Breitling for Bentley: combining elegance and excellence (Part 1)
Breitling and Bentley, Bentley and Breitling. In other words, when an aviation watch specialist lionizes the best of car manufacturers. The Breitling for Bentley collection is one of the oldest and richest watch/car partnerships.
Breitling and Bentley have been partners for a long time as they share many values, such as their logo’s "flying B", and a passion for refined work, style and performance. Theirs is a common philosophy that the partnership's motto perfectly illustrates: "The great luxury in life is time. Savour every second".
In only a few years, it has become one of the most prestigious and sought-after collections of exceptional watches in the niche watch/car market. Made for all the fans of the "Flying B" cars and for aficionados of sports watches, it has even appealed to the ex-international footballer David Beckham, who was drawn to these Swiss watches that celebrate British elegance.
Bentley Continental GT: a prestigious clock for a superlative coupé
The partnership started when the prestigious car manufacturer Bentley was working on its Grand Tourisme coupé, the Continental GT. The brand wanted only the best for this new model that symbolized a fresh start. Indeed, it had then recently been acquired by the German group Volkswagen. Before the acquisition in 1998, Bentley cars had only just been rebadged Rolls Royce cars with only the radiator grill as the most striking visual feature
And to offer only the best, the designers gave a racy and timeless silhouette to the car. They also made a refined passenger compartment that lived up to the brand's legendary reputation. It was equipped with the best leather, carpets and precious wood and each detail was an unmissable reference to the excellence of Bentley cars. In 2002, Bentley made a request to Breitling to design the dashboard clock of the Continental GT as the watchmaking brand was renowned for the quality of its watches. Introduced in 2003, the prestigious coupé was a hit. Voted as "the world's most beautiful car", it reinvigorated the image of the British car manufacturer and became the face of the German group's sports car range. The dashboard clock was an analogue watch embedded into the center console. It furthermore perfectly fitted into the passenger compartment as it was traditional, sporty and luxurious.
71st edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans: an exclusive timepiece for a historical victory
Since the collaboration hit it off perfectly, Breitling expressed a wish to strengthen ties with the British car manufacturer. In 2003, the manufacture was announced official time partner of the Team Bentley, the racing team of the British car manufacturer. After 73 years of absence and five legendary championships between 1924 and 1930, it made a great comeback at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2001. Two Speed 8 prototypes were entered into the LM GTP category with the clear intention of resuming the winning streak and glorious sports past of the brand founded in 1919. And so, on June 15 2003, car number 7 driven by Tom Kristensen, Rinaldo Capello and Guy Smith, won the 2 Tours d’Horloge with car number 8 following right behind. Since the Breitling colors were proudly displayed on the prototypes' body, there was no doubt that the brand had played some part in this sixth stylish victory.
To celebrate this historic double victory, Breitling issued an exclusive commemorative piece that laid the foundations for the Breitling for Bentley collection. The Breitling for Bentley 24 H Limited Edition stood out thanks to its original 24-hour display, a clear reference to the legendary racing competition in Le Mans. Its large 48.7-mm case that comes with a link strap gives it a resolutely masculine and sporty air. Water resistant to 100 meters, it features a notched bezel with a marble finish that reminds us of the aluminum on the dashboard of Bentley cars.
The toothed turning bezel activates the "variable tachometer" function, a feature exclusive to Breitling that enables the measurement of average speed, distance travelled or maximum speed. The case back is engraved with "Speed 8" and "Edition Limitée 24 Heures du Mans".
The chronograph was produced in 1,000 steel pieces and was also issued in three exclusive series of 24 yellow gold pieces, as a tribute to each driver in the race. The black tricompax dial's design is an allusion to the great driver watches that brought Breitling so much success. The watch features the words "Breitling for Bentley" at 12 o'clock and "24 Heures du Mans" in red on top of the chronograph's hour counter at 6 o'clock. It also houses the self-winding Breitling 22 caliber that was designed on an ETA 2892-A2 basis and is a certified "Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres" (COSC) chronometer. With a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour, it is equipped with a flyback chronograph function and provides a 42-hour power reserve.
This model was immediately successful and was out of stock in a short time. This spurred Breitling on to new horizons by making a luxury watch range with a connection to cars.
And thus, one of the most prestigious and actively sought-after watch collections dedicated to a car maker was born. The partnership now even has a website.
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