Breitling — Wear quality of watch strap
In December of 2014 I purchased a Breitling watch as a Christmas present for my son (a 2nd year Law With Spanish, & Spanish Law at the University of Nottingham).
My son was delighted with the watch and was extremely proud to wear it. He took great care of it and never wore it whilst swimming, showering, or working in a watery environment (cooking or cleaning).
In June of 2015 he left the UK to study in Spain (Valencia) and elected to leave his watch at home due to its value.
On returning Christmas 2015 he wore it for a 2 week period, however left it at home on his return to Valencia.
On returning from Spain in July 2016 he began to wear his watch again. At this point he noticed a split developing in an area of the strap midway between the buckle and the locating pin in the lugs.
He brought the split to my attention and on reviewing it, it was apparent that the split was located in a position where the strap was not being subjected to mechanical strain.
At this point he had worn the watch for a period of approximately 6 months although he had actually owned it for 18 months.
I suggested that he return to the retailer with the watch for them to examine the damage and its location. The retailer in question Beaverbrooks in Meadowhall Sheffield conceded that the split was not in a position where it would be caused by any mechanical stress or strain, however they stated that straps are not covered under the 2 year Breitling International Warranty.
I took this opportunity to review the warranty document and could find no exclusion of straps from the warranty, there was a comment that “fair, wear, and tear is however excluded”.
From this I interpreted that since the split is in a position not subject to mechanical stress/strain then it could not be caused by “fair wear and tear”.
I accept that the wear characteristics displayed around the buckle area would be subject to such forces and felt that this area displays wear patterns commensurate with wear of ~ 6 months.
I therefore asked Beaverbrooks to return the watch to the Breitling service department to determine how the split had occurred.
Subsequently to this I received feedback in the form of an estimate of necessary work totalling £178 inclusive of VAT.
Along with a comment:-
“Please note. As with any leather goods their lifespan varies according to wearing conditions. A genuine leather strap in calfskin or crocodile is no different to a pair of shoes, gloves or bag: when plunged into water, it will deteriorate prematurely. In addition to this exposure to cosmetics and perspiration will certainly hasten the ageing process. A leather strap can last from a few months to several years depending upon conditions of wear.”
I reviewed this statement and investigated whether the watch had been immersed in water, and this isn’t the case. It has not been worn whilst, swimming, showering, washing-up, car cleaning, etc..
My son is a University Student and as such is not involved in any form of activities that can generate heavy wear characteristics.
Other leather goods that he uses on a day-to-day basis do not display heavy wear characteristics; neither is he a prolific user of cosmetic products; or is he involved in activities that result in the generation of large amounts of perspiration.
I sought to compare the wear characteristics exhibited on the strap with wear characteristics that are apparent on a pair of Church’s brogues that I purchased in 1980 - the brogues show signs of wear (worn regularly over the last 36 years) however there are no visible splits or point of failure in them.
I also compared them to leather bags owned by my wife for upwards of 25 years, and gloves owned by both of us and worn through winters for periods exceeding 10 years; that similarly do show signs of wear but have no visible splits as is apparent in the watch strap.
From these comparisons of “fair wear and tear” I concluded that the split in the strap could not be a result of “fair, wear, and tear”.
With this in mind I contacted the service department with a view to explaining this scenario, and in an attempt to establish how this split has occurred.
I have repeatedly asked the question “what force has been applied in this area of the strap to cause this split” - I have been refused feedback on this particular point by each member of the service department I have spoken to.
I do not think this is an unreasonable request.
I have received comments that their are stains commensurate with sweating on the inside of the band - I feel that this is reasonable if a watch id being worn for a period. Again my concern is regarding the split and how it has occurred.
I had it repeated to me that “straps are not covered under the Breitling International Warranty” - I referred the manager of the Service centre in Tunbridge Wells to the section of the Breitling.com website that described the 2 year warranty and the exclusions -
straps are not stated as being excluded.
I repeatedly asked how this split has occurred since it is in a position not subject to stress or strain, - she refused to discuss how this could occur and reiterated the signs of wear in other areas of the strap and the indication that the watch had been worn as displayed by discolouring of the lining.
The only thing I was offered was the same type of strap at a cost to me of £178 - I attempted to discuss whether this seemed an appropriate value for money solution £178 for 6 months wear - representing costs of £32 per month. The comment back was “I am not prepared to discuss mathematics with you” - as a PHD mathematician and a research scientist at Rolls-Royce Aero Engines I was quite disappointed at this.
The purpose of this discussion was an attempt to establish if there are more appropriate solutions to the issues manifested by the excessive wear and splitting occurring in the strap - however the only solution offered was the same strap at a cost of £178 which appears to be not fit for purchase.
I am extremely disappointed in the way I have been treated throughout this process, I was under the impression that Breitling is a company that values customer satisfaction, and set high standards by it..
I am extremely concerned as to why your staff will not discuss how a split has occurred and how it can be avoided in the future - outside of the only advice which was left as a message on my answer phone suggesting the watch should be kept in a drawer and only worn 2 or 3 times a year.
I am open to appropriate suggestions as to how we can progress this matter as I feel that a Breitling watch with an going monthly cost of £32 per month which I was not made aware of as ongoing costs at the time of purchase,
From this it implies that it is “unfit for purpose” to operate as a wristwatch to be worn on a daily basis. I feel that I must raise this issue with Hitachi Finance and Beaverbrooks to make them aware of my disappointment and findings regarding my attempt to interact with the Breitling Service department.
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