In June, Breitling and Bentley Motors marked their 10th anniversary as partners with a combined aviation and motoring event at the Ternhill Royal Air Force Base in England, not far from Crewe, where Bentley builds its coveted autos.
Naturally, the Breitling for Bentley milestone was marked with new watches—three COSC-certified chronographs powered by movements developed and manufactured inhouse, each endowed with a column wheel, a vertical coupling clutch and a 70-plus hour power reserve.
Dealers and special guests from around the world had the chance to drive a new Bentley Flying Spur well before it arrived in dealerships, test their driving skills in a maneuvering challenge and even take a ride in a 1930 Bentley Blower. For those anxious to explore the wild blue yonder, Breitling's aviation team offered tandem skydiving, aerobatic flying with champion pilot Nigel Lam in an MX2, plus the chance to strap yourself to the top of a Boeing-Stearman biplane for a wing walk.
As a manufacturer of pilot's watches for more than half a century, Breitling takes its aviation roots very seriously. The brand owns more than 20 aircraft staffed with professional civilian pilots, skydivers, and wing-walkers who tour the world performing at air shows and at annual client events such as the one at Ternhill.
"It's one thing for a brand to have a marketing campaign and just associate themselves with pilots," explains Thierry Prissert, president of Breitling USA. "It's another thing to really live it, and Breitling lives it. We believe in having clients experience that world-to meet the pilots, fly with them and understand our roots."
For frequent fliers of the passenger variety, the Bentley B04 GMT ($11,085 in steel with rubber strap) and Bentley B05 Unitime ($13,510 in steel, $37,465 in red gold) offer travel time functions, including the Bentley collection's first world time watch.
The B06 ($11,770 in steel on bracelet, $32,955 in red gold on crocodile strap) stands apart for its 30-second chronograph, which was inspired by a Breitling system that was patented in 1926. The watch's central hand completes a full revolution around the dial in only 30 seconds, enhancing the precision of 1/8th-second time measurement. The rotating bezel also features an exclusive variable tachometer, which allows you to calculate average speed no matter how much time has elapsed, distance covered, or fastest speed reached.
All the Breitling for Bentley models take design cues from the automobiles. The knurled motif on the bezel, for example, is a Bentley hallmark. The open-worked dials of the B04 and B06 are evocative of a Bentley's radiator grill. Sapphire crystal case backs reveal a sculpted rotor in the shape of a wheel rim.
"This is the first year we have equipped the Bentley collection with in-house movements," says Prissert, noting how that underscores the collection's importance. In addition to having similar logos with a letter "B" and a pair of wings, Prissert says the two brands are kindred spirits. "Bentley represents the mix of a sports car and a luxury car, and Breitling is similar in that way," he adds. "The watch looks great, but it also offers great mechanical performance."