Robb Interview: Lionel a Marca, Breguet CEO

We sat down with CEO Lionel a Marca to discuss the new Type XX, and explore a manufacture that happily stands apart after nearly 250 years.

By Richard Clune 29/06/2023

Robb Report: History and heritage are key elements when speaking about Breguet’s longstanding excellence. Is it difficult to align such iconic brand components with a forward-looking, future-oriented strategy?

Lionel a Marca: This is a relevant and complex question. I think our great assets are our history and our expertise. The question we ask ourselves every time we start a new project is, ‘What would Abraham-Louis Breguet do today?’ Our mission is to perpetuate the history of this beautiful house while integrating the ‘innovation’ factor that is necessary to ensuring our founder’s heritage endures. Take for example our new perpetual calendar, Reference 7327: we wanted to create a dial design similar to those created by our founder and hence featuring the brand’s aesthetic codes, such as Breguet hands, an offset dial and extremely fine guilloché work. This watch is a perfect example of how we could easily have opted to take short cuts: we might have chosen a less-refined guilloché motif, which would save a lot of work time for the artisans and hence increase productivity. On the contrary, we went for a complex and extremely fine guilloché reflecting Breguet’s vision of excellence. We prefer to produce fewer timepieces, but be 100 percent proud of each one.

(r) Lionel a Marca, CEO of Breguet

Another term often used to talk about Breguet is savoir-faire. How do you personally define this term in relation to the brand?

Breguet’s expertise, in addition to that of our watchmakers, is linked to our artistic crafts. When Nicolas G. Hayek acquired the brand in 1999, he wanted to perpetuate what had been the essence of the brand since its creation. The guilloché, engraving and bevelling professions were no longer in fashion. He wished to invest in order to continue cultivating these skills that were verging on extinction. Today we continue writing this history and providing in-house training, for artisans who passionately handcraft each component. Nicolas G. Hayek was a visionary, because for us the term expertise not only refers to the professions relating to the finishing and assembly of our timepieces, but also the capacity for invention characterising our founder. For this reason, Nicolas G. Hayek also invested in the purchase of high-tech tools and in the R&D department. We strive daily to keep this expertise alive.

What are some of your key plans for the brand in 2023 and 2024?

As far as upcoming projects are concerned, I prefer to let you discover them as they are released—otherwise the surprise element would be missing… When it comes to what I’m especially excited about, I have to mention my core training, as I am basically a watchmaker. I have always enjoyed handling movements, understanding mechanisms, and drawing inspiration from the timepieces made by the brand over our almost 250-year history. I would thus say that what drives me most is product development: thinking about what’s next, working as a team to find ideas and solutions. I am lucky enough to know this job and therefore to understand the needs of a brand such as Breguet.

Breguet Type XX and Type 20

It’s here we need to discuss the return of the iconic Type XX. Why release it now, this piece that really has a robust and daily-wear spirit about it?

Whether we are talking about a watch or a collection, we release products once we are 100 percent satisfied with them. The movement of the new Type XX was entirely developed in our manufacture. It involved more than four years of work and the filing of several patents. We launched these timepieces simply because we were ready to do so. Moreover, a reinterpretation of this iconic collection had been eagerly awaited for several years and we are happy with the work done by the teams as well as with the highly positive feedback from our customers. Robustness is certainly what guided us in the development of this new calibre—and as for the “all-purpose” spirit of this model, I’ll let you judge for yourself.

For anyone who is not yet aware of its background, what does the Type XX represent for Breguet? And can you tell us more about the new and exciting Calibre 728?

The Type XX has been an emblematic brand collection for 70 years. This model was created according to specifications established by the French Air Force. Although Breguet did not have exclusive rights to it at the time, it quickly became one of the brand’s most iconic models. The new self-winding Calibre 728 powers the civilian version, while the military model is equipped with Calibre 7281. We wanted a robust and innovative movement. It does indeed feature all the characteristics of a modern chronograph: column wheel, vertical clutch, 5 Hz frequency and an innovative zero-resetting system. We naturally had to integrate the flyback function into both models, enabling zero-resetting and instant restarting of a new timing operation without losing track of the overall-time indication. Pressing the 2 o’clock pusher activates the timing, while the one at 4 o’clock zero-resets the chronograph and upon release ensures an immediate restart from zero for a new time measurement. This function is a precious asset for pilots, as three manoeuvres were previously required for the same purpose. Evaluating various durations and directions is thus easily done using the flyback function. Finally, its vertical clutch mechanism was chosen for its accurate activation, as the chronograph hand starts immediately without any initial jumps. As the devil is also in the details, we have also devoted particular care to the aesthetic appeal of the movement, and these two models feature sunburst and snailed patterns as well as circular graining and bevelling. Fans will also appreciate the blackened gold oscillating weight evoking the shape of an aircraft seen from the front and engraved with the Breguet logo.

