If high auction prices for classic TAG Heuers are any indicator – not to mention the litany of vintage-inspired chronographs the watch industry is producing – retro is very much in fashion for motoring watches.
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Montblanc, however, is looking to the future, rather than the past. It has revamped its TimeWalker sports watch collection around a classic motoring theme, with both a super-retro model and the groundbreaking Chronograph 1,000 Limited Edition 18, which will measure elapsed time to 1/1,000th of a second.
The chronograph here is driven by a separate gear train with a balance running at a sky-high frequency of 50Hz – that’s 100 moves to-and-fro per second – with a double hairspring and a two-level column wheel to govern its action. The chronograph also has its own mainspring, with a remarkable 45 minutes of run-time. The power reserve read-out for this – which is on the right of the dial – is designed to resemble the style of old-school vintage dashboards.
Hublot, meanwhile, is the warden of probably the most enviable watch/car brand tie-up in the luxury world, having for the past five years been watch partner of Ferrari. Hublot is known for its porthole-shaped watches (“hublot” is French for porthole, after all), but Ferrari’s 70th birthday is clearly an event of sufficient importance to step outside the usual format. In fact, the car maker’s celebrated design director Flavio Manzoni and his team took the controls in coming up with the look of the Techframe Ferrari 70 Years Chronograph Tourbillon, conceiving an unusual skeletonised case inspired by a supercar’s lightweight frame.
This chassis is machined from forged carbon, a material as strong as it is light, and Hublot’s in-house tourbillon chronograph movement is on full view inside the dial. There are also versions in titanium and Hublot’s scratch-resistant Magic Gold alloy, limited to 70 editions of each style.
Finally, a technicolour gem from Bell & Ross, marking the second year of its sponsorship of the Renualt Sport Formula One Team. The French marque established itself with large, square watches inspired by aeroplane cockpit instruments, but has branched out recently with the dynamically high-tech BR-X line of sports chronographs.
Each is characterised by large cases with skeletonised elements and open-worked dials. The bright splash around the dial of BR-X1 RS17 is inspired by the colourful switches and displays that populate an F1 steering wheel. Indeed, each of the watch’s functions, from the date to the chronograph to the running seconds, is colour coded. In the often dour, monochrome world of luxury watches, it’s a stand-out.