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Watches and wheels
Lifestyle

Watches and wheels

Wednesday, 23 June 2021
By Marie de Pimodan
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Marie de Pimodan

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6 min read

Love is in the air between watchmakers and carmakers, although breakups and makeups mean partnerships can resemble a game of musical chairs. We take a look at the latest mechanically-inspired collaborations.

Much like football’s richest clubs vie for the best players, the big-name luxury watch brands go all out to secure a deal with the most prestigious automakers. And, as in football, transfers aren’t rare! After a stint with Jaeger-LeCoultre then TAG Heuer, Aston Martin has tied the knot with Girard-Perregaux. Five years ago, McLaren signed on the dotted line with Richard Mille, after a bromance with TAG Heuer, which earlier in the year began a new partnership with Porsche. When Hublot and Ferrari announced their breakup in January, there were plenty of new suitors for the prancing horse. Richard Mille (again!) came out on top, and wasted no time in announcing an upcoming collection that would be designed in close collaboration with Ferrari’s engineers. Whether built for speed or more opulent, here are the latest watches to come out of a saga that has more twists and turns than a racing circuit!

Bovet inside a Rolls-Royce

No dream is too great. Certainly not for Rolls-Royce and Bovet: to satisfy a collector as enamoured with one as with the other, the luxury carmaker joined the watchmaker from Fleurier in creating a custom-built Boat Tail whose fascia is mounted with two mechanical tourbillon watches. Thanks to the Amadeo case construction, they can be removed and worn as a wristwatch, a pocket watch, a pendant watch, or set on a desk. Bovet’s craftsmen invested considerable time in these unprecedented creations. It’s estimated that the two watches took 3,000 hours to develop and execute, encompassing the design, engineering, sculpting, miniature painting, marquetry and the purpose-made movements and cases.

The fascia of this Rolls-Royce Boat Tail is mounted with two Bovet timepieces, fully personalised for the client.
The fascia of this Rolls-Royce Boat Tail is mounted with two Bovet timepieces, fully personalised for the client.
Breitling and Bentley, best friends forever

As the two companies prepare to mark the twentieth anniversary of their partnership in 2022, Breitling is already celebrating their shared values – defined by CEO Georges Kern as “quality, performance and design excellence” – with the Premier B21 Chronograph Tourbillon 42 Bentley Limited Edition. Recognisable by a 42mm case in red gold that is water-resistant to 100 metres, it sports rectangular chronograph pushers and an original British Racing Green dial. Only 25 will be made, driven by the COSC-certified, in-house calibre B21 that provides approximately 55 hours of power reserve.

Premier B21 Chronograph Tourbillon 42 Bentley Limited Edition © Breitling
Premier B21 Chronograph Tourbillon 42 Bentley Limited Edition © Breitling
Girard-Perregaux on the road with Aston Martin

After riding shotgun with Jager-LeCoultre and TAG Heuer, British automaker Aston Martin has a new Official Watch Partner since February in Girard-Perregaux. The first timepiece to come out of this collaboration is the Tourbillon with Three Flying Bridges – Aston Martin Edition. An 18-piece limited edition, it offers a contemporary take on Girard-Perregaux’s iconic, nineteenth-century pocket watch. Transparency and precision are de rigueur inside the 44mm titanium case, with sapphire crystal panes front and back that allow light to pass through the mechanism. An airy aesthetic for a pure design object.

Tourbillon with Three Flying Bridges – Aston Martin Edition © Girard-Perregaux
Tourbillon with Three Flying Bridges – Aston Martin Edition © Girard-Perregaux
IWC and Mercedes-AMG, performance meets design

It’s been seventeen years since IWC and Mercedes-AMG hit the road together… an anniversary the Schaffhausen watchmaker is celebrating by introducing the first timepiece created with its automotive partner in the regular collection. The “engine” inside the 43mm titanium case of this Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “AMG” (ref. IW377903) is IWC’s in-house 69385 calibre. On the outside, the matte grey finish plays off AMG’s signature Selenite Grey Magno paint. As for the dial, it features woven carbon fibre that is directly derived from AMG’s aero components.

Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “AMG” (ref. IW377903) © IWC
Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “AMG” (ref. IW377903) © IWC
Rebellion, the Tour Auto 2021 official partner

That Rebellion watches are like racing machines for the wrist is to be expected, coming from a brand that has its own privateer team competing in the Le Mans Prototype 1 category. Confirming its reputation for speed, it hits the road this year as the official timekeeper of the Tour Auto 2021 rally from Paris to Nice in five stages and 1,930 kilometres. Rebellion is releasing a 20-piece limited-edition Twenty-One Three Hands Tour Auto especially for the event. Keeping track of time under the red, white and blue dial is an automatic Swiss-made movement.

Twenty One Three Hands Tour Auto © Rebellion
Twenty One Three Hands Tour Auto © Rebellion
Richard Mille and McLaren, from hypercar to hyperwatch

This has to be the most ambitious collaboration ever from Richard Mille and McLaren, whose partnership is now in its fifth year. The RM 40-01 Automatic Tourbillon McLaren Speedtail (a 106-piece limited edition) takes its droplet form, the most aerodynamic in nature, from the Speedtail hypercar, the third in McLaren’s Ultimate Series. “Bezel indentations reference the bonnet openings on the Speedtail, while pushers recall the air outlets behind the front wheels,” says Julien Boillat, technical director at Richard Mille, whose teams spent 2,800 hours perfecting the lines of the case in titanium and Carbon TPT®. The watch’s high-performance engine, something else it has in common with the Speedtail, has given engineers more opportunity to multiply references to the McLaren hypercar.

RM 40-01 Automatic Tourbillon McLaren Speedtail © Richard Mille
RM 40-01 Automatic Tourbillon McLaren Speedtail © Richard Mille
Roger Dubuis on the starting grid with Pirelli

The latest watch to emerge from Roger Dubuis’ ongoing partnership with tyre specialist Pirelli is the Excalibur Spider Pirelli. Cut from black DLC-coated titanium in a 39mm diameter, it is powered by the brand’s signature skeleton flying tourbillon movement: a high-octane engine for this 28-piece limited edition that hugs the wrist on a strap made with rubber from race-winning tyres. Printed on the inside is the profile of a Pirelli Cinturato intermediate tyre. For the shortest stop in the pits, a quick-release system means it can be changed without tools.

Excalibur Spider Pirelli © Roger Dubuis
Excalibur Spider Pirelli © Roger Dubuis
TAG Heuer and Porsche, loving the Carrera

Icons of performance and innovation, TAG Heuer and Porsche have a lot in common… including the Carrera: a watch for one, a car for the other. Pole position for this new strategic partnership is the TAG Heuer Carrera Porsche Chronograph. Fans of the German automaker are sure to spot the Porsche name inscribed on the bezel, the numerals font which is the same as on the counters in a Porsche sports car, the use of Porsche’s red, black and grey racing colours, and the shape of the oscillating weight, designed to look like a Porsche steering wheel. This special-edition Carrera is race-ready thanks to the in-house Heuer 02 calibre that beats under the asphalt-effect dial.

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