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Four wheels on my watch
Trend Forecaster

Four wheels on my watch

Monday, 11 September 2017
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Christophe Roulet
Editor-in-chief, HH Journal

“The desire to learn is the key to understanding.”

“Thirty years in journalism are a powerful stimulant for curiosity”.

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2 min read

Whether trackside, in the paddock or on drivers’ wrists, the partnership between watch brands and motor racing is at full throttle.

Paul Newman’s Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona up for grabs at Phillips New York in October; Formula E’s third season racing to a close in Montreal, sponsored by TAG Heuer as it prepares to reveal a new limited edition of its legendary Monaco Gulf; a partnership between Roger Dubuis and Lamborghini lined up for this autumn; a collector’s edition of the Chronoris launched in August for the 40th anniversary of the Williams Formula 1 team, which includes Oris; intrepid women drivers racing classic cars and Richard Mille watches through the French countryside for the 18th Rallye des Princesses this summer… there’s plenty to keep the watchmaking-automotive duo – and these are just some of a long list of examples – in the news all year round.

Richard Mille RM 50-03
Richard Mille RM 50-03

Whereas once brands were content to slap an automaker’s logo on the dial of an existing model, today’s partnerships have real substance. Watchmakers are increasingly present trackside as official timekeeper, an activity that demands substantial financial and technical investment. Think Rolex and Formula 1 since 2013, TAG Heuer and Formula E since 2014, or Chopard and the Mille Miglia classic car rally since… 1988. Design has also benefited from the car/watch tandem. Baume & Mercier paired with Carroll Shelby, of Shelby Cobra fame, for a range referencing the famous sports car. Bovet and Pininfarina are teammates on a joint collection, while Hublot brought the Ferrari Design Centre onboard to imagine the “chassis” of its latest Techframe watch. We’re even witnessing crossovers in construction, as some of the avant-garde materials used in motor sports make their way onto our wrists. Richard Mille springs to mind – its RM 50-03 was jointly developed with McLaren R&D. Then there’s Breitling and its Bentley Carbon Body, not to mention Parmigiani and its Bugatti watches with their engine-block movements.

Bovet Ottantasei - Pininfarina Collection
Bovet Ottantasei - Pininfarina Collection

This leaves the pulling power of history, and the current craze for anything that references the heyday of authentic watchmaking – when the Omega Speedmaster was putting in its first laps as a watch for racing drivers, as were Heuer’s Autavia, the Zenith El Primero Chronomaster or the Rolex Daytona. Rugged chronographs, engineers’ timepieces, tool watches, these are the real deal. Who cares if some of these cars pulled in for their final pitstop many years ago, their horological counterparts continue to convey the excitement of an era, and the thrill of speed…

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