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"Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without." - Confucius

Let’s play a game. Just imagine a brand and think of any product you really like. Now spend a minute on the target audience and try to figure out the appropriate person that you’d appoint as brand ambassador. Easy? I don’t think so. Just to get a celebrity with a wide smile doesn’t mean that the goals are achieved. In fact, the individual might hit a different customer segment and leave the target audience unconcerned – which might be an issue when you want to position your product correctly. In order to make a deep impact customers must identify with the ambassador, thus selecting the faces of a brand requires careful consideration. In my opinion it helps if there are extraordinary performances, a great history of life behind the individual as well as an original character.

Last Thursday I met two spot on choices at Les Ambassadeurs who have been working with Breitling for quite a while. The Zurich boutique together with Breitling invited their customers for a get-together with fellow “friends of the brand”, Olympian gold medalists Dominique Gisin (downhill skiing) and Simon Ammann (four-time winner in ski jumping). Although it was not really the key point of consideration when they were appointed, both have connections to flying – Simon has spent a considerable amount of time gliding through the air at the speed of over 100 km/h and now he’s getting his license for airplanes, too. Dominique is already a licensed pilot and she’s on her way to passing the commercial license. Both of them are a source of national pride for Switzerland with great achievements behind them – and similarly to a great chunk of Breitling’s customers, they’re young. Their talent was discovered at a very young age they were determined to live with it and not get distracted. However, their charming appeal and the prodigious results are not the only reasons why I consider them fabulous picks for ambassadors of a brand like Breitling. Dominique’s and Simon’s sports careers were also marked by terrible injuries from which they could stand up and resume their journey. I also love the fact that although their career was rushing like a steam engine they have demonstrated long term thinking and prepared for what comes after that.

Dominique Gisin and Simon Ammann, photo credit: David Biedert

Dominique told me that flying came as a second “chance”, growing to another passion, which might be her next profession as she’s preparing for her commercial pilot exams. I find her attitude, the down-to-earth character and the ability to set completely new goals and sail to significantly different directions very inspiring. And looking at the admiring audience surrounding her, I wasn’t alone.

Group wristshot with Dominique


Although, Breitling’s communication is crisp and fresh, the company’s history goes back to 1884. The event opened an exhibition at Les Ambassadeurs too, which lined up remarkable pieces from the past 130 years.


Historic pieces on display

The Chronomat line from Breitling was presented during the war years, in 1941-42, strongly supported by advertisements. The watch has two circular slide rules around the dial; one is fixed, the other movable. Its accurate and legible scale is a huge help for performing calculations such as the tachometer, the pulsometer or even mathematical problems. The company offered it in gold or steel, with different dials and functions, also with moon phases.

Chronomat with moon phase, 1942
Chronomat with moon phase, 1942


As Léon Breitling predicted, more and more people were in need – in various areas of the life – for their own very accurate watches. In 1946 Breitling published an imposing new catalogue, including the Datora. The sophisticated timepiece has a complete calendar, circular line with blue numbers, day and month window at 12 o’clock and a split-second hand.

Datora, 1946
Datora, 1946

A timer is a specialized type of watch for measuring time intervals. A stopwatch counts upwards from zero for measuring the elapsed time (while a countdown timer counts down from a specified time interval). These were often used at sports events or at car races. The Tel-Rad was a split-second timer, with multiple scales and it allowed the use of more than 15 types of timers, handy for different sports and special events.

Other timers on display were a yachting timer from the 1970s and a pocket chronograph with split-second hand and a “Breitling-yellow” protective case.


Although automatic movements appeared in the mid-1770s and in 1924 in wrist watches, it was only in 1969, when the first self-winding chronograph was issued. Interestingly, it was developed in a secret in collaboration between Heuer, Breitling, Hamilton and Dubois Dépraz. Gérald Dubois (the grandson of the founder) had been developing such a movement, but he approached Willy Breitling as a partner. Together with the two above mentioned companies, they patented a new mechanism in the “Caliber 11”, but they were even more ambitious; the intention was to include this calibre in a collection. The Chrono-Matic stepped onto the market in 1969, with six models immediately.

An interesting development was the Electrosplit from 1969: it is a digital timer run by a quartz generator. The exhibition also includes the Minisplit, “the smallest and lightest digital-display electronic timer” of its time.


Chronomat Navitimer 1969
Chronomat Navitimer, 1969


Photo credits: Les Ambassadeurs, Loupiosity.com.
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