“Well George, you made another terrible watch. I hope you’re proud of yourself,” joked Charlize Theron, Breitling’s longtime brand ambassador when speaking to watch company’s CEO Georges Kern during its latest digital summit. “No, it’s a stunner. I never expect anything less from you guys. I think the thing that I really love about this watch is the duality of it. It’s classic. It’s modern. It’s just a really great watch. You guys should keep doing this, you’re really good at it.” The watch is Breitling’s first Chronomat model for women, which debuted on the wrists of Theron and new fellow ambassadors (or Squad members as the watchmaker calls them), Chinese actress Yao Chen and American ballet dancer Misty Copeland.
The new watches feature the same recognisable Rouleaux bracelet and butterfly clasp as the men’s watches, introduced back in April. Both Chronomat collections are based on the brand’s 1984 model, which Kern has described as a classic sports watch. Theron, however, sees the new women’s models differently. During a private roundtable with a select few international journalists today, the actress said she didn’t wear a watch for a long time because they felt too compartmentalised for women’s lives (i.e. one diamond bedazzled version for the red carpet, one for playing tennis or a dainty ultra-feminine evening piece). “With men that was never the case,” says Theron. “I had boyfriends that had watches they could wear for any occasion. I think for women that gap has been filled now.”
The watches definitely straddle the lines between sporty, dressy and every day and come in two different sizes, a 36 mm x 10.01 mm Automatic model and a 32 mm x 8.54 mm quartz version. They come in 6 different iterations for each size that run the style gamut: there are options with or without diamonds on the bezel and bracelets and cases in steel, 18-karat rose gold or two-tone. Dial colors range from white (which all three Squad members were wearing) and midnight blue to copper and pale green—the clear standout if you ask us (see below). The line ranges in price from £2,990 for a steel bracelet 32 mm quartz model to £20,450 for the full 18-karat rose gold 36 mm piece and each comes with 100 meters of water resistance for water-bound sporting adventures.
Copeland, who is the first African American principal dancer in the history of the American Ballet Theater, says that despite spending most of her life in a tutu, she doesn’t consider herself feminine and appreciates the unisex appeal of the new Chronomat. “I feel like there’s a real opportunity with the Chronomat 36 watch in particular that feels more diverse,” says Copeland. “I feel like I can wear it with anything and it works. It feels almost gender-neutral. I like that it has a bigger, more masculine feel, yet it’s delicate and classic.”
(Chen, who was unable to join the roundtable from Beijing, would no doubt echo her fellow Squad members’ sentiments.)
Whether you prefer a more elegant look or something that would wear as easily on a man’s wrist as a woman’s, the Chronomat timepieces offer something for everyone. “It’s tricky for women, because we want texture,” says Theron. “We want things that have a juxtaposition. There’s the texture of the band and the smoothness of the case. There’s the strength of the metal and then the femininity of the diamonds. We’re not easy! But when you get it right, we’re really, really happy.”
Only a handful of watch companies have mastered appealing to the spectrum of women’s tastes and needs, but Breitling, despite predominately being positioned as an adventurous, male-centric brand, is the latest to crack the code.