Breitling for Bentley

Breitling and Bentley both have strong traditions as family-owned companies. Bentley was founded as such in 1919, and Breitling already back in 1884.

By Britta Rossander

Breitling for Bentley.

Breitling for Bentley.

Bentley’s founder, Walter Owen Bentley, was a big name in airplane engines before he got into the motorcar business. This may have been one of the reasons why Teddy Schneider, Breitling CEO with a Bentley in his garage, figured an alliance between the two companies would be beneficial to both. No other brand in the watch business is as closely associated with aviation as Breitling.

Teddy Schneider

Teddy Schneider

Leon Breitling 1884

Leon Breitling 1884

– The whole thing started when Bentley got in touch with us to ask if we wanted to sponsor Team Bentley for their comeback in the Le Mans 24-hour race, Breitling’s junior CEO Jean-Paul Girardin who was present when the contract was signed answers the question of how the co-operation came about.

– This was in 2003. When we started discussing the different possibilities, we both realized that a deeper co-operation would be mutually beneficial. We agreed to not only sponsor the Bentley 8 EXP Speed ​​Race, but also put our mark on the dashboard with a specially designed clock in the new Bentley Continental GT Coupé. At the same time we decided to develop a whole new range of watches for the Bentley co-operation, says Jean-Paul Girardin.

I personally remember Breitling’s booth at the fair the year after the contract had been signed. Breitling’s booths have always been spectacular, but this year they had parked a brand new Bentley several meters above the floor level. Everybody’s heart skipped a beat – this was before co-operations between watch brands and car companies had started spreading like wildfire. A Breitling clock on the dashboard confirmed that this was a serious co-operation. Many thought the two companies matched each other well, and B+B didn’t sound too bad either.

David Beckham is one of the famous ambassadors Breitling is using for their ads.

David Beckham is one of the famous ambassadors Breitling is using for their ads.

Ice racing with Bentley in Finland together with World Champion Juha Kankkunen.

Ice racing with Bentley in Finland together with World Champion Juha Kankkunen.

I personally remember Breitling’s booth at the fair the year after the contract had been signed. Breitling’s booths have always been spectacular, but this year they had parked a brand new Bentley several meters above the floor level. Everybody’s heart skipped a beat – this was before co-operations between watch brands and car companies had started spreading like wildfire. A Breitling clock on the dashboard confirmed that this was a serious co-operation. Many thought the two companies matched each other well, and B+B didn’t sound too bad either.

The first watches were hardly a commercial success. Breitling for Bentley are a lot more expensive than standard Breitlings, and the design wasn’t to everybody’s taste. The retailers were also a lot fewer than they are today. But things have improved, the design is less extravagant, and today it’s not unusual for Bentley owners to seriously check out the matching watches to find one that suits them.

Breitling for Bentley Light Body Midnight Carbon Chronograph

Breitling for Bentley Light Body Midnight Carbon Chronograph

All of Breitling’s watches have movements with a C.O.S.C. (Controle Officiel Suisse Des Chronometres) certificate, individually numbered with the watch’s serial number, of course including Breitling for Bentley. This stamp of approval from the independent Swiss organization means that they have tested the watch’s function for fifteen days and nights with five different settings and in three different temperatures. The timekeeping must not deviate more than six seconds for 24 hours, or the movement will not get the certificate. Since Breitling have all of their watches tested, they are definitely the manufacturer that uses C.O.S.C’s resources the most.

Since the collection has been made a little more accessible in later years, sales have increased steadily. I ask Stephane Dehner, CEO at Breitling Nordic outside of Stockholm, which model is the best seller in the Breitling for Bentley range.

– The best seller by far is the GMT model. I wear it a lot myself, says Stephane.