Whether one likes them or not, watch fairs are a means of increasing brand awareness and sales. Can you explain why Breguet avoids large exhibitions such as Watches and Wonders? Does the fact that this fair’s program now enables the public to learn more about watch brands change your view of the show—and would you consider attending in future years?

We respect the existence of these events as well as those who wish to participate. However, after years of participating in Baselworld we have changed our strategy. We now prefer to enjoy a closer relationship with our markets by spending time in them. As mentioned earlier, our product development is a lengthy process and we prefer to launch our new products throughout the year, doing so when the time is right for us rather than based on a given trade fair’s calendar constraints in which we have no say. This is done through worldwide launches, collaborations (we are partners of the Frieze contemporary art fair) and roadshows. This approach involving regular travel to specific countries is more personalised and enables us to take time with our partners and to discuss the challenges each faces in terms of various market imperatives. We have noticed that this modus operandi is very popular, and we prefer to continue in this direction that more accurately reflects our current vision.

How does immediate product availability that can be used as a sales tool affect or hinder the brand?

We live in an age where people admittedly tend to want everything all at once. Our brand is not a trendy brand that releases a massive number of new models per year: such an attitude is not part of the company values, nor do our customers expect it. The scale of our manufacturing facilities, as well as the fact that all our components are hand-finished, would not permit us to increase our production quantities overnight. We do however attach great importance to being capable of satisfying our customers’ requests within a reasonable timeframe and this seems to be appreciated.

August marks two years for you as CEO of Breguet. What have been some of the most rewarding achievements, as well as the challenging lessons, during this time?

Two years have passed, in a fraction of a second. When I arrived, I realised that our production flow was not optimal and so one of my first tasks was to increase the smooth operation of our workshop processes. I think that we are now both more productive and more consistent. In terms of projects, I immersed myself in the archives and the history of the brand, which inspired me enormously. I am quite proud of the Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat 5365 which has “my touch”. It is on this timepiece that I introduced the very fine guilloché work (hand-engraving on a rose engine) done back in the day by Abraham-Louis Breguet. Otherwise, of course, I would say that for us the launch of the Type XX represents the culmination of a project that is both ambitious and essential to the brand. It is an honour for me to be serving as CEO of Breguet at the time of the relaunch of this iconic collection.

Where do you see the future of Breguet, both in the Australian market and at a global level?

Australia is a geographically large market and we want to engage more closely with our customers by developing our point-of-sale network across the country. After the Type XX, we are committed to another ambitious undertaking: the brand’s upcoming 250th anniversary. We have been working on it since I took office and our ambition is to pay tribute to our brand founder while focusing on future innovation.


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First Drive: The Porsche 911 S/T Is a Feral Beast That Handles the Road Like an Olympic Bobsledder

The commemorative model borrows underpinnings from the GT3 RS and includes a 518 hp engine.

By Basem Wasef 23/10/2023

The soul of any sports car comes down to the alchemy of its tuning—how the engine, suspension, and chassis blend into a chorus of sensations. The secret sauce of the new Porsche 911 S/T, developed as a tribute to the 60th anniversary of the brand’s flagship model, is more potent than most; in fact, it makes a serious case for being the most driver-focused 911 of all time.

Sharing the S/T designation with the homologation special from the 1960s, the (mostly) innocuously styled commemorative model borrows underpinnings from the more visually extroverted GT3 RS. Yet what the S/T, starting at $290,000, lacks in fender cutouts and massive spoilers it makes up for in directness: a flat-six power plant that revs to 9,000 rpm, a motorsport-derived double-wishbone suspension, and a manual gearbox. It’s a delightfully feral combination.

Rossen Gargolov

Whereas the automatic-transmission GT3 RS is ruthlessly configured for maximum downforce and minimum lap times, the S/T is dialed in for the road—particularly the Southern Italian ones on which we’re testing the car, which happen to be the very same used by product manager Uwe Braun, Andreas Preuninger, head of Porsche’s GT line, and racing legend Walter Röhrl to finalize its calibration. The car reacts to throttle pressure with eerie deftness, spinning its 518 hp engine with thrilling immediacy, thanks to shorter gear ratios.

