Watches and exceptional cars: 2016 new pieces part 1
There will be something for every taste and budget. 2016 has been and will continue to be rich in new car-inspired watches. A spotlight on some of the pieces dedicated to the world of this inspirational partnership.
Whether you prefer vintage reinterpretations or concept watches, forged carbon or Hermès leather, historical races or F1 championship, you will not be disappointed. Note to gentlemen drivers who are fans of appealing watches: if the beginning of this year is anything to go by, the rest promises to be exceptional.
Technical timepieces for aficionados of high-level competition
For over a century, watches and cars have forged indestructible bonds. Today, partnerships between watchmaking and the car industry are increasing dramatically.
And whilst they’re at it, they do not only invest in mechanical sports but indulge in the temptation to use the same high tech materials that are used in racing cars. Indeed, not only do said materials guarantee robustness, lightness and durability, but also aficionados will appreciate wearing a watch made of the same materials used for a Formula 1 car or a supercar.
This year, Bell & Ross took the initiative and joined top-class car racing by becoming the official watchmaking partner of the returning Renault Sport Formula One Team. The brand introduced its first two watches with the team's colors at the China Grand Prix – the BR-X1 RS16 and BR-X1 RS16 Tourbillon chronographs have been produced in limited editions of 250 and 20 pieces respectively. In perfect harmony with their environment, they reveal their Formula 1-inspired square-shaped 45-mm forged carbon, grade 5 titanium and ceramic case. The bezel, the rocker push buttons, the rubber grip and the black woven rubber strap are of the same yellow as the two RS16 cars. Indications are displayed on a bicompax dial with grey-tinted sapphire glass that reveals the self-winding BR-CAL.313 caliber (or the hand-wound BR-C283 caliber for the flying tourbillon version).
The aluminium-encircled small second and 30-minute timers in the tourbillon version evoke a tachometer. As a distinctive feature of both limited editions, it is worth mentioning that they can only be purchased at Grand Prix races.
Oris, watch partner of the Williams team since 2003, has now introduced its first technical watches equipped with an exclusive carbon fiber dial – the Oris Williams Chronograph Carbon Fibre Extreme and the Oris Williams Valtteri Bottas Limited Edition. The same process that the British team uses to create the hulls of its cars has been applied to the 44-mm multi-piece case. As a result, the hand-made cases are five times lighter and more resistant than steel cases. The rest of the elements – caseback, bezel, crown and push buttons – have been manufactured in black DLC-treated titanium. The tricompax dial uses the same high tech materials; i.e. black DLC-treated titanium for the Chronograph Carbon Fibre Extreme and carbon fibre for the Valtteri Bottas Limited Edition. Touches of blue evoke the Williams team's colors. The same self-winding caliber Oris 674, based on the ETA 7750 has been used for both editions. The piece that bears the name of the young Finnish driver is limited to 770 pieces.
In its collection dedicated to motorsports, Oris has introduced two skeletonized watches that reveal their caliber completely. The Williams Engine Date and the Artix Skeleton are "3-hand" pieces that offer a different approach to skeletonization. The dial of the Williams has two parts – an openworked centre that reveals the Oris 733 caliber and an exterior part that features the hour numerals as well as the indexes. The dial of the Artix offers a view of the skeletonized Oris 734 movement and reveals its inner mechanics, including the black galvanized bridges and the barrel.
Breitling has been the watch partner of the British car manufacturer Bentley since 2003. This year, the brand has added to the “Breitling for Bentley” some very trendy full-black versions of its iconic models, thus giving them a radically sporty look. For the record, the manufacturer of prestigious sedans and coupés made his name in car racing by winning the "24 Hours of Le Mans" five times. The 44mm carbon fiber case of the Bentley GMT B04 S Carbon Body chronograph, limited to 250 pieces, is quite distinctive. Indeed, this material is frequently used in car racing owing to its lightness and its extreme shock-resistance.
The piece is crowned by the traditional bezel with a knurled relief which evokes the radiator grills of the prestigious Continental WP and Mulsanne. The tricompax dial is also made of carbon with a visible fiber braid. The second time zone is indicated on the turning pinion bezel which includes all 24 time zones.
The brand has revealed another watch for the busy traveller – the Breitling B05 Unitime Midnight Carbon chronograph, limited to 500 pieces, whose large 49-mm case is very striking. It is made in DLC-treated carbon steel with a satiny finish and it comes with a new sporty matt crocodile strap with rubber lining. The Royal Ebony black tricompax dial features 1/8th of a second and world time chronograph functions. The latter is easily readable thanks to its 24-hour disc and a second disc inscribed with the names of the cities representing the 24 time zones. The two chronographs are driven by the in-house COSC-certified self-winding calibers B04 and B05, equipped with a power reserve of over 70 hours.
Chopard has been the "Official Timing Partner" and official timer of Porsche Motorsport since 2014. Hence, the brand celebrated the victory of the German team at the 2015 world endurance championship (and its double victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans) with a commemorative edition of its chronograph dedicated to the Porsche 919 prototype that competes in the LMP1 category. The Chopard Superfast Porsche Motorsport 919 limited victory edition is available in only 17 pieces, one for each time Porsche has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This "collector version” which features the same aesthetic codes as the two previous editions, is characterized by its gold bezel engraved with a tachometer scale.
Through its active partnership with the famous Italian race "Mille Miglia", of which it has been the official timer since 1988, Chopard is also quite involved in historical races. The brand has created a specific collection of sporty watches to which it has recently added a "full black" version of the Mille Miglia GTS Automatic nicknamed "Speed Black". Its 43mm black DLC-treated steel case is crowned by a thin black aluminum bezel circled in red. The screwed caseback with tinted crystal offers a view of the openwork oscillating mass and the striped bridges that remind us of engine air intakes.
The black matt dial is enhanced by sporty touches in "Rosso Corsa", the traditional color of Italian racing cars in the early 20th century. The piece has been produced in a limited edition of 1,000 pieces equipped with the COSC-certified in-house self-winding Chopard 01.01-M caliber, which features a 60-hour power reserve.
The independent brand Cvstos, has chosen motorbike racing as its sport and has reiterated its partnership with Spanish driver Dani Pedrosa this year. The Challenge Dani Pedrosa Carbon chronograph, limited to 100 pieces, stands out thanks to its astonishing tonneau-shaped case (53.70mm X 41mm), a combination of forged carbon and orange fiberglass. Each detail evokes Dani Pedrosa's bike: the orange color, the brake disc-shaped timers, the push buttons that remind us of brake handles and the clutch, and the fuel gauge-shape power reserve indicator. The three-dimensional skeletonized dial features the small blue Samurai that features on the driver’s helmet. The watch is driven by a self-winding Cvstos 577 movement whose 88-titanium black PVD-treated rotor and orange-lacquered tungsten evokes a motor bike wheel and ensures a 48-hour power reserve.
French manufacture B.R.M, famous for its mechanical sport-inspired watches with atypical decorations and mechanical-piece shaped components, has presented the ART CAR collection. ART CAR pays tribute to famous racing cars painted by the greatest pop-art artists from the 1970s and 1980s. The brand has introduced four iconic pieces – two chronographs, the V12-44 and the T12-44, and two "3-hand" V7-38 watches – in different color versions of 100 pieces each. They all sport a painted dial and color effects on the push buttons as well as leather "racing" straps with perforations and topstitching. Undoubtedly, a bright way to add color to your life.
To be followed on Watchonista.com, part 2, part 3 & part 4
Front picture: Chopard Superfast Porsche Motorsport 919 Black Edition (picture credits: chopard.com)
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