Back in December 2002, Breitling and Bentley kicked off the trend for watch brands and car makers to form partnerships that, officially at least, are based on things such as ‘shared values’ and ‘parallels in craftsmanship’ – although cynics might say that the main reason for making such arrangements is to facilitate the cross-pollination of client databases.
In any event, the two firms known for their respective winged B logos got together just in time for the following year’s launch of Bentley’s game-changing Continental GT, which coincided with the marque’s reacquaintance with Le Mans glory when its Speed 8 LM GTP cars took first and second places in 2003.
Drivers Tom Kristensen, Guy Smith and Rinaldo Capello (who won) and Mark Blundell, David Brabham and Johnny Herbert were equipped with special Le Mans editions of a Breitling watch based on an existing 24-hour dial Navitimer Cosmonaute model, originally developed for astronaut Scott Carpenter to wear during the orbital flights of Mercury-Atlas 7 in 1962.
The watch was the first variation on the Breitling for Bentley theme, which began with the original Bentley Motors chronograph and grew to include numerous other models, among them the big and brash 6.75, the 500-part Bentley Perpetual, the limited-edition Mulliner Tourbillon, the MK VI named after the first Crewe-built Bentley and the best-forgotten Flying B, a hideous, rectangular-cased effort measuring around 38mm by 57mm and featuring a jump hour display.
Through various hits and misses the partnership has survived for almost 17 years, during which time similar alliances – such as those between Jaeger-LeCoultre and Aston Martin, Panerai and Ferrari, Audemars Piguet and Maserati and Ball Watch Co. and BMW – have fallen by the wayside.
When former IWC boss Georges Kern took-over as Breitling’s CEO in 2017, he soon announced that the deal with Bentley would continue, but that the watches that emerged from it would be more subtle and lower key than in the past.
And the first of those is the Premier Bentley Centenary Edition chronograph, launched at the Geneva Motor Show alongside the £250,000, limited-edition Continental GT Number 9 to celebrate the car maker’s 100th birthday.
The watch features a burr elm dial based on the veneers used in Bentley cars, a Bentley name plate on the case side and the marque logo on the transparent back. Two editions will be available, 1,000 in steel and 200 in red gold, all powered by Breitling’s in-house Caliber 01 self-winding movement.
Breitling Premier Bentley Centenary Edition. £7,950 (steel), £22,500 (red gold). breitling.com
TAG Heuer and Aston Martin have collaborated on a limited-edition version of the DBS Superleggera car that’s finished in Monaco Black paint complemented by red brake callipers, TAG Heuer wing logos and satin black, 21-inch wheel rims shod in red-lined Pirelli tyres. Everyone who buys one of the 50 available cars will get this special TAG Heuer chronograph thrown in. Its dial has red detailing and is perforated to emulate the DBS grille.
TAG Heuer Aston Martin Superleggera DBS Edition. £295,000 (includes car). tagheuer.com
This retro-look chronograph is a contemporary take on the 1973 Navigator, produced to coincide with Tissot’s forays into motor sport as sponsor of Alpine and Porsche. The brand also backed Swiss driver Loris Kessel, who flirted briefly with F1 in the 1970s. His son Ronnie recently rekindled the partnership with Tissot through Kessel Classics. The 43mm model is supplied on the type of perforated strap that Tissot created specifically for 1960s drivers.
Tissot Heritage Chrono Auto 1973. £1,615. tissotwatches.com
Motor Sport’s monthly watch review Precision is written by renowned luxury goods specialist Simon de Burton
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