The steering response is similarly transparent, as direct as an unfiltered Marlboro, and the body follows with the agility of an Olympic bobsledder. Some of that purity of feeling is the result of addition through subtraction: Power-sapping elements including a hydraulic clutch and rear-axle steering were ditched, which also enabled the battery to be downsized for even more weight savings. The final result, with its carbon-fiber body panels, thinner glass, magnesium wheels, and reduced sound deadening, is the lightest 992-series variant on record, with roughly the same mass as the esteemed 911 R from 2016.

Driver engagement is further bolstered by the astounding crispness of the short-throw gearbox. The S/T fits hand in glove with narrow twisties and epic sweepers, or really any stretch that rewards mechanical grip and the ability to juke through hairpin corners. The cabin experience is slightly less raucous than the 911 R, but more raw than the wingless 911 GT3 Touring, with an intrusive clatter at idle due to the single-mass flywheel and featherlight clutch. Porsche cognoscenti will no doubt view the disturbance in the same way that hardcore Ducatisti revere the tambourine-like rattle of a traditional dry clutch: as an analog badge of honor.

The main bragging right, though, may just be owning one. In a nod to the year the 911 debuted, only 1,963 examples of the S/T will be built. Considering the seven-year-old 911 R started life at$295,000 and has since fetched upwards of $790,000, this new lightweight could bring proportionately heavy returns—if you can be pried from behind the wheel long enough to sell it, that is.

Images by Rossen Gargolov

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Gentlemanly Restraint 

Art and science collide in the the newly released BR03A watch collection by Bell & Ross.

By Belinda Aucott 02/11/2023

In keeping with the brand’s design salute to aviation and military equipment, the pared-back face of the Bell & Ross BR03 Automatic takes its cue from the instrumentation in cockpits. It’s unabashedly minimal and confidently masculine style is set to make it a future classic.

Faithful to the codes that underpin the brand’s identity, the new utilitarian offerings sit within a smaller 41-mm case (a slight departure from the original at 42 mm Diver, Chrono or GMT.) and has a reduced lug width and slimmer hands. The changes extend to the watch movement, which has been updated with a BR-CAL.302 calibre. The watch is waterproof to 300 metres and offers a power reserve of 54 hours.

While the new collection offers an elegant sufficiency of colourways, from a stealthy black to more decorative bronze face with a tan strap, each is a faithful rendition of the stylish “rounded square, four-screw” motif that is Bell & Ross’s calling card.



For extra slickness, the all-black Phantom and Nightlum models have a stealthy, secret-agent appeal, offering up a new take on masculine restraint.

Yet even the more decorative styles, like the black face with contrasting army-green band, feel eminently versatile and easy to wear. The 60’s simplicity and legibility of the face is what makes it so distinctive and functional.

For example, the BR 03-92 Nightlum, with its black matte case and dial, and bright green indices and hands, offers a great contrast during the day and emits useful luminosity at night.

A watch that begs to be read, the the BR03-A stands up to scrutiny, and looks just as good next to a crisp, white cuff as it does at the end of a matte, black wetsuit.

That’s a claim not many watch collections can make. 

Explore the collection.

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Timeless Glamour & Music Aboard The Venice Simplon-Orient Express

Lose yourself in a luxury journey, aboard an Art Deco train from Paris

By Belinda Aucott 03/11/2023

Watching the unseen corners of Europe unfold gently outside your train, window can be thirsty work, right? That’s why Belmond Hotels is once again staging a culinary train journey from Paris to Venice, aboard the glittering Art Deco carriages of the Venice Simplon-Orient Express.

To celebrate diversity and inclusion in the LBTQ+ community, another unforgettable train ride is slated for 2 November.

On the journey, ample servings of decadent cuisine will be served and live entertainment will play looooong into the night. Trans-DJ Honey Dijon and Dresden’s Purple Disco Machine are both part of the disco-house line-up.

Passengers are encouraged to dress in black-tie or cocktail attire, before they head to the bar and dining carriages to enjoy their night, where they are promised ‘unapologetic extravagance’,.

Negronis, martinis, spritzes and sours will all be on offer as the sunlight fades.

So-hot-right-now French chef Jean Imbert is also in the kitchen rattling the pans for guests.

Imber puts a garden-green-goodness twist on Gallic traditions. He regularly cooks for the who’s-who. Imbert recently co-created a food concept for Dior in Paris, worked with Pharrell Williams to present a dinner in Miami, and he’s even been invited to Cheval Blanc St-Barth to cater luxe LVMH-owned property.

The young chef is vowing to create no less than ‘culinary perfection’ in motion with his own passion for fresh seasonal produce. There’ll be plenty of Beluga caviar, seared scallops, and lobster vol-au-vents.

