Baume & Mercier and the Spirit of Indian MotorcycleBy Keith W. Strandberg
At the EICMA in Milan, Italy, the most important motorcycle show in the world, Baume & Mercier today introduced the first limited edition to come out of its partnership with Indian Motorcycle — the Clifton Club Indian Burt Munro’s Chronograph Limited Edition timepiece
A Little History Lesson
Indian, founded in 1901, is the oldest operating motorcycle company in the USA, predating Harley-Davidson, the 800-pound gorilla in the industry, by two years. Baume & Mercier was founded 71 years before Indian, in 1830, predating many of the most recognizable companies by decades. Baume & Mercier and Indian have both stood for quality, precision and innovation since they were founded.
In fact, Indian has a history of setting and trying to break land speed records, pushing the rider and the machine to is limits. One of the icons in this “need for speed” is…
Burt Munro was a motorcyclist who was determined to set a land speed record on his personal 1920 Indian Scout. From New Zealand, Munro tinkered in his shed on his Indian Scout for 46 years, setting various speed records along the way. Obsessed with squeezing every last drop of performance out of his bike, Munro finally made the journey to the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1967, exactly 50 years ago, to try and set the land speed record. Munro was 63 and a grandfather when he threw his leg over his Scout, shrouded in an Indian-red aerodynamic shell with his yellow number 35 emblazoned on its side, his feet planted firmly on the packed and gritty salt of Bonneville. During his time at Bonneville, he clocked an unofficial speed of 212 mph – more than four times the bike’s original top speed. His officially timed speed of 183.586 mph (rounded up to 184mph) was then, and still remains, the fastest speed ever officially recorded by an Indian motorcycle in the 1000cc class. Burt Munro passed away in 1978, a legend in the speed game.
This year, Lee Munro, Burt’s first cousin’s grandson, went back to Bonneville. With the backing of Indian and Baume & Mercier, and riding a modern-day Indian Scout, the new Munro endeavored to set a new record, and did. Lee and the Indian/Baume & Mercier team achieved 191 mph, going beyond the 184-mph set by Burt, and almost reaching the Holy Grail figure of 200 mph.
Since the new Indian has a displacement of 1350 cc, both records stand – Burt’ s Indian set the record at 1000 ccs!
The Clifton Club Indian Burt Munro’s Chronograph Limited Edition is a chronograph with design bits taken from Indian and the Burt Munro record-setting 1920 Indian Scout. For a start, Burt’s lucky number 35 is the background to the seconds counter, and a horizontal black line cuts across the dial, just like it did on the aerodynamic shell of the bike. The silver-colored dial is sandblasted and snailed, resulting in a surface that is meant to approximate that of the Bonneville Salt Flats. The counters of the chronograph are inspired by speedometers, and the 184-mph speed record is highlighted on the tachymeter scale on the bezel. One of my favorite design touches is the strap is a deep Vermillion color, exactly matching that of the World’s Fastest Indian.
The counterweight of the second hand is the same as the “I” in Indian logo, and the “Indian Head” symbol of the motorcycle brand is engraved on the caseback.
The Burt Munro chronograph is limited to 1,967 pieces, commemorating the year that he set the speed record.
Indian and Baume & Mercier
Both brands have history that stretches back more than 100 years, so the partnership to create special timepieces and communication opportunities makes perfect sense.
In addition to this Munro-inspired limited edition, look for more limited editions and regular collection timepieces to be released during SIHH and beyond.
“I love Baume & Mercier watches, and I think they can really help us with awareness,” says Steve Menneto, CEO of Polaris, the parent company of Indian Motorcycle. “Indian is a famous name in motorcycling, to be sure, but so many people don’t know we are back and better than ever.”
Baume & Mercier and Indian are closely aligned in their approach to innovation, quality and lifestyle, as well as the importance of telling stories.
“We share the same vision for the future, because you can’t just rely on the past,” says Alain Zimmermann, CEO, Baume & Mercier. “When you see how much we both focus on innovation and the desire to create unique events, this is where the product, whether it is a watch or a motorcycle, is the messenger of the emotion.
“The stories are some of the things I really love about Indian, like the Burt Munro story,” Zimmerman continues. “You have a guy who was so courageous, who was willing to push boundaries, which is what we found in our history. This is not a licensing deal, it is a true partnership and it is not limited in time.”
The Clifton Club Indian Burt Munro’s Chronograph Limited Edition is an impressive start to a partnership from which we expect a great deal. Rest assured, there is plenty more to come, so keep watching this space and Revolution magazine for watch experiences, Indian test rides, combined adventures, interviews and more, all in purpose of helping Baume & Mercier and Indian tell their stories.
And we all love a good story, don’t we?
Especially when it involves a motorcycle.