The Mulliner Tourbillon represents an exquisite piece of craftsmanship that perfectly illustrates the collaborative success of luxury Swiss watchmaker Breitling and premium British automotive manufacturer Bentley. The two high-end, premium rated brands began working in partnership all the way back in 2003, producing a small number of highly desirable, superbly crafted timepieces that encapsulate the luxurious aesthetics and unparalleled functionally for which both companies are renowned. In the watch in question, they created a timepiece that’s the height of luxury: with highly-sophisticated, state-of-the-art mechanisms and an elegant design, this classic piece is the pinnacle of watchmaking achievement. Here, we take a closer look at what makes this particular timepiece one of the world's most lusted-after accessories (and, with a price tag of around $175,000, one of its most expensive).
A Marriage Made in Heaven
In 2003, Bentley extended Breitling the honor of becoming the first watchmaker to design an onboard clock for its flagship automobile. The two brands have been collaborating ever since, with the watchmaker's CEO Georges Kern celebrating the renewal of their partnership in 2018 with the comment: “Both companies are known for quality, performance, and design excellence, and both can build on powerful historical legacies. It’s an ideal partnership, and, after more than 15 years, it is a pleasure to add another chapter to it.” Adrian Hallmark, Chairman and CEO of the luxury automotive manufacturer, added to Kern’s comment with one of his own: “The long-standing collaboration is a shining example of how, when two like-minded brands work together in an authentic way, the performance of both is enhanced”.
In 2015, the Swiss watchmaker was tasked with creating a clock to feature on the dashboard of Bentley's new luxury SUV, the Bentayga. The result was the Mulliner-Tourbillon, a self-winding clock as lavish as the car itself. Set on a mount that allowed it to be rotated by an electric motor, the clock came in three modes: in demo mode, a single button press rotated the movement three revolutions; in time adjust mode, a three-second press would rotate the clock to expose the crown, allowing the time to be adjusted; finally, if a jolt displaced the clock, it would automatically rewind to neutral mode within 3 seconds.
With a fifty-hour power reserve, twin mainspring barrels, and a handcrafted elegance that perfectly matched the luxurious interior of the Bentayga, the timepiece represented a new height in the Swiss company's watchmaking achievements. As well as offering a choice between a natural or black ebony mother-of -pearl face, a diamond-adorned dial, a solid 18-carat rose gold or white gold casing, and a lightening system that could be adjusted to match the ambient lighting inside the car, the piece featured a range of functionalities (including a 60-second automatic flying tourbillon beating 28,800 times an hour, and a winder mechanism powered by a drive system supplied to the aerospace and space industries) which perfectly demonstrated the breadth of the watchmaker's expertise. As we know, expert craftsmanship doesn’t come for cheap, and with a price tag of around $234,000, the piece clocked in at several thousand dollars over the base price of the SUV itself, something the manufacturer justified by noting it's “most complex of watch mechanisms”. The only thing it seemed you couldn’t do with it was to strap it to your wrist- something that was quickly rectified with the release of a timepiece that took the qualities of the clock and recreated them in wristwatch form.
As noted by Chronext, the Mulliner-Tourbillon represents the result of centuries of tradition and excellence, speaking both of the quintessential British elegance of Bentley and the superlative watchmaking skills of Breitling. The most distinctive feature of the watch is its ability to be almost fully customized according to the wants and wishes of its owner (something which no doubt contributes to its lofty $175,000 price tag). Future owners have a choice of case materials (platinum, yellow gold, rose gold or white gold), strap and dial colors, and case back veneers. Some features can’t be changed, but then again, not many would seek to alter the hand-wound, chronometer-certified chronograph movement, or the original “30-second chronograph”, in any case.
Perhaps just as distinctive as its customizable options is its exclusivity: with just a handful of wristwatches being produced each year, the piece is about as rare as a hen’s tooth. Combine this rarity with its position as one of the most elaborate and exquisite watches ever produced by the Swiss brand, and you’ll understand why this particular timepiece is one of the most expensive watches to ever be released, and one of the chief highlights of the "Breitling for Bentley" collection.
The Technical Data
For fans of complicated watches, this particular timepiece is manna from heaven. Featuring a range of intricate systems and mechanisms, its technical data courtesy here of the brand's official website, makes a worthy read:
- Movement: COSC certified chronometer,18B calibre, twenty-six jewels, hand-wound, mechanical, high-frequency (beating at 21,600 vibrations per hour), one-sixteenth of a second chronograph. Calendar.
- Case: 49 mm in diameter, in a choice of platinum, 18-carat yellow, white or rose gold. A screw lock crown and adjustable pinion bezel with a variable tachymeter. Cambered-sapphire crystal, which has been glare-proofed on both sides.
- Water Resistance: up to 50 meters
- Lug width: 24 mm
- Dial: available in a choice of 15 shades taken from the range of bodywork options available from the automotive brand. Enhanced by mother-of-pearl hour markers.
- Strap: Crocodile leather, available in a range of 10 colors.
Does it justify the final price tag of $175,000? Based on the quality of craftmanship alone, the answer is a resounding yes. Better start saving....
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn