Actor, pilot John Travolta stars in 2005 Breitling ad campaign

John Travolta, movie star and seasoned pilot, will appear in a new global advertising campaign for Breitling, the Swiss luxury sport and pilots watch.

“The focus is on the combined passions of flying and precision that both John Travolta and Breitling hold in high esteem,” says Lisa Roman, marketing director for Breitling USA.

This is the first time that Breitling has featured a celebrity in its advertising.

The campaign will start this spring in aviation publications and by early summer move into such national magazines, as Men’s Health, Men’s Journal, GQ, Automobile, and Elite Traveler.

Travolta, a veteran pilot, is certified on eight types of planes (including the Boeing 747-400 jumbo jet) and has over 5,000 flying hours. He’s been an avid aviation fan since he was a child in New Jersey. The ad, photographed at his Florida home’s private runway, is headlined: “Profession: Actor, Career: Acting.” He is shown wearing the popular Breitling Navitimer, with one of his planes in the background.

Travolta began flight lessons at 16, paid for by his first paychecks as an actor, and at 19, earned his pilot’s license. He travels the world at the controls of his own airliner. His Ocala, Fla., home has its own private runway for jumbo jets, a taxiway leading to the house and a terminal to accommodate his planes.

The new ad campaign builds on what Marie Bodman, Breitling USA president, called the “best year ever” in 2004 for the Swiss watch in the United States. Business rose 38%. The brand has a distribution network of 315 U.S. retailers.

Breitling, founded in 1884 in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland (still its headquarters), is well known of its many precision timepieces, popular both with style setters and pilots. Those include the Chronomat (1942), the first chronograph with a circular slide rule, relaunched in 1984 and still a best seller, and the Navitimer, (1952) a “super chronograph” with navigation computer, a favorite with pilots worldwide for 50 years. Breitling also has ties with the affluent car sector, whose consumers are often also avid fans of fine watches. In 2004, it formed a branding partnership with British luxury car maker Bentley Motors and has introduced several chronographs bearing both brands’ names.