MILAN, ITALY, November 7, 2017
Earlier this year, Baume & Mercier announced a partnership with Indian Motorcycle, America’s First Motorcycle Company. The collaboration captured the iconic spirit and translated it into a racy timepiece: The Clifton Club Burt Munro Tribute Limited Edition. This 1967-piece chronograph model honours the motorcycle racing legend and kickstarts this lifestyle partnership. It was unveiled at EICMA motorcycle show held from 7th to 12th November 2017.
This exclusive timepiece is priced at CHF 3,300 (US$ 3,360) and will be showcased at the SIHH 2018 in Geneva.
“Baume & Mercier is very proud and honored to pay tribute to the Legend Burt Munro. His passion for speed defied boundaries and created a legend that remains today. His spirit, unparalleled determination and legendary optimism have been an exceptional source of inspiration for Baume & Mercier. This Clifton Club Burt Munro Tribute Limited Edition embodies the man and his dream to make the legend last.” – Alain Zimmermann, CEO of Baume & Mercier
Spirit is something Indian has shown in all its efforts in motorcycling, just as Baume & Mercier has in its watchmaking. Out of all of Indian’s achievements, it is the spirit and legend of Burt Munro that has become a part of the fabric of not just Indian’s culture, but of motorcycling culture in general.
When Kiwi, Burt Munro, bought a 1920 Indian Scout motorbike in 1926 it was only capable of 55mph, but after spending the next 40 years modifying it in his shed, the then 68-year-old grandfather took it to the Bonneville Salt flats in Utah, USA. Here set an under 1000cc record speed of 183.59 mph (294.5 km/h). However, Munro’s son, John noticed that the average speed calculation on the original 1967 record certificate was inaccurate and that the speed reached was actually 184.087 mph (296.11 km/h). The official listing was therefore corrected 47 years later, and set the record that still stands today.
The red aerodynamic shell on his Scout, called a streamliner, has the black and yellow race number 35 on it, and this is now instantly recognisable as an icon of the can-do spirit that Burt demonstrated to make his dreams come true and make legendary moments.
“It’s effort and concentration that makes life worthwhile.” – Burt Munro
Clifton Club Burt Munro Tribute Limited Edition
Paying tribute to this 50th anniversary, Baume & Mercier designed a one-of-a-kind watch. Burt was a man of modest means and built his record-breaking Scout using basic tools and even made his own engine parts from salvaged metal. This official Indian Motorcycle watch can be proudly worn to remind the wearer that anything is possible with enough grit and determination and translates the enduring passion, a value conveyed by Baume & Mercier ever since.
This limited edition automatic chronograph features a number of special details designed to commemorate the extraordinary achievement of Burt Munro. Immediately apparent is the large, yellow number 35, Munro’s lucky number, in the chronograph seconds counter.
The “Indian Red” colour of the calfskin strap evokes the deep vermillion colour of Indian Motorcycle Company, and the colour of the Munro Special.
The dial is silver-coloured with sandblasted and snailed finishes, to mimic the surface of the Bonneville Salt Flats, where the record was set.
The counterbalance of the chronograph seconds hand is the immediately recognizable Indian “I.” The 44mm stainless steel case has a tachymeter scale on the bezel, with the ‘184 mph’ record highlighted.
On the back, the famous Indian Headdress logo of the Indian Motorcycle Company is engraved, as well as the number of the limited edition. The Clifton Club Burt Munro Tribute is limited to 1967 pieces for the year that Munro set his iconic record.
The World’s Fastest Indian
Burt flew out from New Zealand to the Bonneville Salt Flats ten times. His first visit was a sightseeing trip to see what it was all about and during the other nine visits, he set three speed records. Burt set his first record in 1962, an 883cc class record of 178.95 mph (288 km/h) with the Scout engine bored out to 850cc. Four years later in 1966, the engine capacity had been punched out to 920cc and he set a 1000cc class record of 168.07 mph (270.476 km/h). The following year, 1967, after boring the engine out a further 30cc to make it 950cc, is when he set the 1000 cc class record of 184.087 mph (296.11 km/h). However, he was faster in qualifying, with one-way run of 190.07 mph (305.89 km/h). Burt once qualified at over 200 mph (320 km/h), but that was an unofficial run and was not counted.
“You live more for five minutes going fast on a bike than other people do in all their life.” – Burt Munro
He passed away in 1978, relatively unknown outside the world of motorcycling speedsters. He would never have expected the fame that followed almost 40 years after he passed away. His story has inspired many generations of motorcyclists since. Burt simply wanted to be fast and set world records to make his mark on the world. His story was immortalised in the 2006 film called ‘The World’s Fastest Indian’, starring Anthony Hopkins.
The Spirit of Munro Continues
Fifty years on from Burt’s record run, the Indian Motorcycle’ team returned to Bonneville in August 2017 with Burt’s first cousin’s grandson, Lee Munro. The aim was to pay tribute to Burt by having Lee Munro ride a modern-day Indian Scout that was sponsored and supported by Baume & Mercier.
Lee Munro and the team took the ‘Spirit of Munro Scout’ to California’s El Mirage Dry Lake to test, and while there ended up setting a new land speed record of 186.681 mph (300 km/h) in the Southern California Timing Association MPS-G (Modified Partial Streamliner) 1350cc class. At the 69th Bonneville Speed week in August 2017, Lee and the Indian team achieved 191mph (307.39 km/h), going beyond the 184mph set by Burt, and almost reaching the milestone figure of 200mph.
Author’s Biography: Melvyn Teillol-Foo (MTF)
Dr Melvyn Teillol-Foo is a contributor on AlphaLuxe web-zine.
He is also a moderator on PuristSPro.com horology discussion fora. He blends his scientific medical objectivity from the pharmaceutical industry with purist passion, in his musings about watches, travel, wine, food and other epicurean delights.
His travelogue ‘Lazing’ and feasting ‘Grazing’ series of articles have now passed into “mythic legend” on the original ‘ThePuristS.com’ website. Those were the halcyon days when he was “rich and famous” that he remembers with bittersweet fondness.
Dr Teillol-Foo is a quoted enthusiast on the watch industry, appearing in feature articles and interviews by Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Sunday Times (London), Chronos (Japan), Citizen Hedonist (France) and other publications. He has authored articles for magazines like International Watch (iW) – both U.S. & Chinese editions, ICON (Singapore), August Man (Singapore), Comfort (China) and The Watch (Hong Kong).