For most people the name Bentley is synonymous with high performance luxury automobiles normally reserved for the rich and famous. These incredible vehicles are beautifully designed and highly aspirational. It would be fair to say that their timepieces have a significantly lower profile.
In 1948 Bentley , the watch brand was originally established in the picturesque location of La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. In the world of horology this area is considered a prime location for Swiss watchmaking. Presently they have several collections including the Astral, Bourbon, Denarium, Lady Bentley, Sea Captain and Veneur. All of these timepieces have design merit but my personal favourite is the Solstice collection. Recently the company sent me a press release announcing they will be showcasing these timepieces at Basleworld.
When writing an article about Bentley watches it is hard not to cite Brietling as a reference point. Their partnership has been incredibly successful and has resulted in the production of some exquisite watches. However some might argue the timepieces are more identifiable with Brietling than Bentley. Nevertheless buyers are prepared to pay a premium to own these exclusive watches. In contrast, Bentley’s own watches are lower priced and more affordable.
My first impression of the Solstice 81-40010 is very positive. It has a high quality appearance. Dimensionally the watch measures an imposing 48.90mm x 45mm, which should make a bold statement. These masculine proportions should appeal to a wide variety of buyers especially car enthusiasts. I also think this watch would feel lightweight and comfortable on the wrist. Primarily this is down to the elegant cushion shaped case and choice of stainless steel in production. For that reason this watch would be suitable to wear for most occasions including formal events.
Aesthetically the Solstice 81-40010 has a very distinctive and sporty façade. The dial is stylish and loosely represents the dashboard of a motor vehicle. The textured weaved background is effective although I would have preferred carbon fiber. Other successful features include the extra large second counter (located at 6 o’clock) and retrograde chronograph display. Personally I am really surprised Bentley hasn’t incorporated more elements from their luxury automobiles. For example the use of real wood, leather and chrome would have been sensational. A few contemporary watchmakers (like Meccaniche Veloci and March LA.B) have adopted this strategy and had some interesting results.
To power the Solstice 81-40010 I would have expected a powerful mechanical engine. Instead Bentley has equipped the watch with a Swiss quartz RONDA G15.261 movement. Hopefully in the near future the company will rectify this and produce some automatic versions. It is pertinent to mention there are nine other attractive models to choose from in this collection.
By Steve Huyton
You can read more reviews by Steve Huyton on www.totalwatchreviews.com