Driven by Precision

Partnerships Garner Rich Rewards for Watch Companies and Motor Sports

Breitling for Bentley B06S - Black Dial - on White

When the first car rolled down the street, chances are someone checked a timepiece to see how fast it was going.

Today the link between the two categories of products persists in a range of branding and financial ties: Many watch companies are involved in partnerships with car companies or more specifically motor sports organizations.

For example, Rolex sponsors the 24 Hours of Daytona, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Formula One while Chopard hosts the Italian Mille Miglia. Blancpain has a partnership with Lamborghini. BRM designs and produces watches inspired by car and motorcycle engines.

TAG Heuer has enjoyed a long history in timing Formula One and is now involved with the electric Formula E.

Tissot serves as the timekeeper for MotoGP and Superbike and crafts the official timepiece; the company additionally sponsors Nascar driver Danica Patrick. Oris partners with the Williams Formula 1 team. Plus, Ball works with BMW and Tudor designs a line of Ducati-inspired watches.

“With so many shared characteristics, the partnership between Breitling and Bentley was a natural fit,” says Thierry Prissert, pesident of Breitling USA. “Having a Breitling in the Bentley dashboard adds a new level of luxury. Similarly, it is an honor to be able to share Breitling watches with the owners of the Bentley Bentayga.”

Another Bentley-Breitling partnership resulted in a limited edition of seven vehicles, the Bentley Continental GT Speed Breitling Jet Team Series. This corresponded to the seven jets of the Breitling Jet Team, an elite aeronautics team, and honored its inaugural U.S. tour last year. “Customers who purchased the vehicle had the opportunity to fly with the team and receive the Breitling Chronomat 44 Jet Team edition that corresponded with both the number of their car and the Breitling jet,” Prissert says.

Breitling for Bentley B06S - Rose Gold


High-performance vehicles must meet stringent standards in timekeeping since in racing, a win hangs on a difference of a fraction of a second, requiring an incredible level of precision. This is something watchmakers have long been keenly attuned to.

“In founding his workshop in the Swiss Jura in 1884, Léon Breitling chose to devote himself to [an] exclusive and demanding field—that of chronographs and timers,” says Prissert. “These precision instruments were intended for sports, science and industry.”

Indeed, the Breitling company grew alongside the rise of competitive sports and the first feats of aviation pioneers as well as the heightened popularity of automobiles.

“To work closely with some of the very talented designers these motoring companies have working for them is an incredible privilege,” says Nick English, co-owner of Bremont Watch Company.

English recalls his careful collaboration with Jaguar’s design director Ian Callum to produce a special Bremont collection, capturing the spirit of the carmaker “in a subtle yet relevant way.” Conversely, Jaguar has channeled Bremont’s style to help in some of its projects like the CX-75 Supercar.


A watch company’s partnership with car and motorcycle companies can be advantageous in bringing in a fresh set of customers, Breitling’s Prissert points out. “We are able to tap into a new audience, most of whom are already interested in beautifully made, well-engineered and, in this case, British-made products.” Choosing the right partner is critical,though.

Eberhard sponsors vintage auto events and has created a collection dedicated to Italian race car driver Tazio Nuvolari. “The partnership works through an exchange of consumers’ contacts,” says Eberhard’s general manager, Mario Peserico. “The brands should be positioned on the same level; it would be wrong to expect one of them to function as a trailer for the other. The main target should be to merge the consumers and fans of each brand in order to take advantage of a selected audience for the communication and commercial initiatives,” he says.

“Particularly for a niche brand like Eberhard, with a production limited to 16,000 watches per year, to be able to focus on the target audience is very important,” Peserico adds. This is all the—“more so if the context allows us to communicate on our history and tradition to potential clients that love to know about true stories.”




Information sharing is an additional benefit of a successful team up between two partners. Even though cars, motorcycles and watches share much in common, they operate in different spheres so partnering can offer participants eye-opening perspectives.

“Exchanging ideas and information with highly trained experts can be very stimulating,” says Carl F. Bucherer CEO Sascha Moeri “Especially with a partner such as Rinspeed, we share a very similar philosophy,” he adds, noting that the partnership arose as a natural extension of his company’s garnering inspiration from different sources.

