The parallels between cars and watches have always been there, and are a lot more similar than we think
Good watches are not unlike good cars – well-made, nice to look at, made of exotic materials, and possess a characterful heart. The mental comparisons eventually led beyond the superficial, culminating in a question: what specific car would this watch be, if it were a car? Granted, it’s not the most original of questions, but the technological, aesthetic and cultural association has always been there, and oftentimes it’s a lot closer than we think. Here’s a list of cars we think some of our favourite watches would be, if they were cars.
Gorilla Fastback Thunderbolt – Dodge Challenger GT AWD
Run by Octavio Garcia, who spent over ten years working on watch design at Audemars Piguet and serving as its chief artistic officer in the last four years, Gorilla’s watches are design spectacles – the Fastback Thunderbolt is no exception. Utilising a modular chronograph, Gorilla decided to expose the movement behind the dial and make it visible to the wearer, rather than conventionally concealing it behind the dial, finishing the movement in a fashion that is very rarely seen. Not only does the Fastback Thunderbolt defy conventional horological wisdom through using the modular chronograph movement, which is considered inferior to the integrated chronograph, it makes the movement the star of the show by allowing the wearer to see the mechanism in action. As chronographs go, it completely goes against the idea of what a traditional chronograph should embody, and yet has emerged as a horological work of art.
The Challenger GT AWD, too, defies convention in its own way. Traditionally, muscle cars are beefy affairs, powered by giant HEMI V8s with insane amounts of horsepower, and delivering power to the rear wheels only. However, the Challenger GT AWD goes against this, and uses a 3.6 litre V6 engine instead, which powers all four wheels. While this may upset the purists, it makes the Challenger GT AWD more appealing to muscle car lovers looking for a daily, year-round driver, with the AWD drivetrain making it a more enjoyable and stress-free driving experience in unforgiving weather conditions. In doing so, Dodge has set itself apart from the rest of the competition – namely Chevrolet’s Camaro and Ford’s Mustang – further adding to its appeal.
Hublot Big Bang e – Tesla Model S
While not the first luxury brand to enter the smartwatch market, Hublot’s Big Bang e is arguably the one that retains a more traditional wristwatch wearing experience, while possessing more technological gadgetry. Possessing the same dimensions as its mechanical cousin, the Big Bang e also sports similar case materials and finishes. In terms of luxury smartwatches, the Big Bang e is as good as it gets, and is a major upgrade on its nearest competition: the Tag Heuer Connected, or Louis Vuitton’s Tambour.
As for the Model S, while it retains the silhouette and appearance of a conventional luxury sedan, it is anything but – much has been said about how it is a proper, direct competitor to more established luxury marques with EV lines, like Mercedes and BMW. With thousands of videos on YouTube showing Model Ses blowing Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Porsches and the like away at the lights, the Model S’ performance numbers are more than impressive. The highest spec Model S, the P100D, goes from zero to 100 km/hr in less than 2.5 seconds, while even the cheaper and slower 75D spec does the same in 4.5 seconds – numbers that put most supercars to shame, let alone other models in its class.
Omega Seamaster 300 – Aston Martin A3 Vantage Roadster
Omega’s vintage rework is undeniably a modern classic. Deriving inspiration from design cues on the original 1957 Seamaster dive watch, the Seamaster 300 combines vintage aesthetic with modern features: sapphire crystal, SuperLuminoa luminescence, and Omega’s in-house COSC certified, anti-magnetic calibre 8400 movement. Together, the Seamaster has the appearance of a vintage classic, but beats with a contemporary heart.
Aston Martin has always been somewhat synonymous with the Omega Seamaster, especially because of their James Bond ties, so for the Seamaster to be compared to an Aston Martin is only fitting. Like the Seamaster 300, the British marque’s bespoke A3 Vantage Roadster model is a tribute to the oldest surviving Aston Martin in existence, combining the best of modern Aston Martin tech with retro design details. Although the car looks like a conventional Vantage Roadster, a unique grille with bright aluminium surround and black square mesh, unique side fender panels fixed with a saddle leather strap, vintage Aston Martin script and logo, and the extensive use of brass on the rotaries are all inspired by the original A3’s design features. Together, the A3 combines heritage and modern cutting-edge in an aesthetically beautiful package.
