The fascination for fine mechanics unites fans of sophisticated watches and luxurious cars – and even if, in rare cases, one is only interested in one of the two topics. Both car and watch manufacturers seem to be aware of this mutual appeal – as is the case with the Swiss watch manufacturer Breitling and the British carmaker Bentley, who have maintained a partnership now for almost two decades. This has resulted in large, heavy and precious timepieces that not only exude the charm of powerful British luxury automobiles, but even bear their names. But Breitling is far from the only luxury watchmaker to have teamed up with an automaker. Such collaborations between watch and car companies are by no means new, so we started to wonder: what kind of automobile a Rolex would be like if watches were cars?
If luxury watches were cars
Icons in their own right: The Submariner and the Porsche 911Let's begin with a watch so popular that almost everyone is familiar with it: the Submariner series by Rolex. For many, these wristwatches are the archetype of a luxury watch – and for good reason. In the major cities of the world, they are likely more common than any other model from the Swiss brand with the crown. Why is that? It might be the sporty design, the impressive quality, or the list price, which is quite affordable for a Rolex. But one reason is definitely the versatility of the Submariner. It may be a diving watch, but it cuts a good a figure in the office, on the red carpet, as well as 300 metres under the sea. So what kind of car would the Submariner be?
ROLEX SUBMARINER 116610LN
But once explained, the answer is fairly obvious. If the Submariner didn't have an automatic movement, but rather an automatic transmission and instead of an oscillating weight, a turbocharged eight-cylinder engine, then this would definitely be located in the rear. This is because if the Submariner were a car, it would definitely be a Porsche 911. Just like the Rolex, the silhouette of the Porsche is the epitome of a status symbol and is amazingly common on the road. Furthermore, what the Rolex Submariner and Porsche 911 have in common is that both car and watch were originally designed for a professional purpose – the 911 for the racetrack and the Submariner for diving. However, the majority of this iconic sports car's models probably never see the asphalt of a racetrack just as the Submariner seldom sees depths of 300 metres below the surface of the ocean. These two professional performers are commonly tasked with only the challenges of functioning on the streets of the world's metropolises.
To some, this comparison might seem a bit trite. However, if we must remember that neither the Rolex nor the Porsche gained their iconic reputation through empty posturing, so we feel compelled to compare their well-earned success.
The best of the best: Audemars Piguet and LamborghiniFrank Sinatra once said, "You buy a Ferrari when you want to be somebody, you buy a Lamborghini when you are somebody". Timepieces by Audemars Piguet are on a similar level to that of a Lamborghini, because when you buy a luxury watch from this noble Swiss manufacturer, you are buying the best of the best.
The appearance of avant-garde watches from Audemars Piguet speaks for itself, much like the sports cars from Sant'Agata Bolognese. Daring, excitingly sporty, almost aggressive and provocative designs are coupled with the will and the power to outmatch the competition. These qualities are the common denominator between the Italian sports carmaker Lamborghini and the Swiss luxury watchmaker Audemars Piguet. The fact that Lamborghini names its cars after famous fighting bulls rather than poets or picturesque landscapes says a lot about the Italians' corporate philosophy, as well. Similarly, Audemars Piguet adheres to its own ideals, focusing on unique designs and absolute perfection.
AUDEMARS PIGUET ROYAL OAK OFFSHORE 26283ST.OO.D010CA.01
Few watches are as reminiscent of a car as the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore is in comparison to the Lamborghini Aventador. Both represent extreme forms of proven, iconic design and combine unprecedented technical innovations to create impressive works of art. The Aventador and the Royal Oak Offshore may cause a stir with their striking and less than subtle appearance, but they can't help but captivate a broad range of people.
The choice of secret agents: Omega and Aston MartinThe combination of Omega and Aston Martin, created by the British writer Ian Fleming, is hardly surprising and undeniable. These days, it's synonymous with dry martinis, tailored suits and a silenced Walther PPK. However, James Bond's recipe for success consists not only with shaken martinis and the seduction of a femme fatale, but also of the interplay of his noble equipment, which always includes a luxurious wristwatch and a top-of-the-line sports car.
