brand’s total sales. Part of that is down to Kern launching a number of ‘Squads’ made up of celebrity ambassadors like Adam Driver and Kelly Slater who are happy to endorse 1:1 Breitling replica watches.
Kern’s idol is “probably Warren Buffett”, he says. He loves the way Jurgen Klopp manages Liverpool FC and admires Elon Musk (“He’s on the edge of being a genius or totally crazy”). Over a warm cup of tea, we caught up with him to discuss five years at the helm, and what he’s learnt along the way.
Given where we are today, I take it you’re not the desk-bound type?
Thank God I’m the CEO, so I don’t have to work in an office. But I’m always working because everything I see – a car, a colour, I always relate to it and send pictures to my design team. I work 24 hours but it’s not a tiring way of working. There still needs to be a balance though because life is so short and the world is so screwed that you should enjoy life. So I take my free time, I like cycling holidays and weekends.
What do you need to be successful in your position?
As CEO you need to bring courage where others would be too prudent. You take risks, calculated risks. Constant creativity and inspiration from outside, constant encouragement to say, ‘Let’s go, let’s do it.’ But any idea I have to ask myself, ‘Do they fit the brand?’ A successful brand – like Hermès, Chanel, Louis Vuitton – is a compact one where all the elements of the puzzle work and everything fits.
When you started out at Breitling, did you have a plan? And have you stuck to it?
I would say 60 percent, yes. We knew what we wanted to do with the squad idea, and more or less the fact that we wanted to have three segments [Land, Air, Sea]. The other 40 percent has allowed us to be reactive. I’m an optimist by character though and I knew after six months that we would be successful because I realised how strong our back catalogue was. That is what our whole strategy has come from. Even in the best days of my previous roles, I never had that speed of success so it was a surprise, but it’s a snowball effect. There’s a dynamism about AAA UK super clone Breitling watches, which overtakes everything.
Do you know about the inner workings and mechanisms of a watch?
I understand more or less how the technique works, but I’ve never been a watchmaker. What you need is a sense that when a technician comes to your office, he may have a great idea but is it sellable? 25 years ago, I was more brand oriented than movement or technology oriented. Today, people are buying a brand and a design, then a technology, but when I started out, it was the other way round. But for my whole career because I didn’t understand the technical side as well, I focused more on the brand and thank God the priorities of the consumers have brought the change today, because people are now buying a lifestyle. You need to have the quality. You need to be a manufacturer, but it’s a condition to be a lifestyle brand.
Nowadays, does a narrative trump the technical aspects of a watch?
You need both. You have to have the movements but I wouldn’t launch a beautiful product without a narrative. If I have a narrative, I will do everything to find the right product. Someone told me at the launch of the top Breitling Navitimer replica watches that the brand reminds him of happy days. I thought this was a phenomenal compliment because we want to be happy. We want to have fun. With a beautiful product, what does it bring to you? It’s not to read time – it is to have a feeling, to feel good.
What is your greatest success to date?
Our success is that we can sell everything and people are buying everything. I don’t know one single person who doesn’t like at least one line in our collection. The beauty is we have the electronic professional tools up to the super classic Premier collection, as well as an icon like the luxury Breitling Navitimer fake watches and something more colourful with the Superocean. The difficult part is to bring together in a coherent way, design, storytelling and history. A brand is a planet and you have satellites flying around the planet so you have to choose the right satellites to make the brand grow.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in growing Breitling?
For us, our only problem is not everyone knows where we are today. I would say that five or 10 percent know how beautiful the products are, how great the brand is, so this takes time. Changing a strategy is one thing, bringing it to your target group is a totally different ballgame. For this, you need a sprint and a marathon.
Any advice you were given that’s worth passing on?
I had really good mentors in my life and everybody told me to go slow. I never listened to them. When I was younger, like Formula 1 drivers, I was too quick and sometimes drove into a wall. Today, I drive quickly but I stay on the track – that’s experience. But I never wanted to drive slowly.