American Marketer


Breitling honors US veterans with limited-edition commemorative watches

November 14, 2013


Swiss watchmaker Breitling is honoring World War II veterans with a limited-edition watch collection that contributes a percentage of proceeds to the Honor Flight Network.

The 56-piece wristwatch collection represents Breitling's strong connection to aviation and the charity organization’s mission of arranging flights for veterans to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington free of charge. Forging a connection with a charity organization that reflects the values and heritage of a brand helps to display a sense of community among enthusiasts while creating new fans.

“Our goal is more to build awareness for Honor Flight and what they do,” said Thierry Prissert, president of Breitling USA, Wilton, CT.

“It’s an amazing charity that flies veterans to visit the memorial in Washington, so the only goal for us is to raise money to fly veterans to see it,” he said.

“When we got in touch with Honor Flight we were thrilled to be a part of it and honor and celebrate a generation of men and women that sacrificed their lives to give us the free world we have today.”

Honor in the skies
To celebrate the partnership between Breitling and Honor Flight Network the watchmaker created a limited-edition series of 56 different watches. Each watch represents one of the 50 states and six U.S. territories that bravely fought during World War II.

Breitling's Honor Flight watch

The timepieces feature the Honor Flight Network logo on the dial. On the caseback, the engraving symbolizes trips to the capital and was designed by memorial creator and artist Raymond Kaskey. The caseback also includes a state or territory, Honor Flight’s name and its motto, “One Last Mission.”

Breitling based the style of the series on its Navitimer 01 wristwatch. All pieces in the series are numbered and fit with Breitling’s in-house mechanical chronograph movement.

Caseback of Breitling's Honor Flight watch for Wisconsin

The Breitling Honor Flight Network series became available on Veteran’s Day Nov. 11 in the watchmaker’s Miami, Orlando and New York boutiques. The series is also available by calling Breitling’s concierge service.

Breitling has donated $150,000 to support the work done by Honor Flight Network. The donation made it possible for 300 veterans to complete “one last mission” and visit the WWII Memorial in Washington.

To show further support, the brand also auctioned off the Wisconsin timepiece resulting in $13,500 that was then given to the charity. Wisconsin was selected for auction because of the state’s role in the award-winning documentary, “Honor Flight: One Last Mission,” a film that has garnered attention for the charity.

Giving back
Brands benefit from going beyond the point of sale to connect with consumers on a personal level.

For example, Swiss jeweler Chopard is working together with the Happy Hearts Fund to help rebuild schools and aid children that have been affected by natural disasters with an exclusive bracelet designed specifically for the cause.

The Happy Hearts Fund was created by model Petra Nemcova in 2005 after she was injured in Thailand during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that devastated the region (see story).

Additionally, French fashion label Christian Dior held its Dior Auction Oct. 1-10 where exclusive items and experiences were auctioned off to raise funds for cancer organization Look Good Feel Better that helps women cope with the physical and emotional toll taken by cancer.

Dior was able to align itself with admirable values with this auction that gave 100 percent of proceeds to Look Good Feel Better (see story).

Selecting a charity partner that reflects and punctuates a brand’s own heritage adds to an endeavor's authenticity.

“The name of the charity is Honor Flight and we’re a company that is very linked with the world of aviation, we’ve done a lot of things over the years to support the Army or the Navy,” Mr. Prissert said. “Breitling has a flying history and to celebrate World War II veterans was something great.

“On top of it, I’m French, we’re a European company and basically the face of the world would clearly be different if young Americans did not fight to save the free world,” he said. “It’s an emotional, personal link as a European and it’s a company link because Breitling celebrates the world of aviation every day and makes watches for pilots.

“So, it was a great combination to be associated with and honor these people is something we’re really privileged to be involved.”

Final take
Jen King, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York