Movements and Engines: Gentlemen, Start Your Rotors

“There are certainly similarities that can be drawn between the complexity of a high-performance car engine and the movement of a watch. It is all about precision, high performance and most of all passion.”

Christian Kurtzke, CEO of the Porsche Design Group
A powerful car or motorcycle mesmerizes its owner, as does a great-looking timepiece. The mechanical nature of both types of products carries a certain appeal, as the moving parts of a car engine are echoed in even the simplest mechanical movement of a timepiece. And the most complicated watch movements are more intricate and involve more moving parts than the most powerful car engine; yet these movements must run 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

“A car or a motorcycle is an engine for the road and a watch is an engine for the wrist,” says Jean-Claude Biver, president of LVMH’s watch division and CEO of Hublot.

“Every man who has played with cars when he was a boy has already an instinctive relationship to watches,” he adds. “Compared to electronics, any mechanical movement seems to be today a piece of art,” invoking the emotions, Biver says. “Art has a soul and art is closer to men and women” than pure technology.

While some people see cars and motorcycles and watches simply as utilitarian devices “cars and motorcycles are not just about transport and watches are not just about telling the time,” says Nick English, co-owner of Bremont Watch Company. “They are

about appreciating the engineering and craftsmanship that go into these things—and enjoying life.”

Plus many owners come to value not only the mechanics but also the incredible attention to design details involved in creating both types of objects, English says. “There is a feeling, quite rightly, that these beautifully made mechanical objects are built to last. Clean and simple elegance with a real purpose also has more of a place these days compared to pure fashion.”

Cars, motorcycles and watches can become symbols of a personality, a reminder of an achievement or a dream yet to be realized. “The model or type you choose says a lot about your taste and the kind of person you are,” says Sascha Moeri, CEO of Carl F. Bucherer. “They reflect personalities as much as they serve a purpose.”
9.Tazio Nuvolari 336 - limited edition - Ref. 41033
And the design itself is ultimately what often speaks to the customer. With high-end cars and motorcycles, a great deal of attention is paid to the aesthetics—in flowing lines, forceful postures and distinctive detailing. “There are certainly similarities that can be drawn between the complexity of a high-performance car engine and the movement of a watch,” says Christian Kurtzke, CEO of the Porsche Design Group. “It is all about precision, high performance and most of all passion,” he adds. The fascination people have with both engines and watch movements lies in “the functional interaction of small components that are assembled in masterful craftsmanship.”

Despite their small size, watches can be icons of fine design, whose smallest elements craftspeople have sweated over so that their details harmoniously form a distinctive aesthetic. The best vehicles and finest watches are immediately recognizable.

No one would confuse a Bugatti with a Ford, just as a Ducati Monster can be identified a city block away. Mario Peserico, general manager of Eberhard & Co., says, “The truth is that cars and watches have far more in common” than one might initially think “like the producers’ constant endeavors to improve the mechanics and the need to reach a perfect fit between the technical and the stylistic aspects.”

But “one of the nice aspects of our time is that more and more people can access and appreciate fine objects and understand the value of a finely crafted watch or car,” Peserico suggests.

“Cars and watches share unique engines that are complicated, yet approachable,” says Breitling USA’s president, Thierry Prissert. “Some may simply enjoy the thrill of being in a luxury car or having a fine watch on their wrist,” he says, adding, “With the Internet it has become more accessible to research the intricacies of each to really understand what makes one so unique and special.”

Thank goodness for fine watches and high-performance vehicles; they certainly make life more interesting and, some would say, more livable. —Keith W. Strandberg