Timing is impeccable on 57th



Super-luxury Swiss watchmaker Breitling, which manufactures "chrononometers" for use by aviators and astronauts, is coming in for a landing at 5 E. 57th St.

The venerable company will open its first US store on the site of what's now Nokia, taking 8,500 square feet on three levels.

What sources said was a two-year quest just ended at 5 E. 57th, which was also coveted by LVMH. It's a choice location on one of Manhattan's most prime shopping blocks between Madison and Fifth avenues, where retail neighbors include Tiffany, Burberry, Vuitton and Chanel.

The dealmakers involved -- Crown Retail Services' Stephanie Snyder for Breitling, who was traveling, and CBRE's Annette Healey for landlord Duell Management -- could not be reached yesterday.

But retail sources familiar with the location said the asking rent was $2.4 million a year. The space was marketed as a sublease expiring in 2015, but insiders said that Breitling was subsequently able to convert that into a direct-lease deal with the landlord.

Breitling's timepieces sell for up to six figures. Although they're engineered specifically for aviation use, they're more often bought and worn as luxury accessories by the likes of Brad Pitt, Bruce Willis, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Gordon Ramsay and Raquel Welch.

Retail specialists said Breitling makes more sense for the 5 E. 57th Street location than Finnish electronics purveyor Nokia, which is pulling out after only four years.

"They make cellphones, basically," sniffed one neighborhood dealmaker. "They were never the right tenant on that block."