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Breitling Just Partnered with Norton Motorcycles

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Swiss watchmaker Breitling and English motorcycle-maker Norton have just announced a partnership that seems like a match made in heaven. They hope this will lead to innovative products and features – and so are we!

These great brands have a lot in common: both possess a strong heritage that dates back to the nineteenth century and both were founded by “visionaries who gave their names to their companies and, to a large extent, defined their industries”.

Breitling’s History

Breitling SA was created in 1884 in Saint-Imier, Bernese Jura, by Léon Breitling. When he was only 24 years old, he manufactured the first counter chronograph by himself, which was the start of his company.

Breitling watches have long since been linked to aeronautics. This rich heritage developed with Léon’s son, Gaston, after he took over his father’s business as he developed an interest in aviation after seeing all the developments occurring at the time.

In the 1940s, Breitling added a circular slide rule to the bezel of their watches so that they could be used by pilots (this became the Navitimer model). In 1961, Scott Carpenter, one of the astronauts in the Mercury space program, had the idea of incorporating a 24-hour dial in the watch, which he later wore on his 1962 flight mission.

To this day, the brand’s commitment to aviation is legendary.

Ernst Schneider bought the company in 1979 and, while the majority stake was sold in 2017, the Schneider family still owns 20% of Breitling. Breitling’s changes didn’t end there, as the brand now has a new CEO, Georges Kern, who arrived at the company in the summer of 2017 after leaving Richemont.

Norton Motorcycles’ History

The story of Norton Motorcycles started in 1898, in Birmingham, when James Lansdowne founded the company as a manufacturer of ‘fittings and parts for the two-wheel trade’. By 1902, the first Norton bikes were being produced with French and Swiss engines and, by 1907, Rem Fowler won the Isle of Man twin cylinder class riding a Norton.

This led to the start of a racing tradition.

In 1908, the brand built its first Norton-engined motorcycle, powered by a single cylinder side valve unit. The year after this, Harrods started selling Norton bikes.

Norton Motorcycles continue to grow and thrive and, today, their headquarters are at Donington Park, where they moved to in 2008. In 2009, the CEO who relaunched the company at its current location, Stuart Garner, also set the World Speed Record for a Rotary Powered Motorcycle (173 miles per hour for a timed mile).

The company still possesses a strong and successful race history, and they show no signs of stopping.

Why Breitling and Norton are Perfect Together

Despite coming from very different worlds – horology and bikes – Breitling and Norton Motorcycles see a bright future together.

In Stuart Garner’s own words: “I’ve always said that the key to a company’s success is to let the brand be the brand. This has been essential both at Norton Motorcycles and Breitling. We haven’t tried to change the nature of our brands or deny their histories. In fact, we revel in those histories and take inspiration from them while focusing on the future.”

Both companies do have long and rich histories that make it easy to see the parallels between them. Breitling’s link to aviation and focus on the creation of specially crafted chronographs is renowned around the world, and Norton is considered the British motorcycle manufacturer with high-quality bikes that speak for themselves.

According to Georges Kern, Breitling’s CEO, his brand’s similarities with Norton are many, with both being “innovative and entrepreneurial” and having “powerful legacies.” He goes on to say that “at the same time, we are looking ahead toward what we at Breitling call ‘our legendary future’.”

The idea behind Breitling’s and Norton Motorcycles’ partnership is for them to inspire each other and create unique and innovative things that haven’t been seen before. For the watchmaking giant, this partnership will also include the use of some of the materials used in Norton motorcycles’ high-performance bikes.

According to Breitling, the new watches will “incorporate DNA elements from both brands, offering wristwatch and motorcycle fans a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to express their individuality by flying – at once – the colours of an emphatically Swiss watchmaker and the ultimate ‘British-made’ motorcycle manufacturer.”

The passion that both these brands show for their products is notorious and so is the love of their fans. So, by combining the two, and the reputation they both have for being ‘cool’, should lead to a fantastic “combination of aspirational, statement-making brands.”

For now, all we can do is imagine the wonderful creations that are being developed and will grace the horology and motorcycles worlds.

 

breitling and norton motorcycles partnership

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