Automotive watch partnerships that stood the test of time

26th October 2022

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The worlds of horology and automotive have always been intrinsically intertwined, sharing a unique bond between the pinnacle of performance and measuring said performance to the nearest millisecond, giving rise to a natural symbiosis.

 

Exquisite examples of both watches and cars are considered to be the epitome of elegance and beauty by their admirers and both, if found in a desirable vintage, can fetch a hefty price if the right buyer is involved. 

 

But why have been the most prominent influences on this relationship and what are the most noteworthy brand associations that transcend both of these industries?

 

To understand the link, we must wind the clocks back to the early 20th century. This was a time of unprecedented development for the car and watches, owing in part to the first and second world wars which placed greater demands on the practicalities of mobility and timekeeping, thus turbo-charging technological advancement.

 

Naturally, the next step in this evolution was motorsport. In hindsight, it’s the obvious platform for watches and cars to collide. The aim of the game is to achieve the shortest race time possible drawing on the timekeeping aspect whilst the glitz and glamour of organised motor racing’s early days was the perfect arena in which to market the latest technologically advanced fashion accessories. 

 

The chronograph – something which enabled the user to measure elapsed time – was one of the key innovations to originate from this period, giving rise to many of the iconic pieces that are still revered and in circulation amongst collectors today. 

 

Ferrari and Hublot 

 

The Ferrari-Hublot partnership is one obsessed with innovative, boundary-pushing projects. Most prominent of these concepts would be the Hublot MP-05 “LaFerrari” which was created to accompany its hypercar namesake. Interestingly there were actually fewer watches created than there were cars. The Italian marque was actively involved in the design process for several of these distinctive pieces including the Techframe Ferrari Tourbillon Chronograph to celebrate its 70th anniversary in 2017. 

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Daytona International Speedway and Rolex

 

Undoubtedly this is one of the seminal motorsport/automotive watch collaborations. Rolex became official timekeeper for the Daytona International Speedway in 1962, just three years after it opened. Hollywood actor come racing driver Paul Newman’s affiliation with the brand was well documented and he was often spied sporting his own Rolex Daytona, a watch which later sold for $5,475,000 at auction in 2020. 

 

Blancpain GT Series and Blancpain

 

Blancpain is a name that, over the last decade, has gradually become a name entirely synonymous with the pinnacle of modern GT racing. Having co-founded the Blancpain GT Series (comprising the ultra-competitive Endurance and Sprint Series) as well as having fingers in several other pies such as a high-profile association with the British GT Championship, Blancpain has fully integrated itself within the motorsport arena, whilst the prestige that comes as part and parcel of that industry has only bolstered values of their timekeeping products. 

 

Bentley Mulliner and Breitling

 

The accolade for longest-standing partnership between a car manufacturer and a watchmaker goes to Bently and Breitling. Not only does this pairing boast satisfying alliteration, but they each represent a true sense of luxury in their respective industries. Breitling boasted an impressive résumé of creating dashboard clocks for planes as well as cars, so in 2003, Bentley tasked them with producing the onboard clock for the very first Continental GT. And the rest is history!

 

Jaguar and Bremont

 

As traditional as they come on all fronts, together, Jaguar and Bremont epitomise English sophistication so a partnership between the two was completely seamless. Several car-inspired collections and individual watches have come from the collaboration, not least of which is the E-Type-inspired Jaguar collection and the 2019 D-Type limited edition receiving input from Jaguar design director Ian Callum.

 

McLaren and Richard Mille

 

Similarly to Hublot's partnership with Ferrari, McLaren and Richard Mille began a long-term collaboration in 2016 that focuses on ultra-lightweight watches with unique, contemporary designs. Born from each brand’s passion for innovation, Richard Mille worked together with McLaren’s renowned F1 team to create the lightest mechanical chronograph to date in the shape of the RM 50-03. 

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