Franck Muller Skafander – Bugatti Chiron
Obvious colour scheme similarities aside, both watch and car are pioneers in the worlds of horology and motoring respectively, and are built for high performance. The Skafander utilises a world-first pusher system, where two pusher pieces at the 8 and 10 o’clock positions advance the inner rotating bezel by one- and five-minute intervals respectively. With a safety lock at the 9 o’clock position to prevent diver mishandling, this groundbreaking watch is definitely made for high-performance diving.
As for the Chiron, although it uses the same quad-turbocharged W16 engine as its Veyron predecessor, it has been heavily updated. Producing more power and torque than the Veyron’s, the Chiron, too, was a pioneer in its own right – at the time of the test in 2017, Bugatti’s flagship hypercar set a world record, reaching a whopping 400 km/hr in a blistering 32.6 seconds, and needing only 9.4 seconds to brake to a standstill. The Bugatti name has always been synonymous with groundbreaking performance, and the Chiron is no exception.
Rolex 36mm Datejust – 2018 Mercedes E-Class
Detractors might call both the Datejust and the E-Class boring and somewhat – as the kids call it – basic, but that term also usually denotes a certain sense of reliability, which there is merit to. The Datejust has been one of Rolex’s oldest models, and is arguably a cornerstone of their catalog, having been largely responsible for the widespread and enduring success of the Rolex brand. While it does not receive the same acclaim as the Submariner or Daytona, its versatility and reliability has made it a timeless, beloved icon.
Similarly, while the E-Class isn’t a name synonymous with excitement, it has proved itself to be a reliable daily driver that poses so few issues that some claim that it comes with reliability built-in. Overall, the E-Class has been feted as the perfect balance between luxurious comfort, performance and reliability, making it a versatile and reliable daily commute.
Tag Heuer Monaco – Porsche 917
Steve McQueen. Le Mans. Gulf Oil livery. Need we say more?
Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711 – Mercedes-Maybach S650
Symbols of understated opulence, both the Nautilus 5711 and S650 have inspired controversy in their own regard. In the case of the former, the hype surrounding it doesn’t make sense given it is a rather minimalist sports watch without any noteworthy, distinctive feature to shout about; in the case of the latter, some argue that the S650 is just a more luxurious, longer and more expensive version of the Mercedes-Benz S350, with the added features unable to fully justify the $188,000 price difference between the two models. Either way, both car and watch feel somewhat underwhelming in the flesh, given the hype that precedes both.
Zenith Chronomaster Revival “Safari” – Land Rover Defender 90
Based on the legendary A384 of El Primero fame, the Revival “Safari” adds a touch of adventure and ruggedness to one of Zenith’s most well-known watches. A modern take on the A384, the Revival “Safari” has less vintage-inspired features: it is finished in a mix of satin-brushed and polished surfaces rather than the original stainless steel, giving the watch a more muted look. Adding to that, the dial’s matte olive and black dial, as well as the Cordura-style strap gives the watch a more distinctly rugged look. Nevertheless, the watch retains the El Primero 400 calibre – the direct descendant of and the one most similar to the original 1969 El Primero, so owners will still get to enjoy a piece of heritage on their wrists.
In a similar way, the Defender 90 is also an update of a time-honoured classic – in this case, of its beloved workhorse, the Defender. While it looks nothing like the Defender that gained Land Rover a widespread cult following among off-road enthusiasts, it still retains the elements of the original that made it so well-loved. For one, its boxy design somehow manages to evoke the old Defender’s iconic silhouette, and while it looks more posh than its predecessor, it still functions as a proper utility vehicle. The Defender 90’s unrivalled bodyshell strength allows it to withstand a seven-tonne upward load, and can tow loads of up to 4,536 kg. The many customisable options that come with the Defender 90 also make it a proper off-roader, with the optional steel “Commercial” wheels a nice nod to the Defender 90’s rugged roots. All in all, Land Rover has combined the best of its original best-seller with modern cutting-edge technology, resulting in a vehicle that possesses an avant-garde appearance, while managing to retain its iconic off-road utility spirit.