“I want to create beautiful moments which complement the train, which is the true star,” says Imbert of his hands-on approach to delectable pastries and twists on elegant Euro classics.

“Its unique legacy is something we take pride in respecting, while evolving a new sense of style and purpose that will captivate a new generation.”

Check the timetable for the itinerary of lush inclusions here.

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From Electric Surfboards to Biodegradable Golf Balls: 8 Eco-Conscious Yacht Toys for Green and Clean Fun

Just add water and forget the eco-guilt.

By Gemma Harris 18/10/2023

Without toys, yachts would be kind of sedentary. There’s nothing wrong with an alfresco meal, sunsets on the flybridge and daily massages. But toys add zest to life on board, while creating a deeper connection with the water. These days, there are a growing number of options for eco-friendly gadgets and equipment that deliver a greener way to play. These eight toys range from do-it-yourself-propulsion (waterborne fitness bikes) to electric foiling boards, from kayaks made of 100 percent recycled plastics to non-toxic, biodegradable golf balls with fish food inside. Your on-water adrenaline rushes don’t always have to be about noise and gas fumes. They can be fun, silent, and eco-conscious.

A game of golf isn’t just for land. Guests can play their best handicap from the deck with Albus Golf’s eco-friendly golf balls. The ecological and biodegradable golf balls are 100 percent safe for marine flora and fauna, and manufactured with non-contaminating materials. The balls will biodegrade within 48 hours after hitting the ocean and release the fish food contained in their core. For a complete golfing experience, add a floating FunAir green. From $3100 (FunAir Yacht Golf) and $315 a box (golf balls).

Fliteboard Series 2.0

The future of surf is electric, and Fliteboard offers an emissions-free and environmentally friendly electric hydrofoil. Flying over the water has never been as efficient and low impact, using new technologies with less than 750 watts of electric power. This second series boasts various performance factors for all riding styles. It also features an increased trigger range from 20 to 40 degrees for more precision and control. Fliteboard designed this series for every possible foiling ability, from newbies to wave-carvers. From $22,000.

Manta 5 Hydrofoiler XE-1

Hailing from New Zealand and using America’s Cup technology, Manta 5 offers the first hydrofoil bike. The Hydrofoiler XE-1 replicates the cycling experience on the water. Powered by fitness-level pedaling and assisted by the onboard battery, top speeds can reach up to 19 km per hour. The two hydrofoils are carbon fibre, and the frame is aircraft-grade aluminium. The onboard Garmin computer will relay all the stats. The effortless gliding sensation will accompany you through a workout, exploration or just circling the boat. From $950.

Mo-Jet’s Jet Board

Imagine five toys in one: The Mo Jet delivers just that. From jet surfing, bodyboarding, and e-foiling to scooter diving. This versatile, German-built toy is perfect for those who cannot decide. The Mo-jet uses a cool modular system allowing you to switch between activities. Whether you want to stand, be dragged around or dive, you can have it all. It even has a life-saving module and a 2.8m rescue electric surfboard. Made from environmentally friendly and recyclable polyethene, it also ticks the eco-conscious boxes. Complete with an 11kW electric water jet, it charges in 75 mins, offering up to 30 mins of fun. Adrenaline junkies will also not be disappointed, since speed surges from 0 to 27 knots in 3 seconds. From $18,000.

Silent Yachts Tender ST400

Driven by innovation and solar energy, Silent Yachts recently launched its first electric tender, the ST400. The 13-footer has clean-cut lines and is built with either an electric jet drive or a conventional electric outboard engine. The ST400 reaches speeds above 20 knots. From $110,000.

Osiris Outdoor ‘Reprisal’ Kayak

Kayaks are ideal for preserving and protecting nature, but they’re usually manufactured with materials that will last decades longer than we will and therefore not too eco-friendly. Founded by US outdoor enthusiasts, Osiris Outdoor has created a new type of personal boat. “The Reprisal” kayak is manufactured in the US entirely from recycled plastics (around 27 kgs) that are purchased from recycling facilities. The sustainable manufacturing process isn’t its only selling point; the lightweight Reprisals have spacious storage compartments, rod holders and a watertight hatch for gadgets. Complete with a matte-black finish for a stylish look. From $1100.

