Breitling, the Swiss prestige watch brand whose connection to automobiles dates back well over a century, made its debut as Official Time Partner at the 2018 edition of the Concours d’Elégance Suisse, which was held from June 22 to 24, 2018.
While Breitling’s presence at this year’s Concours d’Elégance Suisse signaled a new chapter in its association with fine motorcars, it also marked a continuation of the luxury watch brand’s connection to motoring that dates back to the early years of the twentieth century.
In 1905, Breitling’s founder Léon Breitling applied for a Swiss patent for the first chronograph specifically designed to measure the speeds of racing cars. Interestingly, in the same year, it was a Breitling timepiece that allowed the Swiss police to issue the country’s very first speeding tickets, so motorists who chose to race on the motorways instead of the tracks might not have been pleased by the brand’s flawless timekeeping performance.
The link to racing drivers that started early in the twentieth century continued, and Formula 1 legends Graham Hill and Jim Clark sported Breitling’s iconic Navitimers in the 1960s. In the intervening years, Breitling distinguished itself with timepieces for aviators, scientists, sportsmen, and divers, but the Breitling sports chronographs were also a favorite for use on automobile dashboards.
The Concours d’Elégance Suisse gives owners of some of the world’s most outstanding classic and vintage cars a chance to display their immaculate showpieces, with some 70 beautifully preserved vehicles presented in four dedicated classes at the Château de Coppet near Lake Geneva this year.
The theme of the 2018 edition, 1920–1939: From Modernity to Design, particularly resonates with Breitling because it was in that era that the brand forged the strong links to motoring and aviation that remain such a rich part of its legacy. It was also a period of groundbreaking design, and many of Breitling’s current products were inspired by those decades that so importantly bridged the gap between the past and the present.
At the Concours d’Elégance Suisse, Breitling took the opportunity to highlight its heritage. Celebrated watch collector Fred Mandelbaum explored the history of the brand in a moderated discussion with representatives of Breitling’s management board. The talk was complemented by a display of some of the vintage Breitling models that helped drive the brand’s success in its early years.
At its pop-up boutique on the lawn of the Château de Coppet, Breitling presented the striking new timepieces that have already found favor with the brand’s expanded customer base. Historic Breitling models from the 1920s and 1930s were also on display alongside the watches from the current collection.
At the Concours d’Elégance Suisse, Breitling also celebrated its ongoing partnership with Bentley Motors. Selected media representatives and influencers enjoyed a unique brand experience, which included an opportunity made possible by the Bentley Drivers Club – Swiss Region. They had the chance to drive some distinguished classic Bentleys – including a 1947 Le Mans 8 Open Tourer – through the scenic Swiss countryside between the Château de Coppet and Breitling’s Chronométrie in La Chaux-de-Fonds.