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Cars & watches - News from the Geneva Motor Show

Cars & watches News from the Geneva Motor Show

Watch brands flaunt their partnerships at one of the key motor industry events of the year.

Less than two months after enduring the cossetted luxury of the SIHH at Palexpo to see the 2018 collections from many of the finest names in watchmaking, some intrepid watch journalists are back at the Palexpo once again this week at the Geneva International Motorshow in search of new timepieces. 

Two of the brands at the SIHH, Richard Mille and Roger Dubuis, are clearly using the Geneva show, which is recognised as one of the few that attracts even the niche high-end car manufacturers, as a platform to launch new models. Jean-Marc Pontroué, CEO of Roger Dubuis, had explicitly stated that this would be the case ever since the brand teamed up with Lamborghini last year. To see the watch on the Lamborghini stand, however, you needed a VIP access to the first floor lounge. The lucky few who did could admire the Excalibur Spider Pirelli SOTTOZERO™, which has a rubber strap with the asymmetric tread pattern of Pirelli’s winter tyre. The SOTTOZERO™ offers exceptional grip on snow and ice thanks to nails embedded in the rubber. In the case of the watch, the effect is reproduced using titanium studs.

 News from the Geneva Motor Show

Excalibur Spider Pirelli SOTTOZERO © Roger Dubuis

TAG Heuer and Aston Martin

Aston Martin is the title sponsor of the Red Bull Racing F1 team this year, but arcane engine-supply agreements mean that the car’s actual power unit is still bizarrely labelled TAG Heuer. The two names officially became linked during this year’s Geneva International Motorshow with a partnership that covers Aston Martin and Aston Martin Racing. As well as being the official timekeeper of Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, TAG Heuer will now be the Official Watch Partner of the WEC team racing the Vantage GTE, which signals TAG Heuer’s return to the World Endurance Championship. Apart from the pure branding benefits from the partnership, both sides are looking to exploit synergies similar to those we have seen from the tie-ups between Roger Dubuis and Lamborghini and Richard Mille and McLaren. As Aston Martin’s President and CEO, Andy Palmer, confirms: “Both brands have teams of brilliant designers and when two talented teams of designers collaborate like this, incredible things are created.”

 Reportage au Salon de l’auto de Genève

Carrera Aston Martin © TAG Heuer

Like TAG Heuer, Gulf Oil has a longstanding and unmistakable link with the world of motor racing. Just as the Heuer logo was visible on the Ayrton Senna’s McLaren when he won his first of three Formula 1 world championships in 1998, the light blue and orange livery of Gulf Racing is ingrained in the memory of motorsport aficionados thanks to its presence on the legendary Porsche 917. Already well known on the circuit, this car was propulsed to international fame as the star of Steve McQueen’s film Le Mans.

 Reportage au Salon de l’auto de Genève

Monaco Gulf © TAG Heuer

Richard Mille and McLaren

Richard Mille’s goals are less explicit, but since last year the brand has only really presented one major highlight at the SIHH. The second big launch this year was on the McLaren stand at the Geneva International Motor Show, which is clearly a great way of targeting a wider audience, and of achieving much greater media exposure than at the SIHH. The two brands presented their first jointly-commissioned timepiece with the RM 11-03 McLaren Automotive Flyback Chronograph. It is a limited edition of 500 pieces reserved primarily for McLaren customers and incorporates design elements from the McLaren 720S and the McLaren F1. The requisite touch of McLaren orange comes in the form of Orange QuartzTPT® interlaced with the Carbon TPT® of the case. It is equipped with the RMAC3 calibre flyback chronograph calibre that was first launched in 2016 and retails for 180,000 Swiss francs. 

 Reportage au Salon de l’auto de Genève

RM 1-03 McLaren © Richard MIlle

One watch brand missing at this year’s Geneva Motorshow was Carl F. Bucherer. For a number of years, the brand’s traditional mechanical watches have featured prominently (and often incongruously) in the futuristic concepts presented every year by Rinspeed, the self-styled “Creative Think Tank and Mobility Lab for the Automotive Industry” based in Switzerland that is the brainchild of Frank M. Rinderknecht. After seeing a Manero Power Reserve on the steering wheel of the “Budii” in 2015, a Patravi Traveltec on the dashboard of the Etos concept car in 2016 and the Manero Flyback on the steering wheel of the “Oasis” presented last year, there was no watch to be seen in the modular, self-driving “Snap” that Rinspeed  presented this year in celebration of its 40th anniversary at the show. 

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