But even beyond the references to secret agents and James Bond, the comparison of Omega and Aston Martin suits these two perfectly. Let's take the Omega Seamaster Diver 300 M, arguably the Rolex Submariner's fiercest competitor, and have a closer look: the unique and distinctive design is paired with the brilliant technical implementation of necessities like the helium valve. Moreover, the materials are exemplary of outstanding craftsmanship. If you want to translate these characteristics not just to one car brand, but to one specific model, then only one car comes into question: the Aston Martin DB11. Just like the Diver 300 M, the DB11 stands out due to its qualities – and its quintessential British understatement. This might not be the first thing that comes to mind when talking about cars and luxury watches, but when comparing the Seamaster Diver and the DB11 to the aforementioned Royal Oak Offshore and the Lamborghini Aventador, this is definitely true.
OMEGA SEAMASTER DIVER 300 M 188.8.131.52.03.001
At the top: Patek Philippe and BugattiThe next duo completely redefines the word "prestige" and takes us back to past times. It is one of the most complicated models from the house of Patek Philippe and an automotive ghost. In the world of watches and automobiles, some examples need the help of prominent ownership to reach the heights of notoriety. However, the next two candidates stand out at the peak.
The Patek Philippe Grand Complications exemplifies the world of Haute Horlogerie. With a pre-owned price point at a whopping €650,000 (Ref. 5207P-001), this ultra-premium timepiece makes all other watches pale in comparison, yet it doesn't put itself in the spotlight. If you ever were to have the opportunity to attend a social event with this watch on your wrist, you would feel how the Grand Complications 5207P-001 makes the air in your immediate vicinity crackle. For its automotive counterpart, Bugatti sends an impossibly beguiling vehicle to the starting line: the Bugatti Atlantic 57SC. For a staggering $40 million, you can purchase one of the two cars still in existence – assuming their renowned owners like Ralph Lauren would ever put this noble car up for sale.
But the Patek Philippe and the Bugatti have much more in common than their enormously high asking price. The curved lines, the decorative elements on the platinum case of the Grand Complications and the fine brown leather are also found in slight variations on the Atlantic 57SC. These two masterpieces of engineering art seem like an ode to beauty and a reminder to observe good style in today's technology-driven world.
Luxury to the core: Vacheron Constantin and Rolls RoyceClose your eyes. Now, imagine sitting in an armchair, having a drink, and flying just over the streets. Now, open your eyes. Surrounded by quality and pure luxury, you find yourself in the back of a Rolls Royce Phantom – the car that redefines the word "luxury" and makes Bentleys, Mercedes sedans and Ferraris look second-rate. It is impossible to ignore the luxury in a Rolls Royce. Seemingly unaffected by trends and fashion, the body's design reflects luxury at its best, making the Phantom the perfect car to compare to a member of the "Holy Trinity of Watches": Vacheron Constantin.
Representative of almost wasteful luxury, cars from Rolls Royce seem slightly out of place in a time of change and sustainability, like dinosaurs in a petting zoo. Nevertheless, both brands captivate with their unparalleled excellence and quest for perfection. Whether with the Rolls Royce Phantom and the Vacheron Constantin Ladies (Ref. 1430) for the dignified lady of the world or the sporty Rolls Royce Wraith and the Vacheron Constantin Overseas (Ref. 49150/B01A-9097) for the successful, vibrant young entrepreneur, when there is talk of pure luxury, it is hard not to immediately think of Vacheron Constantin and Rolls Royce.
Uncompromising quality: A. Lange & Söhne and Mercedes-BenzWristwatches by A. Lange & Söhne and the car chassis from Mercedes-Benz are emblematic of the Teutonic drive for unmatched perfection. Those wearing a watch from A. Lange & Söhne are aware of the timepiece's quality – they don't have to impress anyone with it. As the drivers of a Mercedes sedan, they aren't interested in what others think of them. There's no question that they are wealthy. However, they prefer to spend their money on class and quality instead of ostentation and bravado. However, the high profile of the two brands makes it hard to hide that an S-Class costs a few hundred thousand euros and the Lange 1 is also worth the equivalent of a small car.
