Custom Bovet Watches for the Rolls-Royce Boat Tail

Special timepieces for a grand automobile.

Having just debuted its Coachbuild division where spare-no-expense bespoke automobiles are built, Rolls-Royce revealed the very first car to roll off the Coachbuild production line – the Boat Tail. Reportedly priced at US$25 million – and reputedly sold to Jay-Z and Beyoncé – the Boat Tail is a yacht-sized convertible with a built-in cocktail bar.

Likely the most expensive car today, the US$25 million automobile is delivered with a champagne chiller, tea towels, and crystalware – and a pair of unique Bovet watches that double up as dashboard clocks.

The car is painted in the clients’ favourite shade of blue

Best known for its elaborate, double-sided watches, Bovet created a pair of watches for the Boat Tail’s husband-and-wife owners. The two timepieces required some 3,000 hours of work for both development and execution according to Bovet.

The two timepieces are based on the Amadeo, Bovet’s signature wristwatch that can be converted into a pocket watch – or mounted on the Boat Tail’s instrument panel – a nod to the brand’s history as a leading maker of ornate pocket watches for the 19th century Chinese market.

Initial thoughts

Collaborations between watchmakers and luxury automobiles manufacturers are common, with Girard-Perregaux having just announced a partnership with Aston Martin and Richard Mille signing with Ferrari last year. Most are a good match in terms of position, with some exceptions like the longstanding tie-up between Breitling and Bentley, which sit at opposite ends of the price spectrum in their respective fields.

Bovet and Rolls-Royce, however, make sense together. Both are high-end makers with an extravagant, lavish style that is hard to miss. And the annual output of each is in the same ballpark – Bovet produces less than 3,000 watches a year, while Rolls-Royce made just 3,756 cars last year.

The twin watches were conceived according to the couple’s preferences and to match the car, so it makes little sense to critique the design. That being said, I do like the execution. The timepieces are elegant but still ornate, being decorated with a variety of artisanal techniques, ranging from engraving to wood marquetry. And they are also technically impressive, having a double-faced movement with a tourbillon.

As the two watches were a custom commission to accompany the car, they are not available for sale. They are, however, a good representation of Bovet’s custom watches. I wouldn’t be surprised if commercially-available watches will spring from this collaboration.

The bar within the rear of the Boat Tail

Four-in-one

Both watches are identical in size and movement, but distinguished by their decor.

The cases are 18k white gold, with dials on the front and back. On the front, both watches feature a dial finished in wood marquetry, with narrow strips of ebony hand-applied to replicate the Boat Tail’s deck in both style and material.

The gent’s model

Just below is a miniature, two-dimensional replica of the Spirit of Ecstasy, the iconic Rolls-Royce hood ornament. Made of 18k gold, it’s engraved by hand and inset on the tourbillon bridge.

The deck of the Boat Tail is panelled in wood veneer

On the back, the two timepieces are similar, but more obviously different.

The gent’s watch has an aventurine-glass dial featuring a sky chart showing the night sky over the owner’s birthplace on his birthday. The lady’s model is more decorative, with a mother-of-pearl dial bearing a miniature painting of a flower bouquet.

The ladies’ watch, which also has a hand-engraved case

But both watches share the same miniature sculpture of the Boat Tail overlaid on the sub-dial for the time. Like the Spirit of Ecstasy over the tourbillon, the car is manually sculpted in white gold then hand engraved.

And crucial for this pair of watches was the mechanism to fasten them on the dashboard, which was perhaps the most difficult aspect of the watch since it has to meet automobile-safety regulations.

Designed to integrate seamlessly into the instrument panel, the mounting for the watches is shockproof so that the running of the car doesn’t affect their timekeeping, while also being secure enough to be stay in place during a crash.

Notably, the tourbillon is eminently practical in a dashboard clock, since it was originally invented for timepieces that are stationary and vertical – making it perfect for the Boat Tail.


Key facts

Bovet Rolls-Royce Boat Tail

Diameter: 44 mm
Height: 14 mm
Material: White gold
Water resistance: Unavailable

Movement: Custom calibre comprising 284 components
Functions: Hours and minutes on both faces; power reserve indicator on front; tourbillon
Winding: Hand-wound
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Power reserve: Five days

Limited edition: Unique pair

For more, visit Bovet.com.


 

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Louis Erard Introduces the Alain Silberstein Le Triptyque

Mono-pusher chronograph, regulator, and calendar.

Having debuted the first Alain Silberstein collaboration two years ago, Louis Erard is now back with a trio of watches conceived by the designer known for his Bauhaus-inspired, offbeat style – the Le Triptyque Louis Erard x Alain Silberstein.

