Bentley, now a century old brand, resonates among those who patronize fashion. The brand has gracefully expanded its presence across segments like footwear, eyewear, perfumes and a lot more than just world-class automobiles…
Born in 1888 as the youngest of nine siblings, Walter Owen Bentley – though he preferred to be called W.O. – founded the company that carries his name on 10 July 1919. Now, almost 100 years later, his name is known across the globe for creating cars with an unrivalled blend of performance and the finest craftsmanship and materials. But, Bentley’s legacy has now gone beyond cars. The class, the finesse, the craftsmanship and the Bentley spirit is wooing followers through an extensive range of products. This issue, we take a look at the legend called Bentley.
A Humble Start
Bentley was not born big. In fact, it was every bit the small start-up that grew in strength and popularity. All thanks to the relentless pursuit of luxury and performance. The foundation of this brand was laid on W.O. Bentley’s love for motion. As a young man, Walter was very passionate about trains / locomotives. He even dropped out of school at 16, to pursue his dream. Soon after finishing school, Walter took up an apprenticeship with the Great Northern Railway, eventually achieving his childhood dream of working on the footplate of a steam locomotive, hurling coal into the firebox to keep the steam pressure up. This lasted for five years but at the end of it, Walter’s passion had moved to the road. Yes! This was where the love for automobiles made its way to his heart.
Young Walter was fond of racing. After his stint at the railways, he purchased 29 VISION an expensive motorcycle and participated in many races. As luck would have it, Walter won many of them. Before he knew it, he was a popular racer. In fact, his participation in the London-Edinburgh race has an interesting incident associated to it. Although Walter’s bike broke down just outside of Edinburgh, he managed to repair it and not just complete the race but qualify for the gold medal as well. Clearly, Walter had mastered the engines and this was going to be the game changer for him even later in life. Modifying engines to extract more power out of them was becoming a hobby for Walter. In fact, his modifications to a Speed model Rex so successful they were taken up by the official Rex team.
The Four-Wheel Drive
Walter’s engineering skills became even more pivotal when he went into business with one of his brothers in 1912, importing French cars made by Doriot, Flandrin & Parant. It was during this stint that Walter discovered the ability of aluminium to be used as the material for pistons. He believed that aluminium pistons could be a better choice than the ones made of steel or cast iron. He experimented and even added strength to the metal to stop it from melting at high temperatures. And so a new alloy was developed settling on a formula of 88% aluminium and 12% copper. The new pistons were lighter and better making the engine work faster. Walter had hit jackpot.
He used his expertise to develop war planes as well during the first world war. It was his way of serving the country and it was recognised as well. Walter received a cash reward for his work during the war and used it to fund his dream of building Bentley Motors. Walter had the expertise and the funding only motivated him to work faster. As a result, Bentley reached new heights under his guidance. His final work of art was the 6.0 Litre engine with silent yet powerful torque. Since the engine was invented just before the war broke out, Bentley did not make many pieces. But the engine did make its mark and went on to establish Bentley’s supremacy in the market.
Not Just Motors
The idea to encapsulate the spirit of Bentley beyond automobiles only proved to be a worthy gamble. The brand partnered with leading designers, perfume makers, eyewear manufacturers and others to develop an entire range of luxury productsWith this Bentley found loyal fan followers in the fashion segment as well. People who love the exuberance and exquisiteness that the brand stands for came forward in big numbers to showcase their support in big numbers. This love continues till date as people look forward to the latest offerings by Bentley.
Here Comes Bentley Eyewear
The Bentley Eyewear collection reflects the epitome of luxury eyewear. As precious as a Bentley itself, each piece is skillfully handcrafted to order and represents the perfect choice for drivers who are every bit as exacting about their eyewear as they are their cars. Designed in close collaboration with the Bentley design team, the eyewear styles are easy to wear, informal and contemporary. The perfect match for the exclusive range of Bentley cars. In 2010 Bentley Motors & Estede started their collaboration via a limited edition series of solid gold sunglasses and ophthalmic frames. The partnership drew upon Estede’s extensive experience in creating high end eyewear, fused with the sophisticated design language of the famed British car marque. And it proved a worldwide success. These initial pieces reflect timeless yet modern styles, available in either 18 kt solid gold or platinum, and express the epitome of luxury eyewear.
The characteristic Bentley “B” set in hand polished enamel coating, together with carefully engraved surfaces reflecting Bentley’s sumptuous leather quilting, are some of the characteristics presented in the first collection. Only the finest lenses are incorporated into Bentley sunglasses, offering 100% UV protection and reflect the latest in lens technology and state of the art coatings. All frames and sunglasses are made to order, individually numbered and strictly limited to only 100 pieces per colour variation. The products come with exclusive packaging, and the eyewear case is exquisitely designed to fit perfectly into the Bentley Mulsanne. Easy to wear, simple and informal, these pieces are equally a remarkable expression of bespoke craftsmanship and technical expertise, forged from the most precious and rare materials. It is this extraordinary ability to create stunningly individual accessories that truly elevates Estede and Bentley eyewear to a unique dimension.