A Conversation with Thierry Prissert, CEO of Breitling

Founded in 1884, Breitling is a watch company with a storied history in the aviation field. However, under leadership of Thierry Prissert, Breitling is attempting to diversify its customer base while staying true to its legacy and loyal clientele. Mr. Prissert describes the current Breitling customer as a 30-50 year old urban male and/or pilots. He also described the new model for Breitling: precision, style, and purpose.

Breitling succeeds in the 3,000-10,000 USD price range, coming second in market share. Mr. Prissert outlines that the watch is much more than a timepiece, but a style statement. Breitling’s competitors succeed in the “Me-Too” watch category — in that a good timepiece has been an indicative style point of success. Mr. Prissert believes that with an aspiring young potential consumer base and an existing market for the watch, there is still room for growth in the luxury market for Breitling, and he plans to seize this opportunity through increasingly targeted marketing and a diversification in the branding of different lines of watches. In this regard, Mr. Prissert does not believe that the Apple watch or the e-commerce market threatens Breitling’s profits. Instead, he believes that the Apple watch is an important stepping stone for youth to utilize “real estate” on their wrists. Furthermore, he says at the Apple watch’s current price point is competitive under the $3,000 USD range, but not competitive in the $5,000 and above USD range.

In order to enter a broader market, Mr. Prissert is excited for the company’s increasing presence in Asia. Yesterday, for example, Breitling did a release in Beijing. Nevertheless, despite his effort to expand outside of Breitling’s primary market of North America and Europe, Mr. Prissert recognizes the importance of staying loyal to its clientele and not straying far from its history; instead, he believe that Breitling should open different lines of watches to service greater audiences outside of pilots. In this regard, he hopes to keep his collaboration with Bentley as well as have further collaborations with industry leaders outside of the field of automation.

In a final note about keys for personal success, Mr. Prissert advised to find what area you are good at and explained that it is not necessary to have a specific career path. Rather, it is far more important to “show passion and hard work and see where it takes you.”