Unlike other automotive and watchmaking brand collaborations, Bentley Motors’ partnership with Breitling is the world’s longest-running and most successful and, arguably, the most iconic. This year, the British marquee celebrates its 100th anniversary with the Centenary Limited Edition – Continental GT Number 9 Edition by Mulliner. Breitling also marks the occasion with their 18k red gold Breitling Premier Bentley Centenary Limited Edition. Here’s why this timepiece is so important.
The Breitling-Bentley partnership began in 2002. Bentley commissioned Breitling to create an onboard clock for the 2003 Paris debut of a new type of Grand Tourer (GT). For more than a decade after, the dynamic brand duo went on to deliver special timepieces like the Bentley B06, a “30-second chronograph,” the Bentley B04, GMT, and the Bentley B05 Uptime.
‘’The highly successful and long-standing collaboration between Bentley and Breitling is an impressive example of how brands with shared values work together in an authentic way to enhance the performance of both,’’ says Adrian Hallmark, Chairman and Chief Executive of Bentley Motors. “The new Premier Centenary Limited Edition,” Hallmark continues, “is a testament to our globally successful partnership of many years and to our commitment to the future.”
Produced in 18k red gold or stainless steel versions, the Premier Centenary Limited Edition sports a truly unique wooden brown burl elm dial with black subdials (chronograph minute counter at 3 o’clock; small seconds subdial, 9 o’clock). Contrasting subdials indicate Breitling’s flagship manufacture Caliber 01, with a 70-hour power reserve.
The movement is visible through a transparent case back with the Bentley logo; if you get the 18k gold version (and who wouldn’t), the “ONE OF 200” inscription is engraved; “One of 1000” is inscribed on the steel version; and the dial has a white tachymeter scale on a black inner bezel around the dial, with a red tachymeter inscription.
On the left side of the 42mm steel case, you’ll also see a plate with “Bentley” engraved—a subtle nod to the dashboard of the supercharged 1929 “Blower” Bentley. A COS-certified chronometer, the Centenary Limited Edition in 18k red gold boats a brown leather strap with pattern and stitching inspired by Bentley seats.
And yet, it’s been nearly a century (the 1920s) since the “Bentley Boys” went on a five year 24 Hours of Le Mans-winning streak. The Bentley Boys were a group of well-heeled British motorists led by financier and fellow racing enthusiast, Woolf Barnato. Sir Thomas “Tim” Stanely Birkin, one of the group’s most legendary members, broke numerous records in the No. 9—his own car. In fact, it was his vision that brought the supercharger to a Bentley. The “4 ½ Litre Supercharged” would go on to become widely known as the “Blower” Bentleys.
Bentley masterfully pays homage to Sir Tim in the Bentley Continental GT Number 9 Edition by Mulliner with a wooden insert from his iconic 1930 No. 9 L Mans race car. Set in resin, the insert is placed squarely in the center of the dial of the rotating display. The wooden dials embody not only the allure of the Premier Bentley Centenary Limited Edition, but a commitment to unparalleled luxury, peerless quality, and extraordinary performance reminiscent of Bentley’s dominance of the Le Mans, the world’s oldest active sports car race. Racing heritage never looked so good.