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The Bentley Boys - An ultra-exclusive chronograph

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Pre-WWII Racing Topics:  Bentley

The Bentley Boys - An ultra-exclusive chronograph

Albert Smithston
May 25, 2007

Between 1924 and 1930, Bentley won the famous Le Mans 24 Hours race five times. This was the era of the legendary Bentley Boys. As a partner to the British car manufacturer, Breitling has chosen to mark the occasion by issuing a limited series dedicated to this top-level competition.

Gifted sportsmen, genuine amateurs and high-spirited ladies' men, the Bentley Boys raced primarily for honor, fired by a taste for challenges. For four consecutive years, from 1927 to 1930, they won the race in great style. Their names were "Benjy" Benjafield, a Harley Street doctor; Tim Birkin, the best British driver of the period; Sammy Davis, chief editor of The Autocar magazine; Bernard Rubin and Glen Kidston... But the most famous of all was Woolf Barnato, a multimillionaire South African diamond merchant. This flamboyant figure, who did much to establish the legend of the Bentley Boys in the public imagination,won the Le Mans 24 Hours race three years in a row. In 1928, he came first with Rubin. In 1929 with Tim Birkin at the wheel of a Speed 6, he dominated the race from start to finish, scarcely rivaled by a threesome of 4.5 Litre Bentleys driving a hundred or so kilometers behind them. In 1930, he won an historic triumph for his last race. An ultra-exclusive chronograph

To celebrate its presence alongside Team Bentley, replica watch has chosen to issue a chronograph dedicated to this legendary race. The Bentley Le Mans chronograph is a limited edition of 1,000. It is powered by a selfwinding movement with 24-hour display, an allusion to the length of the race. This original and exclusive mechanism ¨C Breitling Caliber 22 ¨C also has a Flyback function. In another aesthetic reference to the Le Mans 24 Hours race, the engine-turned surface of the bezel is inspired by the dashboard finish of the Bentleys which won the race five times between 1924 and 1930: the 3 Litre Bentleys, the 4 1/2 Litre, the 4 1/2 Blowers and the Speed 6.

Inspired by motor-racing, the Bentley Le Mans chronograph is equipped with a variable tachometer, another exclusive Breitling replica watch feature. Used in conjunction with the chronograph, this device enables one to measure average speed, whatever the time elapsed, the distance covered or the speed reached. In much the same way as a slide rule, the variable tachometer is activated by the rotation of the outer bezel, which drives a pinion and arbor acting on the inner bezel. This clever mechanical solution guarantees precise read-off of the measured speeds. The Bentley Le Mans chronograph is an imposing 48.7 mm in diameter, making it the largest of all Breitling chronographs.

However, thanks to its ingenious construction, it can adapt to most wrist sizes: a hollowed recess in the case enables the bracelet to swivel freely on its axis to ensure a perfect fit on the wrist. In addition to the limited series of 1,000 in steel, this collector's chronograph also comes in a yellow gold version, issued in three series of 24 worldwide. The silhouette of the Bentley Speed 8 appears on the back of each case.

Bently Le Mans

Movement: Breitling replica watch Caliber 22, chronometer-certified, selfwinding high-frequency (28,800 vibrations per hour), 38 jewels. 24-hour display. 1/4th of a second chronograph, 30-minute and 12-hour totalizers, Flyback function. Calendar. Case: limited series of 1,000 in steel and 3 limited series of 24 in 18K yellow gold. Water-resistant to 330 ft (100 m). Screw-locked crown. Rotating pinion bezel with variable tachometer: Diameter: 48.70 mm Straps/bracelet: leather, crocodile leather, buffalo leather/ Speed bracelet.

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