Patek Phillipe Sky Moon Tourbillon – Rolls-Royce Boat Tail
Patek Philippe’s second-most complicated wristwatch, the Sky Moon Tourbillon is every bit as exclusive and extravagantly priced as any other of Patek Philippe’s most sought-after watches, if not more. Featuring 12 complications on two dials, the Sky Moon Tourbillon is packed with enough complications and design features to make it a compacted museum of Genevan horology on the wrist.
Apart from the time, the Sky Moon Tourbillon also displays the retrograde date, perpetual calendar (day, month, leap year, moon phase, angular motion of moon), and a chart of the stars in the sky on the front dial. On the back, another time display indicates sidereal time as well as the meridian passage of Sirius and the moon. The front dial’s mean time can also be audibly indicated, thanks to a minute repeater on two cathedral gongs.
Design-wise, the case is made of rose gold, while the dial periphery, moonphase aperture and moonphase disc are made with the champlevé technique, where metal is hollowed out and then filled with enamel before firing. The inner part of the dial is made with a cloisonné enamel technique, in which flat gold wire is shaped into various forms, and then filled with enamel. The baroque-style engraving is also just as finely crafted – according to Patek Philippe, it takes over 100 hours to complete. As complicated, exquisitely-handcrafted luxury watches go, it is hard to get much better than this.
On the other hand, the Rolls-Royce Boat Tail is inspired by “Boat Tail” Rolls-Royce cars of the ’20s and ’30s, where coachbuilders grafted the hull forms of sailing boats onto Rolls-Royce chassis. The latest hand-built iteration comes packed with bespoke features – in this case, 1,813 new and totally bespoke parts, the highlight of which is the “hosting suite” in the aft. Consisting of a double fridge specifically for Champagne, two separate compartments dedicated to storing more champagne and food, a parasol, and a couple of tables and chairs, the Boat Tail comes adequately stocked for any picnic situation. In addition, the car also comes with two personalised Bovet watches that can either be worn on the wrist or mounted on the dash, for each of the couple who have purchased this example of the Boat Tail together. Paired with a V12 powerplant, the Boat Tail is the epitome of power, luxury and exquisite craftmanship all rolled into one.
Cartier Tank – Bentley Continental GT
The Cartier Tank is arguably the French luxury brand’s most iconic and easily-recognisable model. Deriving design inspiration and its name from its ubiquitous military vehicle namesake, the Tank was a departure from the curvier jewellery designs at the time in 1917, instead choosing to utilise tank-like square and rectangular shapes as part of its unmistakeable visage.
Today, the Tank has set the standards for what a dress watch should look like, and has gained a serious celebrity following along the way as well. Rudolph Valentino insisted that his character wear the watch in the 1926 movie The Son of the Sheik, former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy was also spotted wearing one on multiple occasions, and Andy Warhol used to wear one as well, because “it was the watch to wear” – he didn’t even wind it. Given the Tank has retained its status as a horological icon since its inception over a century ago, it is safe to say that the Tank is arguably what put Cartier on the map as a watchmaker.
In the case of the Continental GT, you would be hard-pressed to find a grand tourer that not only massively boosted sales for its manufacturer, but also set the template and tone for the whole brand. Arguably, if not for the inception of the Continental GT, Bentley might not be the British luxury coachbuilder that we recognise today. Having always embodied what a Bentley is, the latest iteration of the Conti GT is no exception. A handsome, if not slightly unusual-looking car due to its four iconic eye-like headlamps, it drives as well as it looks too – its heavy kerb weight helps to deliver the unshakeable stability and momentum that characterises the way Bentley’s cars drive.
An upgrade on its predecessor in terms of performance and handling, the addition of 48v electronics from the Bentayga SUV, longer wheelbase and air suspension have brought an added crispness to the car’s dynamics. Although compromising somewhat on comfort and relaxation, the car is more dynamic than its predecessor, and has retained the spirit of what made it so popular through the years – it still swallows distance with a charming swagger not seen in its competitors. All in all, the Continental GT is still the grand tourer that everyone who has driven one has come to love – just better.