In early March, Breitling announced a new subscription service that allows subscribers the opportunity to get some of their pieces on wrist before taking the plunge. There have been some third-party services similar to this in the past but, as far as I know, this is the first big watch brand to try this type of thing on their own. While it’s always good to have the opportunity to try before you buy (or to have the even rarer opportunity to try for an extended period before you buy), most of us fulfill this hands-on test drive by walking into an AD (or even a department store). My favorite thing about doing it that way? It doesn’t cost $129 a month (with a 12-month contract…and a one-time $450 subscription fee).
I get it. Breitling knows who their customer base is. As a matter of fact, the Breitling Select service is an attempt to reach a wider audience, likely outside the #WatchFam. This could be a smart move. I say this, because I don’t know of any Watch Fam friends (of mine, at least) who wouldn’t know a better way to try out/try on a Breitling.
I could see if this was Rolex. Maybe. If their infuriating false scarcity nonsense hasn’t turned enough people off, then maybe it would be worth it if they had a service where you could try on some of their impossible-to-find standouts (stainless steel anything, anyone?). But Breitling is offering pieces that are readily available and in display cases in many (if not most) Breitling AD’s. I don’t remember hearing any outcry over not being able to find a stainless steel Navitimer or Super Ocean any time recently.
My issue here is that watch people, at least the ones I know, are inventive and resourceful and could likely find a better way to source a borrowed Breitling (#onloanfromabro, amirite?). As a matter of fact, if you’re already barking up the Breitling bush I would imagine you just might have a bro with Breitling to borrow (bonus points for alliteration). There are likely also watch nerds who could source a pre-owned watch for less than it would cost to subscribe to this service for a few years. Hell, you could even just save your money. Yes. Do that. Go to the AD every week for a year and try on your dream Breitling. Save your money.
As with many other campaigns launched by luxury brands, this effort seems to be aimed more at people looking to buy a watch who perhaps recognize the Breitling name as representing something (Quality? Heritage? Status?) but not exactly sure what that something is, just that it’s worth plunking down some dough for. I’m sure they’re also targeting some watch enthusiasts, particularly those with the cash to burn on such a non-essential service. One thing seems certain, though. They don’t seem to be pitching this to discerning collectors, at least the type that I interact with on a normal basis.
Maybe I’m too judgmental, though. That could be possible. After all, people pay to rent other luxury goods: handbags, cars, rental properties, etc. I don’t know enough about those other industries to know if their models involve similar types of subscription services for their goods. Regardless, one needs only weigh the costs and benefits of such a membership.
For the rest of us, a little legwork and a little street sense would do just fine.
Check out more of Henry’s articles here
Check out the Breitling Select website