Luxury mechanical watches hit the road—hard.
Whether it’s at Formula One, the Lamborghini Winter Accademia or the Bonneville salt flats in Utah, you can’t measure speed without time. This year, brands such as Richard Mille, Roger Dubuis and Baume & Mercier bring their worthiest timepieces to the racetrack.
Richard Mille is the de facto poster boy of auto-inspired timepieces thanks to such singular models as the RM 11 first endorsed by Felipe Massa, and now the RM 67-02 created for F1 driver Fernando Alonso and Sebastien Ogier, who represents M-Sport Ford in the World Rally Championship.
RM 67-02 is Richard Mille’s seventh in-house calibre and despite its ultralight construct may even survive being hit by a truck. Suffice it to say, if the watch is designed for the WRC, which is easily the toughest motorsport in the world, it will survive a fall from your coffee table to the parquet—maybe check the parquet.
CRMA7 is an automatic movement and it combines grade 5 titanium for the baseplate and bridges with white gold and carbon TPT for the variable geometry rotor. Used by Richard Mille in numerous models, carbon TPT originates from the competitive yachting world and was brought into haute horlogerie by this innovative watchmaker. It’s made when layers of extremely thin carbon filaments each measuring only 30 microns are woven together at 45-degree angles. This gives carbon TPT the woodgrain aesthetic that differentiates it from forged carbon or carbon fibre.
Also unique to Richard Mille are what the brand calls comfort straps, which are essentially an elastic ultralight nonslip band that is seamless and adheres perfectly to the contours of the wrist. All Richard Mille watches dedicated to professional athletes are paired with this strap.
Sub-zero temperatures aren’t anywhere near ideal for high-speed motor racing, but guess what? Lamborghini is doing it anyway, specifically, at the Lamborghini Winter Accademia in Livigno, Italy. Talk about an experience of a lifetime. This on-ice driving course that happens every February sees the entire fleet of Lamborghini supercars, including the record-breaking Huracan Performante, racing in low-grip conditions. Not alone, of course. Guests are guided by Lamborghini professional instructors.
And where Lamborghini goes, Roger Dubuis will not be far behind. Exclusively for the 2018 Lamborghini Winter Accademia, the Genevan manufacture launched an Excalibur Spider Pirelli model fully equipped to handle the ice: the Excalibur Spider Pirelli Sottozero.
Indeed, it’s all about performance with this extreme sports watch and Roger Dubuis combines the best of both partners in one audacious package. Sottozero is a nod to the legendary Pirelli Winter Sottozero tyres made with metal nails for maximum grip, so the watch comes with a strap that’s covered with dozens of titanium studs over the rubber inlays. On the reverse side there is a reproduction of the profile of a Pirelli Cinturato intermediate tyre. Even if that doesn’t really add much to the driving experience, it’s always nice to have a cool watch on the wrist.
The Excalibur Spider Pirelli Sottozero is an eight-watch limited edition, which means it’s intended for the most fervent watchmaking connoisseurs who are also racing enthusiasts. In this 2018 novelty, Roger Dubuis offers a white ceramic bezel with sky blue markings along with a titanium and sapphire crystal case.
Auto-racing has inspired everything within the dial from the multi-coloured power reserve indicator to the speedometer-like seconds counters. Perhaps only now you’ll realise there are two flying tourbillons rotating harmoniously and in unison, but that’s fine, because with Roger Dubuis there’s no such thing as too much pizzazz.
After a three-year collaboration with Ford Shelby, Baume & Mercier turned to automobiles of the two-wheel variety with a new partnership forged with the American motorcycle company, Indian Motorcycle. Its most popular model, Scout, inspired Baume & Mercier to create a special-edition Clifton Chronograph that pays tribute to the achievements of motor-racing legend Burt Munro.
Munro was a motorcycle racer from New Zealand famous for setting the world record for an under-1,000cc motorcycle. He had raced at the Bonneville salt flats in Utah in 1967, riding a 47-year-old Indian Scout motorcycle from the 1920s—heavily modified of course. Munro did all the modifying himself using parts he’d made using old materials; he often worked overnight in order to create the bike that eventually came to be named the Munro Special. Most impressively, when he broke the world record in Utah, he was 68.
In the Clifton Club Burt Munro Tribute Limited Edition, the number 35 is prominently displayed. Munro’s lucky number, it was also printed on the body of his motorcycle at all his races. Baume & Mercier had also found much inspiration from the structure of historical and contemporary Indian motorcycles—the Indian red colour of the calfskin strap comes from the deep vermillion hue so emblematic of the motorcycle company.
Says design director of Baume & Mercier, Alexandre Peraldi: “We worked with the most famous model in the new collection of Indian Motorcycles, the Scout. With the motorcycle’s livery, we establish the codes of the watch. We have the I of the Indian logo at the end of the seconds hand and for the strap we worked with the famous Horween leathermaker in the US. They make the seats for Indian. I love the opportunity to work with straps like these. There are such natural colours and you obtain a patina over time.”
The strap as Peraldi says is minimally treated, with a natural colour tint and simple vintage-style stitching. Likewise, the dial is a simple silver one, but it also has a grainy texture that adds that much more character to the watch. Peraldi has definitely nailed it with the design.