Crossover between supercar and high-end watch has been popular in the luxury market. For example, we have Lamborghini with Blancpain, Aston Martin with Jaeger-LeCoultre and Maserati with Audemars Piguet. Amongst them, Ferrari is always the major player in such practice. The brand with the recognizable prancing horse logo already started working with high-end Swiss watches at the beginning of the 90s to produce unique style watches, including Girard-Perregaux, Panerai and Hublot. Today I would like to explore if such crossover is putting a crown or shackles on high-end watch brands.
Mr. Gino Macaluso, with a great passion for car racing, bought the Maison Girard-Perregaux in 1992. Two years after the purchase, he partnered with Ferrari to create “Girard-Perregaux pour Ferrari” line. In terms of design, either it simply printed the Ferrari logo on the dial, engraved typeface of Ferrari on the case back or used Ferrari-Red and Ferrari-Yellow for making minute or hour hands, in order to express the DNA from both brands. In my eyes, those design elements are monotonous and flat. It is quite difficult to embody the actual features of a supercar.
After a ten-year cooperation, Panerai, replaced Girard-Perregaux and became a new partner with Ferrari. At that time, most of the people believed that the crossover between the two Italian brands was sexy, one represents earth, the other represents ocean. It is quite easy for people to recognize their products because their designs and looks are so iconic. The Ferrari collection launched by Panerai was independent of its classic collection. One only sees the Ferrari name, logo, or the dashboard inspired design on the dial by itself without the Panerai logo, but on the case back it is engraved “Engineered by Officine Panerai”. It is a bold design and at the same time Panerai was working hard to blend the Ferrari DNA into its watch. However, the design pattern cannot escape the two-dimension countenance. Still, I feel monotonous. Fortunately, during the time of their cooperation, Panerai, in terms of sales and marketing climbed up to the climax, its watches was popular in the market and also doing pretty decent in the second hand market.
The feedback of both the Girard-Perregaux/Ferrari and Panerai/Ferrari collections was not as good as anticipated. The cooperation between Panerai and Ferrari lasted for only five years. Then, Panerai started a buy-back procedure of those Ferrari watches from the market. I was told the last batch of the Girard-Perregaux crossover watch was sold at preferential price to watch dealers.
Why were the sales of the Ferrari collection from both brands not as good as contemplated? The first question I would like to ask is who would be interested in purchasing those Ferrari watches. Of course, it would be the fans or the owners of Ferrari, resulting in narrowing down the target audience. Do you think fans of Lamborghini or Porsche want to buy the watches? It is only reasonable and makes sense for the ones who drive Ferrari to own Ferrari watches.
As mentioned before, the design of those flat and two dimensional Ferrari crossover watches failed to highlight the elements of the Ferrari supercar. It only simply comprises the Ferrari logo, the Ferrari typeface or the Ferrari-Red and Ferrari-Yellow. I don’t think watch lovers or Ferrari fans would compromise easily on such design ideas.
As those Ferrari crossover watches are limited production pieces, it is assumed that they would become popular easily in the market. However, the reality would not lie. For example, model number Panerai FER00015 is a watch with the function of the perpetual calendar. Its retail price was HK$ 216,900 then. Today, the watch will only fetch around HK$100,000, subject to its condition, on the second-hand website platform, a drop of more than 50%. As a lover of Panerai, I am heartbroken!
After Panerai, Hublot from LVMH started the crossover cooperation with Ferrari in 2011. This time, I am so grateful because the design of the crossover eventually jumped from two dimension into three dimension. To be fair, technology has been developing rapidly since the 90s. What was impossible in the past, could become reality today., Here, I would like to share an avant-garde model of MP-05 LaFerrari from Hublot.
The design of MP-05 LaFerrari is so unique… no dial, no minute and hour hands at all but movement only. The spring barrels in the middle of the movement support the watch to run as long as 50 days. Its tourbillon is also vertically placed. Overall, it is rare to have such watch in the market.
When I visited the Hublot manufacture a few years ago, I was lucky to have a chance to put the MP-05 LaFerrari on my wrist. It immediately made me feel that I was “wearing a Ferrari engine”. Damn cool! As a matter of fact, if you want to become the master of the watch, the money you pay is sufficient enough to buy a nice and decent second hand Ferrari supercar. There is always the notion when one cannot afford a Ferrari supercar, he buys a Ferrari watch as consolation. However, Hublot broke this convention and enhanced the crossover to a new level that the watch brand is trying to compete with Ferrari in terms of monetary value. Does the legacy of such Ferrari crossover continue to prevail? Wait and see then.
Last but not least, I have a rhetorical question - why watch brands always cogitate so hard to incorporate supercar elements into their designs? It might be also playful to do the reverse… to blend watch elements into the car.