There can be no doubting the elective affinities between the automotive world and fine watchmaking, with the latest Geneva Motor Show providing many more examples of this ongoing love affair. Manufacture Royale, a young and elitist watch brand, announced its exclusive partnership with Wiesmann. The watchmaker is planning a limited edition of 25 pieces, designed by in-house creative talent Charles Grosbéty, to mark the 25th anniversary this year of the German luxury sports car manufacturer. A first prototype of the watch was unveiled to aficionados at the Show, prior to the official launch at Baselworld. Manufacture Royale’s founder Arnaud Favre recalled how the idea for the association came after he met Friedhelm Wiesmann, immediately sensing that the two men had much in common. The start of something big?
Exceptional feats of technique that reflect a vision and a passion for innovation that is common to the two.
These can indeed be lasting relationships when both partners take the same approach towards concept and manufacturing. Jaeger-LeCoultre and Aston Martin are a case in point. They signed an initial, three-year agreement in 2005 which has since been renewed to both partners’ satisfaction. Their successful collaboration has produced exceptional feats of technique that reflect a vision and a passion for innovation that is common to the two.
This year, Jaeger-LeCoultre Chief Executive Jérôme Lambert was in Geneva with Cédric Torres, who manages the Swiss market for the brand, to present the Amvox7. Admirers who crowded round Aston Martin’s stand could also take in this first vertically-triggered chronograph at leisure. In a clever design touch, the grid on the dial replicates the radiator grille on the Vanquish car which Aston Martin unveiled last June.
Formula 1 fever
TAG Heuer, another brand with strong tie-ins to the automotive world, made a major announcement at the Geneva event. Not only will the brand continue to supply the official timepiece for the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 team, the partnership has been extended to include McLaren Automotive, the division which manufactures GT road cars for the British marque.
In Geneva, Jean-Christophe Babin, Chief Executive of TAG Heuer, and Ron Dennis, Executive Chairman of the McLaren Group, were clearly on a wavelength. “We have shared a successful partnership lasting 28 years, during which time we have achieved world-beating success on the track,” commented Ron Dennis. “We share with TAG Heuer an ethos of inspirational design, exemplary quality, high performance and attention to detail, making us natural partners. We are about to enter an exciting new phase in our relationship.” TAG Heuer will back McLaren’s Young Driver Development Programme, a scheme to identify and support the most talented young drivers. For many years TAG Heuer has been instrumental in the rise of great F1 champions; in fact the Mexican driver Sergio Perez is joining Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button in the stable of ambassadors for the Swiss brand.
A shared adventure
Also present in Geneva, Hublot hosted a reception for around a hundred of its customers and fans, lured by champagne and the aura of Ferrari. “Since announcing our partnership in November 2011, we’ve already taken part in 230 projects with Ferrari worldwide. That’s a significant number,” Hublot declared. “We wanted this cocktail on the Ferrari stand to be an informal gathering, somewhere our clients and fans could get a closer look at these legendary cars, and see the three new editions of the Big Bang Ferrari for 2013.”
In conclusion, there are major strategic advantages to be gained from partnerships between fine watch brands and the world’s leading automakers. While the Geneva Motor Show may not be the first port of call for many watchmakers, others have understood the power of the event to highlight two forms of mechanical excellence. ■