This week sees the commencement of collector car auctions, in Scottsdale, Arizona. While a fan of classic cars, the most professional involvement I have with luxury automobiles is when watch and car companies collaborate on auto-inspired watches designed to boost the reach and reputation of both.
Creating a luxury item is hard enough; making it rare enough to attract interest while simultaneously making it expensive enough to cover the costs of creation is incredibly difficult. Tied inextricably to the concept of luxury, is the appearance of scarcity. That’s why non-competing companies that commonly pitch to the same demographic often buddy-up in an attempt to increase the sales potential of a concept without diluting the exclusivity of the items attached to it.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, after all, but how does that work when seriously big businesses want to get in bed with one another?
Crucially, the project must be mutually beneficial. Welcome to the world of auto-inspired watches…
Slow and Steady Doesn’t Always Win
Collaborations between the luxury automobile and luxury watch giants are often matches made in heaven. Both products are largely geared at men of a similar age and wealth; both products employ high-end engineering and the next-level detailing that sends the constituents of the target demographic weak at their already creaking knees; and both products are, by the nature of their production, incredibly exclusive.
Perhaps the one incongruity between the two industries is the speed at which the technology used in the best modern examples of each has developed. Mechanical watches predate automobiles by a century, and while early Breguet watches work in much the same way as their modern counterparts, a Bugatti Veyron is nothing like the motorized cart that trundled off the production line in the early 20th century.
Names Write Cheques
Bugatti is a name known around the world for excellent design, and is an ideal candidate for auto-inspired watches. Despite ceasing to exist after the death of the company’s founder in 1947, Bugatti, like so many watch companies, rose from the dead in the nineties and hit the ground running.
The class of Bugatti’s modern output echoed through the design world and piqued the interest of Parmigiani, who decided they’d like to create a Bugatti concept watch. This interest quickly morphed into an obsession: Parmigiani have gone on to create seven Bugatti-inspired watches, ranging from the conservative to the somewhat outlandish.
Parmigiani are not alone in this mutually beneficial endeavor: Think Breitling and Bentley, Hublot and Ferrari, and Zenith and Land Rover. There’s money to be made here, and a good opportunity for you to spend it! Of course, matching your wrist candy to your driveway diamond might cost you as much as a house, but who likes paying for heating anyway?
About the Author
Fell Jensen is a Swiss-trained watchmaker working as an industry analyst.