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Breitling's Belated Debut

Is it just us, or is there something ironic about the fact that the city's worst timing seems to belong to a watch store?

Breitling's sleek new flagship store wasn't finished in time for the Holiday season, so it was slated to open just after Christmas, right on time for... a paralyzing blizzard!

Missing one Holiday shopping season probably won't break the Breitling store. Clearly it's there for the long haul as the latest tenant of a prime midtown spot that in recent years has gone from Chanel's hands to Swatch's to Nokia's. Breitling is now doing its part to restore the space between Burberry and YSL to a luxury setting more befitting its neighbors on the rarefied block, and it joins the recent proliferation of boutiques in midtown devoted to sporty yet high end watch brands like Panerai, Omega and even Toy Watch.

Inside, it's all steel, wood and leather, and though Breitling makes a few lady sized watches, clearly the store is designed with its male customers in mind. there are plenty of allusions to the brand's aviation theme. Sexy pop-art canvases break up the wood paneled walls while case after case holds a dizzying array of watches. Selected models are highlighted in holographic vitrines, but if you think the displays are high tech, then you should get a load of the watches. The brand is doing nothing to change its reputation as a purveyor of flashy status, so if you think their product is a little gaudy, that's OK with them. In fact, their watches have only gotten bigger and more elaborate with some items in their collaboration line with British automaker Bentley looking something like a small dinner tray full of dials. By comparison, a relatively straightforward diving watch looks positively spartan.

Looking at a case full of bulky bezels upon dials can leave a person crosseyed. Perhaps that's why above the mezzanine (more watches), near a small case full of airplane festooned accessories, there's a stylish bar, so you can clear your mind as you decide which shiny new timepiece to take home. Let's just hope your wrist is as big as your wallet.

Breitling 5 East 57th Street between Fifth & Madison Avenues, Midtown


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