August 01, 2006

The Driving Watch

One of the most intriguing and bizarre of driving accessories has to be the driving watch.

Here I’m not refering to the beautiful collaborations between such marques as Bentley and Breitling, Ferrari and Panerai (or Girard-Perregaux before them) or Jaeger-LeCoultre for Aston Martin, but rather the unique and rare transverse timepiece, with the face displayed on the side for easy viewing while driving. (If you’re having trouble imagining it, put your hands out as if holding a steering wheel, then try to read your watch without moving your hand off the wheel.)

Parmigiani Fleurier Bugatti 370

In 2005, ultra-exclusive carmaker Bugatti and Swiss horlogère Parmigiani Fleurier released a timepiece as extraordinary as the Veyron supercar which it’s designed to compliment. The Parmigiani Fleurier Bugatti Type 370 (pictured at right) features an entirely original specially-designed manual movement arranged in a cylinder, rumored to have taken as long to develop as the Veyron itself. The movement is fully visible through the glass and 18-karat gold case, so you can watch the gears moving and the 10-day power-reserve indicator. Only 150 will be made (50 in each of three colors), with the first one reportedly going to design icon (and renowned car collector) Ralph Lauren.

LP Statosphere

If you like the idea of a sideways-mounted driving watch, but don’t have the $200,000 to spend on the Bugatti watch, then let me call your attention to another new release: the LP Stratosphere.

Instead of the intricate manual-winding movement of the Bugatti watch, the LP Stratosphere features a Swiss quartz movement encased in Italian stainless steel. LP offers a number of different face configurations and either a leather strap (in various colors with striking top-stitching) or now with a rubber strap (featuring similar tire-tread pattern to the Chopard Mille Miglia series).

Aside from the angled face that facilitates use while driving, the LP Stratosphere adds another notch of automotive pedigree with their sponsorship of Risi Competizione, the heralded team fielding the highly-successful Ferrari F430GT in the 2006 American LeMans Series.

Online timepiece merchants Tourneau sell an array of LP Stratosphere models ranging from about $1300 to $3000, which makes it an exclusive timepiece, to be sure, but a far cry from its $200,000 Bugatti counterpart.

More pictures of the Parmigiani Fleurier Bugatti Type 370 are available at La Côte Des Montres.
For more information on the LP Stratosphere, visit www.lpitaly.com.
Stay tuned for future features on other automotive timepieces.