Fifty Years Later, a Watch Honors a Motorcycle Speed Legend

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Fifty Years Later, a Watch Honors a Motorcycle Speed Legend

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Watch brands often see history as marketing gold. It’s certainly one reason Baume & Mercier is partnering on a series of chronographs with Indian Motorcycle, founded in 1901 and the oldest motorcycle company in the United States.

The first fruit of the deal, a $3,750 Burt Munro tribute watch based on the Clifton Club chronograph model, was introduced earlier this month at the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan.

It honors the New Zealander who spent more than four decades working on a 1920 Indian Scout motorcycle and in 1967, at age 68, used it to set a speed record at the Bonneville salt flats in Utah — a record that still stands 50 years later. (The feat was recalled in the 2005 film “The World’s Fastest Indian,” with Anthony Hopkins as Munro.)

The Burt Munro watch is based on the Clifton Club chronograph model and was introduced earlier this month.Credit

The watch dial has a yellow roundel with a bold number 35, Munro’s lucky number; a sandblasted finish to evoke the surface of the Bonneville salt flats; and a seconds hand with a counterbalance in the shape of the stylized Indian “I.”

The calfskin strap is dyed a shade of red typically found on vintage Indian machines, while the case back has the motorcycle brand’s headdress logo and an edition number. A total of 1,967 will be made, a quantity chosen to commemorate Munro’s record-breaking year.

Baume & Mercier’s first link to the transportation world came in 2015, when it struck a deal with the Las Vegas car company Shelby American, creator of the famous Shelby Cobra sports car. A series of Shelby limited editions sold well enough to inspire Alain Zimmermann, the watch company’s chief executive, to seek a two-wheel partner — and Indian emerged as the ideal fit.

“I really think it could be just as successful as the relationship we have with Shelby,” Mr. Zimmermann said. “Indian is such a historic marque with so many great achievements to its name, and the story of Burt Munro is an incredible one that, I think, will really appeal to people.

“It is a great combination of determination, heritage, adventure and engineering,” he said, “all things that tie in with Baume & Mercier’s philosophy.”

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