Jeanrichard Launches New Collection with Captain Sully Sullenberger

Sully with JeanRichard watchNew York’s Standard Hotel was the site of an elegant soirée last week, as Jeanrichard announced a partnership with hero pilot Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger for the launch of its new 1861 and Terrascope watches, part of the brand’s new, streamlined collection. The event included cocktails at the Hotel’s Le Bain lounge and a full-course dinner at its Highline Room restaurant, an elegant venue chosen partly for its symbolism: the restaurant offers a spectacular, panoramic view of the New York skyline and the Hudson River — the same river in which Sullenberger made the now-famous emergency landing that saved the lives of 155 passengers on U.S. Airways Flight 1549 back in January 2009 and hence made him a household name. It was a coming-out party of sorts for the Swiss brand, named for watchmaking pioneer Daniel JeanRichard, which has long been the lesser-known of the two watch brands in the Sowind Group (the other being Girard-Perregaux), acquired in 2011 by Gucci parent company PPR. In an interview with WatchTime prior to the event, Jeanrichard COO Bruno Grande outlined the company’s strategy and Sullenberger himself spoke about his career-long relationship with timekeeping and how it led him to partnering with a watch brand. Bruno Grande and Captain Sully Sullenberger Last year, Jeanrichard announced the launch of its 1681 Ronde collection, a round, vintage-look timepiece with the brand’s in-house caliber JR1000; last week’s event, in which JR unveiled the sporty Terrascope model and a new version of the 1681 in the brand’s signature cushion-shaped case, represented the next step in the gameplan. “We want to separate Jeanrichard — from a product standpoint as well as a strategy standpoint — from Girard-Perregaux,” Grande said, “in a way that gives both brands real legitimacy. In the past, JR was too close to G-P, making tourbillons, minute repeaters, perpetual calendars and using only manufacture movements. We will not be making as many complications as before and using only one in-house movement [the JR1000] — and prices will start around $2,500.” The Jeanrichard strategy going forward will focus on a smaller, streamlined collection of “four pillars” — the 1681, which, Grande explained, “represents the heritage and craftsmanship of Daniel JeanRichard and uses only manufacture movements,” plus three additional collections, more in a sport watch vein, representing the elements: air, earth, and water. The “earth” pillar is the new Terrascope (below); “water” will be a revamped version of the brand’s existing Aquascope divers’ watch; “air” will be an all-new (presumably pilots-style) model called the Aeroscope. The latter two, Grande revealed, will make their debuts at the Baselworld watch fair in April. The Aquascope and Terrascope both use a Sellita base movement, while the Aeroscope will have a chronograph movement developed with Dubois Dépraz. JeanRichard new Terrascope     Grande says that the new collection (which will result in some existing models, like the Highlands, eventually phased out) will better embody that elusive concept of “brand DNA,” chiefly by focusing on consistency in its complex case constructions. “One of the problems with Jeanrichard before was that while every single product was very nice, together there was no DNA,” he stated. “We wanted the collection to look like one brand rather than 20 brands. So we start with the same case construction, but different finishes. The edges on the Terrascope are sharper than the ones on the 1681, which are more rounded and elegant. Also, if you look at the new 1681 [below], the indices are the same [as on the Terrascope] and the hands are the same shape, but ‘stretched’ to look more elegant. If you see all these watches in a display, you’ll see the same look and feel.” JeanRichard new 1681 The partnership with Capt. Sullenberger, according to Grande, was a natural fit for the new Jeanrichard active-lifestyle motto, “The Philosophy of Life.” Rather than pursue other types of celebrities such as actors and athletes, the company sought a more “down-to-earth” spokesman. “In Sully, we found an ordinary man who did an extraordinary thing,” Grande said. Sullenberger, who discovered just a few years ago that he had Swiss ancestry, also found the idea of pairing with a Swiss watch brand appealing. “I’ve always worn a watch and I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of time,” he told WatchTime. “I also learned to fly at an early age, and having an accurate watch to keep track of the fuel flow in an airplane is important… you always have a limited amount of fuel and time and you need to use both wisely.” Sullenberger put that notion into practice — both as a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force during the late 1969s and 1970s, in which he used wristwatches and mechanical clocks mounted into the aircraft dashboards to navigate at high speeds under enemy radar, and, most famously, on that fateful day in 2009. Just 100 seconds after takeoff — Sully has an uncanny memory for the details — the plane he was piloting from New York’s LaGuardia Airport, bound for Charlotte, NC, encountered a large flock of Canada geese that damaged both engines. After realizing the extent of the damage (this was at about 208 seconds), Sully had a decision to make, one in which time was a definitive factor. “I spent about 25 or 30 seconds evaluating each possibility,” he recalls. “I realized that I couldn’t reach either LaGuardia or Teterboro, and the only other place in the whole New York metropolitan area in my gliding radius that we could even attempt to land that was smooth enough, long enough, and wide enough for an airliner was the Hudson River. I knew the clock was ticking and I knew the altimeter was ticking… gravity was bringing us closer and closer to the earth and my only choice was where it was going to be and what our speed would be when we got there.” This spring, Sullenberger will visit Baselworld as a guest of Jeanrichard, for the launch of its new Aeroscope and Aquascope watches. While in his ancestral homeland, he says, he looks forward to finally visiting Sowind’s manufacture in La Chaux-de-Fonds and meeting the watchmakers. “It’s one of those things that the more I learn about it, the more I appreciate it,” he said. “There are really incredible devices.” Sully Sullenberger wearing JeanRichard
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