Featuring a titanium case with unusual fixed lugs that form a frame, the watches are rendered in Mr Silberstein’s recognisable style made up of geometric shapes and primary colours. The three are essentially Mr Silberstein’s interpretation of the traditionally-styled Excellence Triptych that Louis Erard debuted last year.

Available individually or in a box set accompanied by a Silberstein NFT artwork, the watches are priced affordably, starting at CHF3,500 for the time-and-date and rising to just CHF4,500 for the single-button chronograph.

Le Régulateur Louis Erard x Alain Silberstein II

Initial thoughts

The Alain Silberstein triptych is easy to like. The watches have a distinctive, cheery style while being accessible in price. They are simple in construction and finish – the movements, for instance, are reliable but not much to look at – but appropriate for the price and still good value.

Although the design is entirely new, the case retains the character of Alain Silberstein’s original timepieces, as do the dials. That said, the shape of the hands doesn’t help legibility so it takes a while to read the time.

And although La Semaine is the base model in the line up, it has the bonus feature of Mr Silberstein’s amusing “Smileday” indicator for the day of the week.

Smile, it’s Friday

Titanium and brancard

All three watches share the same titanium case, a tall cylinder that’s 40 mm in diameter (though the chronograph is a bit thicker) with brancard-style lugs – two arched bars on either side the case that hold the strap.

Unusually, the watches are delivered on a nylon strap with a Velcro closure, a first for Louis Erard. The nylon strap is secured to the case with end links that incorporate a quick-release mechanism, making replacement with a conventional strap easy.

While chunky, the case is titanium, which makes it fairly light. All three models have a display back that reveals the movement that’s either Sellita or ETA. Both movements types are equally reliable, but neither has been dressed up.

The ETA 2836 inside the La Semaine

The range starts with the La Semaine Louis Erard x Alain Silberstein, which shows the time, day, and date. Priced the same, but slightly more interesting mechanically is the Le Régulateur Louis Erard x Alain Silberstein II that shows the hours, minutes, and seconds on separate sub-dials, a layout known as regulator after the clocks with the same format.

La Semaine

Le Régulateur

The top of the line model is the Le Chrono Monopoussoir Louis Erard x Alain Silberstein. It’s a chronograph controlled by a red button that’s co-axial with the crown, but the button is unfortunately plastic.

Like Louis Erard’s standard mono-pusher chronograph, this has a 30-minute register at 12 o’clock, along with an elapsed central seconds hand.

Le Chrono Monopoussoir

Each of the watches will be available individually, but also together as an actual triptych. Priced about CHF400 less than the total of the three separately, the three-piece set is delivered in a wood box along with an NFT digital artwork illustrated by Mr Silberstein.


Key Facts and Price

La Semaine Louis Erard x Alain Silberstein 
Ref. 75357TT02.BTT88

Diameter: 40 mm
Height: 11.6 mm
Material: Titanium
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: ETA 2826-2
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, and “Smileday” day of the week
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 38 hours

Strap: Nylon with velcro closure

Limited edition: 178 pieces (78 of which will be sold as a box set)

Availability: Direct from Louis Erard online
Price
: 3,500 Swiss francs


Le Régulateur Louis Erard x Alain Silberstein II
Ref. 85358TT02.BTT88

Diameter: 40 mm
Height: 11.6 mm
Material: Titanium
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: SW266-1
Functions: Hours, minutes, and seconds in regulator layout
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 38 hours

Strap: Nylon with velcro closure

Limited edition: 178 pieces (78 of which will be sold as a box set)

Availability: Direct from Louis Erard online
Price
: 3,500 Swiss francs


Le Chrono Monopoussoir Louis Erard x Alain Silberstein 
Ref. 74359TT02.BTT88

Diameter: 40 mm
Height: 13.9 mm
Material: Titanium
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: SW500 MPCa
Functions: Hours, minutes, and chronograph
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 48 hours

Strap: Nylon with velcro closure

Limited edition: 178 pieces (78 of which will be sold as a box set)

Availability: Direct from Louis Erard online
Price
: 4,500 Swiss francs


Le Triptyque Louis Erard x Alain Silberstein box set
Ref. 11111TT02

Features: All three watches in a presentation box along with an NFT digital artwork by Alain Silberstein

Limited edition: 78 sets

Availability: Direct from Louis Erard online
Price: 11,111 Swiss francs

For more, visit Louiserard.com


Correction June 8, 2021: The case diameter is 40 mm, and not 47 mm as stated previously.

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