Zak Smith takes a look at the motor and horology brands joining forces in the luxury market
Luxury horology is a multi-billion dollar industry, where the likes of Rolex, Panerai, Audermars Piguet and IWC compete in a highly competitive market for a place on every sophisticated gentleman's wrist.
With a keen focus on handcrafted design, limited production runs, timeless quality, cutting-edge utility and effortless class, it is no wonder that for over a decade some of the world's most recognisable brands have been pairing up with automobile manufacturers who share a similar ethos to deliver bespoke watches and special edition sports cars.
Those who drive the exotic should be expected to also wear the exotic, and more often than not, anniversary celebrations and new car launches provide the perfect tie-ups.
The most successful of auto-watch relationships has been between Breitling and Bentley, who celebrated their tenth anniversary together back in 2014. Having already established a working relationship through the Bentley Le Mans team, the connection between the two luxury giants cemented itself with the development of the wildly successful Continental GT.
Bentley entrusted Breitling to create a bespoke timepiece for its centre console and the rest, as they say, is history. Each Breitling for Bentley watch has a signature bezel similar to that of a Bentley's front grill, with the 'Breitling for Bentley' moniker and signature winged B adorning the timepiece.
With a shared passion for speed and craftsmanship, the relationship has resulted in a sub-brand worth millions to both parties and, as well as giving Breitling a wider product range, gives Bentley owners a bespoke and unique addition to the way in which they travel. (Pictured top: Breitling's Bentley Motors Complications Collection, Model L18841Ta-B788-761P.)
While some relationships have a luxury mass-market value, others choose to retain a rarity akin to the paired brands, none more so than Bugatti and Parmigiani, whose Type 370 joint creation retails at close to $300,000 (pictured below). It may seem steep for a watch, but the figure is chump change next to the car it belongs to, with the Bugatti Veyron in some editions costing over $3 million.
In a similar vein to Bentley and Breitling, IWC Schaffhausen also recently celebrated its decade-long partnership with Mercedes. Having launched its new sports car, the AMG GT, IWC Schaffhausen created the 25-piece edition Ingenieur Automatic Edition 'AMG GT', made of solid boron carbide, one of the world's toughest materials.
The exclusive model is not only rare and collectable but provides a fantastic marketing tool to show off the very best of the watchmaker's capabilities.
The relationship also works both ways. Back in 2008, Mercedes launched the SL63 AMG IWC Edition, limited to 200 cars worldwide, full of IWC branding and with a specially created timepiece for the dashboard. The relationship continues to go from strength to strength, demonstrated by the new 2016 SL63 AMG, launched just two weeks ago, which will continue to feature a bespoke IWC Schaffhausen timepiece in the centre console.
With a clear blueprint for success, these sorts of mutually beneficial relationships will continue to thrive, making time fly.