Bentley is one of the worldâs best luxury and performance carmakers. The first car to bear the founder W O Bentleyâs name pulled out of New Street Mews, London in 1919. Almost a century later, they continue to make the finest grand touring cars that retain the DNA of the brandâs wins at the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans, five in the 1920s, plus a sixth in 2003.
From way back in 1884, Breitling has been a specialist of technical watches and this Swiss watchmaker has also played a crucial role in the development of the wrist chronograph. Itâs one of the few companies that produce its own mechanical chronograph movements, and Breitling is also known for its close association with aviation because in the early 1930s, it started making on-board chronographs intended for aircraft cockpits and these were also used by the Royal Air Force in WWII. In 1952, Breitling launched its legendary Navitimer wrist chronograph featuring a circular slide rule serving to perform all navigation-related calculations, and itâs become a cult watch for pilots and aviation enthusiasts. The Navitimer has been continuously manufactured for almost 60 years â making it the worldâs oldest mechanical chronograph still in production.
In 2002, Bentley launched the Continental GT, the most powerful Bentley ever built, and Breitling participated in the design of the technical instruments and created the on-board clock. It was the first time that Bentley had entrusted this task to a watchmaker. In 2003, Bentley made a comeback to the 24 Hours of Le Mans race and finished first and second. As the main sponsor of Team Bentley, Breitling celebrated the victory by issuing a chronograph called the âBentley Le Mansâ, a limited edition of 1,000 units. Since then, Breitling has also made clocks for the Bentley Continental range, the Bentley Flying Spur and the Bentley Bentayga. The most special of these has to be the Mulliner Tourbillon by Breitling that is offered as a $160,000 (`1.07 crore approximately) option on the Bentayga. Yes, thatâ not a typo; this clock costs $160,000! Diamond indices adorn the dial of this bespoke mechanical timepiece, and the case is machined from solid 18-carat rose gold or white gold. Softly backlit, the counterweight at the back of the mechanism has been hollowed out to allow the light to pass through the spinning tourbillon. And, as a finishing touch, the light that shines onto the watch face can be matched to the ambient lighting inside the car, too. The Mulliner Tourbillon by Breitling is equipped with a 60-second automatic flying tourbillon, beating 28,800 times an hour in a striking titanium cage. The exceptional finishing of this tourbillon is enhanced by its gold oscillating weight and by the exquisite hand-bevelling of the bridges. Unlike tourbillon wristwatches, which rely on the movement of the wearer to generate kinetic energy, the Mulliner Tourbillon by Breitling has a winder mechanism that uses a drive system supplied to the aerospace and space industries, making it the most exclusive winder mechanism on the planet!
I recently had the opportunity to visit the Breitling factory in the Swiss mountain town of La Chaux-de-Fonds and was pleasantly surprised that several of the production processes and attention to detail at Breitling are quite like what goes into the making of a Bentley at its factory in Crewe, England. Whatâs different is the size and some of the processes, but the passion for making a high-quality, stylish and precisely made machine is very much the same. Given this itâs no surprise that the grand art of British car making and the great Swiss watch making tradition entered into a partnership. A relation that has since resulted in some really amazing car clocks and the Breitling for Bentley series of wristwatches. Also some wonderful cars like the Bentley Continental GT Speed Breitling Jet Team Series. The Bentley Continental Speed was created in 2015 by the renowned coachbuilders Mulliner, who became part of Bentley business in 1959. The Bentley Continental GT Speed was limited to just seven cars, each inspired by one of the seven Aero L-39 Albatros aircraft of the Breitling Jet Team.
This team is the worldâs largest professional civilian team performing on jets. With its fast and powerful aircraft piloted by flying aces, this unique aerobatics team performs meticulously coordinated aerial ballets in which planes sometimes fly within 3 metres of each other, at speeds of over 700kmph! All the manoeuvres are perfectly calculated, synchronised and fine-tuned, and every show of the Breitling Jet Team generates huge excitement. Renowned for their skill and daring, each year the team performs around 50 demonstrations throughout Europe at air shows, Formula 1 races and other sports events.
In 2015, the Breitling Jet Team performed across the United States and Canada, and to commemorate this spectacle, Bentleyâs Mulliner division created the Continental GT Speed Breitling Jet Team Series. Each of the seven Limited Edition Bentleys is individually numbered and corresponds to one of the seven Breitling jets. The dashboardâs carbon-fibre fascia panel displays an image of the seven planes in their signature Avenger flight formation, with the corresponding jet highlighted in Breitling Yellow. The body of these seven magnificent cars has a special dual-tone paint scheme that reflects the trademark look of the L-39 Albatros jets. This bespoke colour theme is also continued in the interior, with unique sculpted seats featuring accents in Breitling Yellow. Similarly, Bentleyâs Mulliner team has matched the hide and thread to Breitlingâs signature yellow and designed a series of logos and graphics for the headrests that highlight the number of each car and the jet that inspired it. The running board plate plaques are also individually numbered.
The key of each of these Bentleys was handed over to its owner by the corresponding planeâs pilot, at the Boeing Seafair Air Show held in July 2015 in Seattle, where the Breitling Jet Team performed. All the lucky seven owners also went on a flight in the jet that inspired their car. Bentley says the Continental GT Speed maxes out at 320kmph, making it the fastest road-going Bentley ever. This also means that itâs able to match the takeoff speed of the L-39 Albatros jets that inspired it!