Breitling to supply product and sponsorship to Bentley Motors

Breitling, one of the world’s leading Swiss luxury watch brands, has teamed up with luxury automaker Bentley Motors to provide timepieces and sponsorship. The co-branding partnership was officially announced at this month’s International Automotive Show in Detroit.

The plans calls for a new Breitling-Bentley chronograph (debuting in April), Breitling-signed dashboard clocks in Bentley’s newly unveiled Continental GT coupe, and Breitling sponsorship of Bentley’s auto racing team (its name firmly positioned across both front wings and side panels of the race car). That starts with the 12-hour Sebring race in Florida in March and the world famous 24-hour Le Mans 2003 auto race in France in May. Marketing programs involving Breitling retailers and Bentley suppliers will come later in the year.

“This is the start of an ongoing relationship [with Bentley],” Lisa Roman, Breitling USA’s marketing director, told JCK.

This is the first time Breitling-well known for its precision chronographs and aviator watches-has worked with and sponsored a major car brand, despite many offers over the years. However, both brands “share a coherent identity which focuses on performance, prestige, and tradition coupled with technical innovation,” says Roman.

“We also see a high correlation between the affluent customers for fine watches, like Breitling, and fine cars, like Bentley. Their aspirations are similar, they appreciate what a watch like Breitling and a car like Bentley can do, and the Breitling customer is often a passionate car collector, as well. In fact, some of the highest response rates we get to our advertising are from readers of some car magazines.”

The partnership began with Breitling’s agreement with the Volkswagen group (which owns Bentley) to supply dashboard clocks to Bentley. It is the first time Bentley has used a branded clock in its cars’ hand crafted interior. The clock is centrally mounted within the Continental GT’s famed Bentley winged interior design, complimenting the adjacent chrome instruments and Bentley’s classic bulls-eye ventilation outlets.

The new chronograph, featuring an exclusive Breitling self-winding movement, will be unveiled in April at the Geneva, Switzerland, auto show and at the 2003 Basel watch and jewelry show in Basel, Switzerland. The watch’s design says Roman “reflects the Continental GT’s distinct styling, including elements which mirror the knurled finishes traditionally found in Bentley cars.”