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During the mid-20th century, many watch brands were inspired by the aerodynamics of automobile racing. Today, the alliance continues.
By Roberta Naas | July 17 2020
Cars and wristwatches practically grew up together. Both were born at the turn of the 20th century and, during the mid-20th century, many watch brands were inspired by the aerodynamics of automobile racing and world racing records that were being set on the famed Bonneville Salt Flats.
Watchmakers sponsored racecar drivers and races around the world, and designed sports watches with exciting auto inspirations. Today, this alliance continues, with some brands taking those partnerships a step further by joining forces with automobile makers, often borrowing aerodynamic design strategies and high-tech materials to bring car-inspired watches to new heights.
British watch brand Bremont, which is close to opening a full-fledged, vertically-integrated watch manufacture in Henley-on-Thames, naturally would only join forces with a British automotive brand: Jaguar. Now, after several collaborations since 2014, the brand has created the Jaguar D-Type to honor Jaguar Classic’s reinstated production of the D-Type race car of the 1950s. The mechanical chronograph celebrates the golden era of motorsports with a vintage motif. The watch features a blue dial with a bi-compax chronograph and brushed nickel subdials. Red accents and a tachymeter outer dial ring complete the robust look of the 43mm chronometer. A sapphire crystal caseback allows for viewing of the rotor, which is shaped like the Jaguar steering wheel. The crown, topped with the Jaguar logo in enamel, is etched with the original Dunlop tire tread motif.
$7,295 in satin-finished stainless steel. Bremont in New York, +1 212 321 0012, bremont.com
For 17 years, Swiss watch brand Breitling has had a long and rich partnership with famed British marque Bentley. This year, the two take their focus to a new realm: the Bentley Mulliner. The Mulliner workshop has created tailor-made models for Bentley since 1959 and, this year, they pulled out all the stops with the Bentley Continental GT Mulliner Convertible — possibly the most luxurious GT to date — which features a Breitling clock in the dashboard. In honor of their collaboration, Breitling created a coordinated watch to mimic the dashboard clock. The 42mm timepiece with a silver dial and red and blue accents offers a central chronograph with the second hand in red and a tachymeter bezel. The COSC-certified chronometer is powered by the brand’s 346-part Caliber 01, which has 70 hours of power reserve.
$8,650 in stainless steel. Breitling in New York, +1 855 999 1884, breitling.com
Inspired by the Mille Miglia classic car rally that takes place along 1,000 miles of the most scenic routes in Italy (Chopard is the official timekeeper of the race), the Mille Miglia GTS Azzurro Power Control watch features a host of auto-inspired details. The stunning blue dial recalls vintage racing cars, the bright-red accents and hands are the official Mille Miglia red, and the date indication is framed by a direction arrow. The 60-hour power-reserve indicator resembles a car’s fuel gauge, and the case sides are grooved with a distinctive pattern that emulates an engine’s pistons. The 43mm watch is powered by an in-house, self-winding movement that is a COSC-certified chronometer. It is finished with a leather strap with perforations that recall driving gloves and steering wheel covers.
$9,990 in stainless steel and 18K rose gold. Chopard in New York, +1 800 246 7273, chopard.com
Passionate about performance and groundbreaking technology, Roger Dubuis is constantly breaking typical watch design rules and amping things up. For the past few years, the brand has partnered with Lamborghini Squadra Corse and Pirelli (the tire brand that equips Lamborghinis on the racetracks) to develop what it calls ‘raging mechanics.’ This bold 45mm Excalibur Huracán is powered by an in-house, 233-part, skeletonized self-winding movement. Its mainplate and bridges are shot-blasted with high-tech NAC coating. The oscillating weight is inspired by the rim of the supercar, and the upper portion of the movement features a strut bar that recalls those on the V10 engine of the Huracán car. Ultra-lightweight and scratch resistant, the watch is finished with an interchangeable rubber strap with Alcantara inlay.
$49,000 in titanium black DLC. Roger Dubuis in New York, +1 212 651 3773, rogerdubuis.com
This year marks a big one for both Zenith watches and Land Rover as their partnership continues. Land Rover relaunches its most emblematic all-terrain vehicle in history, the Defender, with a significant redesign and, to celebrate, Zenith has released the stealth Defy 21 Land Rover Edition chronograph. Powered by the brand’s legendary high-frequency El Primero movement (that measures time to 1/100th of a second), the watch — like the Defender — boasts a revamped look with a gray dial, reddish-orange accents and, for the first time ever, a linear power-reserve indicator. The certified chronometer offers 50 hours of power reserve and a central chronograph second hand, as well as hour and minute totalizers. The rubber strap is designed to emulate the Defender’s tire tread motif.
$13,600 in gray ceramic. Cellini in New York, +1 212 888 0505, zenith-watches.com
It was nine years ago that Hublot joined forces with Ferrari to create unique, high-performance watches. Speeding to the front of the line is the Hublot Ferrari GT that draws inspiration from Gran Turismo grand touring cars. Equipped with a 354-part, in-house skeletonized Unico movement, the 45mm watch boasts a column-wheel mechanism visible from the dial side. The self-winding flyback chronograph caliber holds four patents. While Hublot developed the movement, it worked closely with Ferrari designers who developed and crafted the case in keeping with the GT. The famed Prancing Horse logo is seen at 12 o’clock, and bright Ferrari-red accents add pops of color to the black and silver high-tech look. The straps are black rubber with Schedoni leather, the same leather used in historical Maranello race-car seats.
$27,300 in 3D carbon fiber. Hublot in New York, +1 646 582 9813, hublot.com
The third watch in a new partnership between Jacob & Co and Bugatti, this magnificent 3D piece is like wearing an engine. The manual-winding movement has an impressive 578 parts and offers a 16-cylinder engine inspired by the powerful Bugatti Chiron. Press a button and the cylinders and 16 pistons drive into action with a rotation of the pistons and crankshaft emulating the real engine. Adding more drama: two turbochargers that spin while the engine is moving. The complex movement features a 30-degree inclined one-minute tourbillon, a 60-hour power-reserve indicator and an Incabloc shock-protection system. This system is highly important to the movement, as the entire caliber is suspended within the case with four components (one in each corner) that resemble the Chiron’s shocks.
$280,000 in black titanium. Jacob & Co in New York, +1 212 719 5887, jacobandco.com