Richard S. Cunanan

Old-School Tough

Baume & Mercier is partnering up with Indian Motorcycles to pay homage to speed demon Burt Munro.

“You live more for five minutes going fast on a bike than other people do in all their life.”—Burt Monro

Baume & Mercier is partnering up with Indian Motorcycles to pay homage to speed demon Burt Munro, who seems to have invented the long-term slow-burn speed record. Burt Munro took a motorcycle from 55 to 184 mph in 40 years. And if that’s not a speed record, I don’t know what is.

Baume & Mercier is starting up a beautiful friendship with Indian motorcycles. We hope it lasts a long time, but we are sure it’ll go fast. Ironically, this is a perfect description of the man they are paying tribute to with their first collaboration.

As a beginning move in this team-up, Baume & Mercier is releasing the Clifton Club Burt Munro Tribute Limited Edition. This is a 1967-piece chronograph model watch that honors this motorcycle racing legend, and serves as a starting point for this match-up.

Burt Munro and Indian Motorcycles are a pretty good match up of their own, actually. Indian Motorcycles is a famous brand, as they were one of the first companies that started putting engines on bicycles. They quickly became known for setting speed records.

Burt Munro bought an Indian Motorcycle in 1926. It had a top speed of 55 mph. That wasn’t enough for Burt, though, and he took to tinkering with it. In fact, Burt Munro spent the next forty years on that same motorcycle, fiddling with it and rebuilding it. He used basic tools and engine parts that he built himself from scrap metal. (Yes, that IS hardcore. And it gets better. Keep reading.)

In 1967, Burt Munro took the motorcycle that he’d been working on for literally four decades to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. And this 68-year old grandfather set a speed record for under 1000cc. The cycle that had originally had a top speed of 55mph, pre-Burt, set a time record of 183.59 mph. (47 years later, Burt’s son John noticed that the calculation on the certificate was inaccurate, and had it recertified, correctly, to 184.087 mph. That speed record, by the way, still stands today.) Burt Munro took a motorcycle from 55 to 184 mph in 40 years. And if that’s not a speed record, I don’t know what is.

The Clifton Club Burt Munro Tribute Limited Edition is an automatic chronograph built on the brand’s Clifton Club line. The watch is an automatic chronograph, particularly apt since it pays tribute to a man who set timing records. And the watch carries a lot of reminders of that man, and of Indian motorcyles.

One thing you’re sure to notice is the large yellow circle on the dial with the ‘35’ on it. That was Burt’s lucky number, and it serves here as the backdrop for the seconds counter at 9 o’clock. Another striking color is seen on the calfskin leather strap: the “Indian Red” color is closely associated with the Indian Motorcycle Company and with the Munro Special. The watch dial is silver-colored, with sandblasted and snailed finishes, and it is meant to represent the surface of the Bonneville Salt Flats, where Burt Munro set his record. The red chronograph seconds counter has a counterbalance in the shape if the Indian Motorcycles’ distinctive “I.” The stainless steel case has  a tachymeter scale on the bezel, and the number 184 is highlighted upon it. This marks Burt Munro’s 184 mph speed record. Finally, on the case back, the memorable Indian Headdress logo of the Indian Motorcycle Company is engraved. The number of limited-edition watches, 1967, recalls the year that Burt Munro set his speed record.

So if you ever feel that your need for speed is taking a long time to get going, take inspiration from Burt Munro, Indian Motorcycles, and Baume & Mercier.