A two-for-one deal is one of the little treats that can make a mundane day feel a little less so—whatever tax bracket you sit within. For most, that will likely be an extra Dairy Milk bar from your local Tesco. But for those taking home six figures, it's a bit more luxe. Think: a hand-made automative that comes with a unique watch as part of one astronomically large fee. Two mechanical masterpieces for the price of one, what a steal!
It was what caught the attention of petrolheads at this year’s Monterey Car Week, as Rolls-Royce unveiled the La Rose Noire Droptail. It's a coachbuild car—a bespoke service so exclusive the manufacturer's website describes it as “the automotive equivalent of haute couture”—that’s been fitted with pièce unique Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Split-Seconds Chronograph on its dashboard. It's estimated to be worth around $30 million.
As to be expected, this timepiece is as gobsmacking as the car’s price. Press a button on the left-hand side of the dashboard, and the 43mm titanium case will rise for the wearer to slip onto their wrist. AP artisans have hand-sculptured a solution to the bare holder, by way of a watch head fitted with a white-gold coin to put in place of the dashboard clock when it's out and about.
Inside the watch is an open-worked and self-winding calibre 4407, while custom red counters and a red inner bezel matches the car’s La Rose Noire colourway. Just like the original Concept that was launched earlier this year, the model comes with interchangeable straps that can be stored in its own leather pouch for when it’s not in use.
The type of customer who has opted for such an extravagant car modification will be pleased to know that dashboard watches of such intricate detail are generally a rare addition. That was until last week, when Vacheron Constantin announced that they too had designed a ‘one-of-a-kind’ dashboard watch for another custom Rolls-Royce Droptail—this time, in Amethyst.
Of course, just because it’s being made for the same-but-different-colour car doesn’t mean it’s the same-but-different-colour dashboard watch. The Swiss marque has equipped the single-edition Les Cabinotiers Armillary Tourbillon with the calibre 1990, a hand-wound in-house complication movement incorporating certain technical features deriving from Reference 57260—the most complicated timepiece in the world, presented by the maison in 2015.
A bi-axil tourbillon nods to the work of 18th century French watchmaker Antide Janvier, who invented a moving sphere with a planetary gear known as an armillary. Visually, it mimics the interlocking circles and armillas (graduated metal discs) of the famous scientific instrument modelling the celestial sphere.
Marking Vacheron Constantin’s first dashboard watch since 1928, their engineers worked hard to build a holder that would fit into the fascia of the car. Unlike the AP, this has been designed to look more like a pocket watch when taken out of its wooden house. Still, its speedometer-esque minutes display reminds you that it belongs within your car instead of your suit trousers.
As two very expensive, very intricately made dashboard watches are released in close succession of each other, it's clearly a good time to be a collector of watches and cars. And if you're not, it's a good time to start—expect more watch and Roller pairings in the future, as this trend is only just beginning. They're a bit like busses for people who don’t have to take busses; you wait ages for one, then two come along at once.