And “working together can be described as being a mutual stimulus in creativity and thinking,” Moeri says. “Rinspeed, as do we, expects the very best, in all respects,” and is at the forefront of its field, “always ahead of time, a step ahead of [its] peers, pushing progress to the brink of possibilities,” Moeri adds.



When watch and vehicle companies work together, design ideas can flow in both directions. “I work with a Bugatti designer. I show them the products,” says Florin Niculescu, Parmigiani Fleurier’s vice president of product development.“We share information about our inspiration and … all the materials to build the watch.”

Adds Niculescu: “What we need from them is to know how they design the inside of the car, to be as close as possible to what the final customer asks for. I need to know what kinds of leathers, what shapes they put in the car.

“Each Bugatti is unique, and each customer works with the design team to personalize according to the customer’s desires,” he says, noting Bugatti and Parmigiani have almost the same customers. “How we start all the projects [is] almost the same process.”

Having been partners since 2002, Breitling “works very closely with the designers from Bentley in their designs,” Prissert says, noting that many of his company’s watches take design cues from Bentley. “The Breitling for Bentley GT3 chronograph has a carbon-fiber dial similar to the carbon fiber used in the Bentley Continental GT3 that won the world-famous Le Mans race in 2014,” he adds.

“Additionally, all of the watches in the Breitling for Bentley collection share design elements noted in Bentley automobiles, such as the knurled motif on the bezel, a nod to the famous Bentley radiator grilles,” he adds. Another example: the 360-degree sculpted oscillating weight in some of the Breitling for Bentley watches that evokes the shape of a wheel rim.

Likewise with the creation of the Bentley Continental GT Speed Breitling Jet Team Series Limited Edition, Breitling worked in tandem with Bentley’s bespoke Mulliner division to produce design elements from the jets in the seven limited-edition cars, says

Prissert. The exterior of the car and interior customizations were painted with highlights matched to the exact Pantone shade of Breitling’s unique yellow, reflecting the trademark look of the L-39 Albatros Jets.


A Giugiaro Design collaboration let Seiko step out of its comfort zone to experiment and “brought out watches with first-class functionality and a full sense of fun,” says Shigeto Kojo, Seiko’s manager of product planning. The results? A watch with push buttons (for ease in using with driving gloves), a watch vertically and horizontally angled so a driver can read the dial while holding a steering wheel, a watch with an off-centered case and a timepiece with a protector like a motocross bike’s.

“Each model has a new idea for a driver or a rider with variety of styling and functional movements,” Kojo says, labeling them brand-new innovations. “And collaborations contributed to adding a fresh image to our brand and greatly stimulated our in-house watch designers.”

Watch companies’ work with motor sports outfits can expose them to novel technologies and materials that might end up in timepieces. “The six bespoke chronometers we built to complement the six new Lightweight E-types built by Jaguar incorporated materials such as aluminum saved during the construction of the new lightweight body panels,” says Bremont’s English, noting the straps “are made from the same Connolly leather, which is used for the interior trim on these original cars.”


Porsche Design benefits from all the design developments that arise within its diversified parent company, the Porsche Corporation. “Porsche Design watches have always been inspired by high-performance cars and motorsports,” explains Porsche Design Group’s Christian Kurtzke. Looking at the specific needs of racing drivers, Porsche Design founder and designer of the iconic Porsche 911, Professor F. A. Porsche relied on matte-black surfaces and titanium for watches at an early stage.

“At night, the reflection of light on the dashboard makes it difficult to read the instruments and disrupts the concentration of racers,” Kurtzke adds. “The solution was as simple as it was ingenious: a matte-black cockpit with white hands—maximum contrast for optimal readability.” He asserts that Porsche Design marked a milestone in watch design with its completely all-black chronograph. “In 1980, the influence of motor sports inspired Porsche Design to be the first to manufacture an all-titanium watch,” he says.

Kurtzke adds his company’s new timepiece collections include innovations inspired by cutting-edge technology and high-end materials used in sports car components. “Inspired by motorsports, all Porsche Design watches are made exclusively of ultra-light, extremely durable and corrosion-free titanium.” — Keith W. Strandberg