An Entwined History, Explored: Watches and Cars

Those with a passion for fine craftsmanship, engineering ingenuity and artistic design don’t need to be told of the commonalities shared by watches and cars. They speak for themselves. Both watches and cars represent the union of science and art. They are culturally linked; those with beautiful cars often sport luxury watches and vice versa.


But what is the cause for this link? While the land of symbolic associations is vast, there are about three specific reasons why we can deduce that these products appeal to people:


- Mechanics and art: a love of the engineering and art within watch and car design.

- Luxury and status: passion for the timeless luxury and status symbol of these products.

- Racing and timekeeping: a fascination with the shared racing history of these devices.


What this translates to is a strong societal association between automobiles and timepieces, with many groups sharing enthusiasm for these products. This directly results in real-world partnerships between car and watch companies. Take, for example, Breitling and Bentley; a notorious luxury car and watch joint effort.

These two are solidly linked. However, where did this partnership start? And how did we reach the point we are at today? We’re going to take you through the two key elements of the automobile and watchmaking industry’s shared legend, below.


Shared Product History


Let’s delve into the product history first. Watches were invented four or five centuries before cars. Man has always been fascinated with the concept of time, and watches were a key way of recording and understanding our place within the world.

However, man is also obsessed with achievement, speed and adrenaline. As soon as the petrol-fuelled cars of the 1880s hit the market, man began to race. And to race? You need a way to keep track of times. Chronographs were the natural choice for speed-loving daredevils. These functioned as both a traditional watch and a stopwatch, allowing racers to keep track of their race times.


Moving into the 1960s, race car drivers all wore chronographs for their races. From here, the associations between racecar drivers and watches continued. Racing legends like Michael Schumacher and Michael Andretti endorsed wristwatches as a staple part of their careers.

From this cultural association, grew even more solid partnerships. Beyond individual endorsement and sponsorship deals, official alliances between watch and car companies became ubiquitous. As Cars and Watches lists: “Breitling and Bentley, Parmigiani Fleurier and Bugatti, Chopard and Alfa-Romeo are but a few of the marriages.” The pairings are endless! These joint ventures result in beautiful high-quality limited-edition watches.

With so many automobile and watch companies actively working together on new designs, it’s no wonder these two products are indelibly linked.


A Shared Timelessness


So, we know how watches and cars first became entwined as products for racers. However, the consumer base of these products goes far beyond racecar drivers and racing aficionados. We mentioned above that the other groups of people who love these cars; those with a love for fine mechanisms, and also those with an eye for luxury. This is the shared legend which combines these two beautiful products.

A watch and a classic car are both a symbol of timeless luxury and status, beautifully engineered. Emphasis on timeless. Whether your oldtimer is a proud relic of a time gone by or a savvy financial investment, it certainly isn’t temporary. Likewise, watches are marketed as timeless products, to be passed down between generations.

Watches and cars are investments and also a sentimental marker of a certain time in history: yours. Grandfathers who lovingly care for their iconic 1960s cars, fathers who buy watches with the aim of passing them down to their sons - both of these examples are men marking their own time in history, with a product which is a relic of that.

This product is guaranteed to retain value and significance over time. It’s like a little message to the future; I was here, this was my personal taste and style. Unlike an inheritance, an inherited watch or car symbolises the original owner’s personality. Carrying your father’s watch means carrying a piece of him with you.

Few products are imbued with such cultural significance, luxury and timelessness. Cars and watches are forever linked by that.


Now and In The Future


Aeons of tinkering and experimentation has led to the beautiful feats of engineering which surround us today. Tracing this forward, modern mechanics and design are just as inspiring. New methods for uniting these shared cultural icons are constantly underway.

In an unprecedented first, Atelier Jalaper has paid homage to this entwined history by creating a series of watches which physically integrate a piece of oldtimer car. The engineering ingenuity behind this is an exciting leap forward.

Having chosen the Aston Martin for their first-series, the bonnet was integrated as the dial of the watch. This engineering challenge was overcome with ingenious design. Two years of research and development were invested into ensuring that the union of timepieces and luxury automobiles was perfect.

Our first-series is the result of expert craftsmanship calibrated towards a first-of-its-kind idea. This allows our clients to own a piece of the history we have explored today.

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