Car and watch company partnerships are many, but those which seem to really get it right are far fewer. There are too many examples of watches that merely look like a licensing agreement with a car logo slapped on the dial and too few that offer thoughtful, holistic designs that naturally represent each brand's strengths and personality.
That's why the few examples below stand out in the watchmaking world — whether or not you've got the car to match it.
Zenith x Land Rover
Zenith is a Swiss watchmaker and Land Rover is a British carmaker, but somehow they've found a synergy that's resulted in some of the coolest collab watches in recent memory. The relationship began in 2016 and nearly every watch it's produced feels like a natural melding of the two brands' characters.
Rather than encapsulate a generalized Land Rover design, individual watches have focused on specific vehicle models, from the initial El Primero Range Rover chronograph to more technical models like the Defy 21 Land Rover Defender watch. The brands also note a shared history when in 1971 explorer John Blashford-Snell completed an overland expedition in South America behind the wheel of a Range Rover with a Zenith El Primero on his wrist.
Breitling x Bently
Another Swiss x British watch x car collab, Breitling's ongoing relationship with Bently started in 2002 and is the longest such partnership in history between car and watch companies. Branded as "Breitling for Bently," it's turned out a wide range of watches from tourbillon-equipped chronographs to connected quartz watches. Historically, many have had an aggressive, sporty character and incorporated a rugged-looking hobnail-textured bezel to match details sometimes found in the cars.
Modern Breitling for Bentley watches, however, have taken a more classical approach, though it's interesting to see how the prestigious carmaker's DNA can be reflected in a watch in different ways. While some of these watches seem most appropriate for actual Bentley owners others have a broader appeal.
Jaeger-LeCoultre x Aston Martin
Swiss watchmaker Jaeger-LeCoultre took car-watch collaborations to another level when they teamed up with Aston Martin. No matter how well-conceived or aesthetically "paired" such co-branding products are, rarely do they offer a functional or interactive connection to one another. Jaeger-LeCoultre's 2006 AMVOX watch functioned the way most modern key fobs do (which was less common at the time than it is today), allowing the wearer to lock-unlock their Aston Martin car via the watch by pressing the sapphire crystal itself like a button.
The AMVOX's most notable feature was, of course, only relevant to Aston Martin owners, but it made the collab with Jaeger-LeCoultre truly unique and memorable. Subsequent variations followed the original, but such partnerships are naturally limited in duration, and Aston Martin is more recently associated with TAG Heuer.
Ball x BMW
Ball, the Swiss-owned company with American roots, made watches with German carmaker BMW for a number of years, offering refreshingly down-to-earth designs with a restrained take on the automotive theme without too much in-your-face branding. A small, round BMW logo integrated tastefully into the dial design sufficed, alongside colors and lines that would appeal to BMW owners or fans.
There haven't been any new models in the "Ball for BMW" collection recently, but they can still be found for sale online. They include sizes, styles and even functions for a range of tastes, from chronographs to simple three-hand watches — and you don't need a BMW to own or appreciate them. While they are still very much luxury watches, the best part is that they're also significantly more affordable than the other watches on this list.
Hublot x Ferrari
Brash and showy, technical and expensive: Hublot and Ferrari both fit this description. Ok, so do collaborators Richard Mille and McLaren, perhaps, but the Hublot x Ferrari partnership has been a particularly long and fruitful one. Hublot's baller style might not appeal to every Gear Patrol reader's sartorial taste, but it matches Ferrari's well, and makes for some fascinating collaborations.
Hublot has used its relationship with Ferrari to create some of its most technical, avant-garde and high-end watches. The LaFerrari has a highly unusual movement that seems vertically oriented, featuring the time displayed digitally on rollers, 11 stacked mainspring barrels offering a 50-day power reserve, and a tourbillon at the end. Visually, it's like looking under the hood of a Ferrari. From watches in the brand's core Big Bang collection to more experimental pieces, each seem fit for a supercar.