Haute wheels

Lux­ury me­chan­i­cal watches hit the road—hard.

Esquire (Singapore) - - Style -

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.

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