A. LANGE & SÖHNE GRAND LANGE 1 117.025
The interaction of prestige, pricing and attitude among the two brands is also interesting. Mercedes-Benz and A. Lange & Söhne would both fit more in an opera house than in a disco. In terms of the two brands' price segment, a model from either brand is anything but cheap, but by no means unattainable. Nevertheless, both A. Lange & Söhne, as one of the most respected German watch brands, and Mercedes-Benz are capable of breaking the 300,000 euro mark without any explanation. Despite its attempt at understatement, a Mercedes in the driveway says just as much about its owner as a luxury watch by A. Lange & Söhne luxury peeking out from under the sleeve of a sweater.
Italian machismo: Panerai and MaseratiThese two brands are the playboys of their respective industries and the adventurous bad boys of the luxury segment. Panerai watches and Maserati sports cars leave no doubt about the machismo of their owners and retain their charm even in modern times. Now and then, the emphatically masculine design of the two musclemen may be scoffed at by some, but the two brands still find numerous admirers and have a large following. A Panerai on the wrist hints at a wearer's military background, and his Maserati Granturismo parked in front of the café leaves no doubt as to the liquidity of his assets.
Both brands exude the world-famous Italian machismo like no other. Add to that the ominous rumble and snarl of the Maserati, which sounds like a feline predator ready for battle. Wreak havoc on the streets of an Italian port city and always maintain the upper hand thanks to a Panerai Radiomir on the wrist. Without a doubt, Panerai and Maserati form an unbeatable Italian duo.
PANERAI LUMINOR SUBMERSIBLE 1950 PAM00389
Exotic in their industries: Richard Mille and LotusAre you looking for something out of the ordinary? Something that not everyone has and will elicit a few envious glances? Then, you might want to reach for a wristwatch from Richard Mille and an automobile from the British carmaker Lotus. The futuristic timepieces by Richard Mille and the light sports cars by Lotus enjoy a futuristic, avant-garde reputation and translate this mentality into their designs. Cars like the Lotus Elise, affectionately known as just the "Elise," now enjoy a similar cult status as the Richard Mille RM 055, which in turn is nicknamed the "Bubba Watson". Moreover, whereas people used to speak condescendingly of Lotus as a "beginner's sports cars", this has long since ceased to be the case. Cars and watches from Lotus and Richard Mille occupy a space in the futuristic luxury segment and therefore, are more than an excellent team in our eyes.
The puppet masters in the background: Swatch and VWIt's interesting how the most inconspicuous players can often turn out to be the most important players on the field. This is exactly what the two brands Swatch and Volkswagen have understood more than any other brand. At first glance, both brands only produce not overly exciting, yet solid and outstandingly functional everyday items at a good price-performance ratio. On closer inspection, however, the two brands are huge corporations that have acquired a number of the most prestigious brands in their industry and thus saved them from potential ruin.
Prestigious manufacturers such as Bugatti, Bentley, Porsche, Audi and Lamborghini, among others, all belong to the international Volkswagen AG. These are carmakers that a layman would probably never associate with the manufacturer of the popular Beetle. These horsepower infused racecars would have long ceased to exist without the helping hand of VW. The same goes for the Swatch Group. The world's largest watch group now includes luxury watch manufacturers such as Breguet, Omega, Longines, Blancpain, Glashütte Original, Harry Winston and Jaquet Droz in its ranks. They have all played a key role in shaping the history of the wristwatch, but could not have withstood the far-reaching consequences of the quartz crisis on their own. In this respect, Swatch, which may seem simplistic to some, and VW, which is occasionally regarded as boring, have more than earned their place in the world of watches and automobiles.