For more than a century and a half, the world of cars and the world of watchmaking have shaken in unison. Crossroads was never surprising, given the close relationships and knowledge of these two worlds. Even today, cooperation between manufacturers and lovers of precision mechanics is flourishing, playing on sports flair, technology and luxury. A tradition rooted in the collective imagination that can be traced back to the eighteenth centurye century, at a time when watchmakers were making so-called “calèche” watches, which prevented a small marquis from arriving late for their appointments. A link that has been drawn more precisely over the years: since the creation of the first cars, a dashboard clock, introduced in particular by Jaeger-LeCoultre since the beginning of the 20th century, adorns the dashboard.e century. Since then, the partnerships have followed each other, with profitable forms of collaboration that have been particularly marked over the past few months.
Illustration for example with the Richard Mille RM UP-01, in collaboration with Maranello’s star manufacturer, Ferrari. A watch that closes the partnership between the watchmaker and the scuderia italia while presenting itself to the passage of the most coveted records, the world’s thinnest watch: 1.75 mm thick or nearly two credit cards. Inside this slim center beats a mechanical caliber of 1.18 mm and a weight of 2.82 g. From the assembly of the movement and the case the rigidity of the whole is born, each guaranteeing the rigidity of the other. In terms of performance, “the watch meets the same high standards as all of our other models,” says Salvador Arbona, Director of Movements at Richard Mille. More than just a ‘concept watch’, the 150-piece limited edition model also aims to promote technical exchanges between the two councils, both in the choice of materials and design.
Since these partnerships are also centered around new goals: if the association between two prestigious brands is clearly important, technology transfer has also become very popular. We no longer count materials from racing cars that can be found in the design of watch cases or movement components. Some houses go so far as to make rubber belts out of Pirelli racing tires, like Roger Dubuis, or designed discs out of an Aston Martin DB5 aluminum hood, like the Jalaper Workshop. Because in both worlds, the search for materials that combine hardness and lightness is essential. Especially in fine watchmaking where infinitesimally small must also be very solid.
Sometimes this collaboration is born out of thin air, like the TAG Heuer watches resulting from the partnership with Porsche. It must be said that the two brands share a common history and especially the legendary name of Carrera. Three productions expected have already been revealed, with a special chronograph release in February 2021, a limited sports series – Carrera x Porsche – produced in 1,500 copies in March 2022 and until recently the arrival of a connected model range with E4 caliber. Here, the watch communicates with the car by giving its owner valuable indicators such as range, battery level or chassis condition. And even allowing the internal temperature to be controlled. The ceramic bezel is inspired by the dashboard counter, with information such as heart rate, daily steps and calories displayed in percentage.
The aesthetic component is, of course, not forgotten: on all three models we clearly find the logo of the German manufacturer and a leather strap that accommodates the saddle stitching of sports cars. The same visual wink at Team Bell & Ross and Alpine F1: every year, the factory actually introduces a new watch inspired by the team’s single seat. The latest is called the A522, a reference to the name of the current Formula 1 at the race. Designed like a speedometer, the device incorporates an automatic caliber, takes on the team’s color identity and features the iconic “A” of the Alpine logo on the blue off-balance seconds hand. However, Bell & Ross retains the spirit that made its success: a square case and round dial so conspicuous.
Other references from the automotive world also testify to the enthusiasm of enthusiasts. Such is the case with Rolex’s popular – and much sought after – Cosmograph Daytona, named after a famous American race, or with the Reservoir Kanister, a retrograde minute watch with jumping hours and power-reserve indicator inspired by the famous Porsche 356 Speedster. A recent commercial success now requires collectors to register online on the waiting list.
From F1 to old racing
Reconciling the symbols of the two houses, while emphasizing their respective heritage, is also the challenge of these partnerships that are certainly expressed on the wrist, but also on the asphalt. In fact, historic car racing should not be outdone in the “car watch industry” realm. The most famous association is certainly the Chopard and Mille Miglia League, the legendary Italian event that connects Rome to Brescia every year. It must be said that Karl Friedrich Scheufele, Co-President of Chopard, is a collector of vintage cars and a noble driver. We better understand why the 2022 Edition is a racing chronograph whose accuracy has been certified by the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC).
Whoever says accuracy on the wheel also says instant readability, what’s more on the open road! In fact, the dial – with the 1000 Miglia logo on the left of the date – is very contrasting and the oversized hands are circled in bright blue reflecting the slender tachymeter bezel. On the visible side, the watch is fitted with a perforated leather strap that retains the collection’s signature on the back: the rubber bust of a 1960s Dunlop Racing tire. However, manufacturers and watchmakers are always one step ahead, with this question surely for the future: What if the advent of electric cars finally gave connected watches their credentials?
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