The Fanatic Ray Eco SUP Paddleboard

Declared as the most sustainable SUP, the Ray Eco is the brainchild of the Zero Emissions Project and BoardLab, supported by Fanatic. Glass and carbon fibre have been replaced with sustainable Kiri tree wood. And you can forget toxic varnishes and resins; organic linseed oil has been used to seal the board and maintain its durability. This fast, light, and stable board is truly one of a kind, not available off the rack. This craftsman’s love for detail and preservation is another first-class quality of the board. From $10,000

Northern Light Composite X Clean Sailors EcoOptimist

One of the most popular, single-handed dinghies in sailing’s history, the tiny Optimist has undergone a sustainable revival. Northern Light Composites and not-for-profit Clean Sailors have teamed up to launch the first sustainable and recyclable Optimist. Using natural fibres and eco-sustainable resins, The EcoOptimist supports a new circular economy in yachting. OneSail also produces the sail with a low-carbon-footprint manufacturing process. From $6000.

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The 50 Best Cocktail Bars in the World, According to a New Ranking

The World’s 50 Best organisation gave the Spanish bar Sips top honours during an awards ceremony in Singapore.

By Tori Latham 18/10/2023

If you’re looking for the best bar in the world, you better head to Barcelona.
Sips, from the industry luminaries Simone Caporale and Marc Álvarez, was named the No. 1 bar on the planet in the latest World’s 50 Best Bars ranking. The organisation held its annual awards ceremony on Tuesday in Singapore, the first time it hosted the gathering in Asia. Sips, which only opened two years ago, moved up to the top spot from No. 3 last year.
“Sips was destined for greatness even before it rocketed into the list at No. 37 just a few short months after opening in 2021,” William Drew, the director of content for 50 Best, said in a statement.
“The bar seamlessly translates contemporary innovation and technical precision into a playful cocktail programme, accompanied by the warmest hospitality, making it a worthy winner of The World’s Best Bar 2023 title.”
Coming in second was North America’s best bar: New York City’s Double Chicken Please. The top five was rounded out by Mexico City’s Handshake Speakeasy, Barcelona’s Paradiso (last year’s No. 1), and London’s Connaught Bar. The highest new entry was Seoul’s Zest at No. 18, while the highest climber was Oslo’s Himkok, which moved up to No. 10 from No. 43 last year.
Barcelona may be home to two of the top five bars, but London has cemented its status as the cocktail capital of the world: The English city had five bars make the list, more than any other town represented. Along with Connaught Bar in the top five, Tayēr + Elementary came in at No. 8, and Satan’s Whiskers (No. 28), A Bar With Shapes for a Name (No. 35), and Scarfes Bar (No. 41) all made the grade too.
The United States similarly had a good showing this year. New York City, in particular, is home to a number of the best bars: Overstory (No. 17) and Katana Kitten (No. 27) joined Double Chicken Please on the list.
Elsewhere, Miami’s Café La Trova hit No. 24 and New Orleans’s Jewel of the South snuck in at No. 49, bringing the Big Easy back to the ranking for the first time since 2014.
To celebrate their accomplishments, all of this year’s winners deserve a drink—made by somebody else at least just this once.
Check out the full list of the 50 best bars in the world below.
1. Sips, Barcelona
2. Double Chicken Please, New York
3. Handshake Speakeasy, Mexico City
4. Paradiso, Barcelona
5. Connaught Bar, London
6. Little Red Door, Paris
7. Licorería Limantour, Mexico City
8. Tayēr + Elementary, London
9. Alquímico, Cartagena
10. Himkok, Oslo
11. Tres Monos, Buenos Aires
12. Line, Athens
13. BKK Social Club, Bangkok
14. Jigger & Pony, Singapore
15. Maybe Sammy, Sydney
16. Salmon Guru, Madrid
17. Overstory, New York
18. Zest, Seoul
19. Mahaniyom Cocktail Bar, Bangkok
20. Coa, Hong Kong
21. Drink Kong, Rome
22. Hanky Panky, Mexico City
23. Caretaker’s Cottage, Melbourne
24. Café La Trova, Miami
25. Baba au Rum, Athens
26. CoChinChina, Buenos Aires
27. Katana Kitten, New York
28. Satan’s Whiskers, London
29. Wax On, Berlin
30. Florería Atlántico, Buenos Aires
31. Röda Huset, Stockholm
32. Sago House, Singapore
33. Freni e Frizioni, Rome
34. Argo, Hong Kong
35. A Bar With Shapes for a Name, London
36. The SG Club, Tokyo
37. Bar Benfiddich, Tokyo
38. The Cambridge Public House, Paris
39. Panda & Sons, Edinburgh
40. Mimi Kakushi, Dubai
41. Scarfes Bar, London
42. 1930, Milan
43. Carnaval, Lima
44. L’Antiquario, Naples
45. Baltra Bar, Mexico City
46. Locale Firenze, Florence
47. The Clumsies, Athens
48. Atlas, Singapore
49. Jewel of the South, New Orleans
50. Galaxy Bar, Dubai

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