Rolls-Royce Teams Up with Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin to Create Custom Watches for its Droptail Models

As part of an unusual collaboration, two custom timepieces from the watch brands will be integrated into the dashboards of two new Droptail models
Rolls-Royce Teams Up with Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin to Create Custom Watches for its Droptail Models
August 25, 2023
Rolls-Royce Teams Up with Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin to Create Custom Watches for its Droptail Models

The automobile industry and the world of timepieces are driven by a common philosophy that focuses on fine craftsmanship, precision, and attention to detail. In the world of horology, there is a tradition of watchmakers paying homage to motor cars, race drivers or racing events. But it is rare to see luxury watches being incorporated into the dashboards of luxury cars as part of this tradition; Rolls-Royce’s new La Rose Noire and Amethyst Droptail models have made this possible. And for this feat, the automobile legend has joined hands with luxury watch brands Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin.

La Rose Noire Droptail & Audemars Piguet Royal Oak

The first of the four unique La Rose Noire Droptail models draws inspiration from the Black Baccara rose, a dark burgundy hybrid tea rose cultivar, and features a wearable Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept timepiece on its dashboard. The Black Baccara rose is a velvet-like flower that comes from France. Incorporating the colour of the flower into this model, the primary palette boasts a dark pomegranate colour, which appears almost black in a shaded place. But, when exposed to light, it demonstrates a red, pearlescent colour on the dark surface. The first red shade is named ‘True Love’  while the darker tone is called ‘Mystery’ because it is inspired by an intriguing aspect of roses — a rose seems to change its colour every time it is viewed from a different angle.

The fascia of the Rolls-Royce La Rose Noire Droptail is commissioned with an integrated one-off timepiece from Audemars Piguet. The 43 mm Royal Oak Concept Split-Seconds Chronograph GMT Large Date is powered by a unique self-winding Calibre 4407 movement, featuring a flyback chronograph and a split-seconds mechanism. It comes with a curved titanium case and bezel. Masterfully matched with La Rose Noire’s colourway, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watch has red counters and a red inner bezel, ensuring a bright contrast to the black ‘openworked’ dial, highlighted with rhodium-toned bevels.

The calibre, based on Audemars Piguet Calibre 4401, delivers a power reserve of 70 hours; it can be found in the Royal Oak Concept Split Second Chronograph GMT Large Date with a titanium case and a skeleton dial. Rolls-Royce made a unique request to the timepiece maker — the watch should be mounted inside the motor car and must also be removable so that it can be attached to a strap and worn as well. This vision was realised with a powered clasp mechanism that gently presents the timepiece at the touch of a button. What’s more, the watch, launched in February this year, has undergone minor modifications, specifically for the new Rolls-Royce model.

Once the timepiece has been removed, the aperture in the fascia is covered with a titanium openworked watch, highlighting a white gold coin that displays a rose engraving, hand-sculpted by Audemars Piguet; each of these pieces is hand-sculpted at the Swiss brand’s atelier. The car comes with door panniers that hold the slim, soft leather pouches for the straps and the black head watch. The openworked dial provides an overview of the mechanics through an opening that has been cut out from a single German silver plate, finished with sandblasted black PVD. The hour-markers, hands, counters, large date, and GMT day/night disc feature luminescent coating for optimum visibility in the dark. 

The watch also comes with bolder lines, a screw-locked crown at 3 o’clock, and pushers at 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock, created from black ceramic. The caseback showcases the advanced split-seconds mechanism, which has been inserted within the ball bearing holding the oscillating weight, and a pusher at 9 o’clock. The timepiece gets red and yellow accents for the chronograph and the GMT function respectively; these are accompanied by white gold hour, minute hands, and the hour markers. There is a black chapter ring with a white tachymeter scale and the outer bezel gets eight visible screws.

Amethyst Droptail & Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Armillary Tourbillon

The next model from Goodwood, England, is the Amethyst Droptail, one of the four units that are an expression of applied art. The duotone exterior paint finish captures the multiple stages of a Globe Amaranth’s bloom. The main body has a soft purple hue with a delicate silver undertone and is enhanced with fine flecks of powdered aluminium that reflect light, and create a captivating iridescent finish. A deep purple amethyst contrast paint, which is used on the motor car’s upper coachwork, contains a blend of red, blue, and violet mica flakes that together create a unique mauve colour with a subtle metallic sheen.

The Rolls-Royce Amethyst Droptail dashboard features a unique timepiece crafted by Swiss haute horlogerie Maison Vacheron Constantin. Handmade in Geneva, the piece, named Les Cabinotiers Armillary Tourbillon, has an intricate, hand-wound movement; it is securely housed in a specially designed holder, enabling it to be removed and stored separately from the motor car, if desired. The timepiece features a bi-retrograde display with instantaneous return of the hours and minutes as well as a bi-axial tourbillon.

Vacheron Constantin and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars worked closely together to ensure that the forms, the materials, and the colours of the timepiece were in perfect harmony with the motor car interiors. The instrument dial combines amethyst-coloured inserts with the partially brushed and polished finish of the timepiece’s hands. The timepiece is affixed to a white gold baseplate with a hand-crafted, sunburst, guilloché pattern. Furthermore, the watch, Les Cabinotiers Armillary Tourbillon Ref. (9880C/000A-182C), comes in a 43.8 mm stainless steel case. It has a transparent sapphire crystal dial. The outer periphery of the watch gets retrograde minute markings while the inner periphery has the hour mechanism with a tourbillon cage at 6 o’clock. The hour and minute hands are made of titanium.

Four patents have been filed by Vacheron Constantin. First, there is the instantaneous retrograde system, controlled by a single minute cam that synchronises the jump of the two hands at midnight or noon. The patented escapement collet – a component securing the inner end of the balance-spring – is made of titanium. The third patent concerns the architecture of the tourbillon carriages, which rotate every 15 seconds to form a Maltese cross motif, the Vacheron Constantin emblem. The fourth patent relates to the diamond-coated silicon pallet-lever, which offers greater resistance to wear and tear and an optimised friction coefficient.

The watch’s holder has been designed to be removed; it is made of polished steel, with a bevelled steel inner frame, laser-textured with a black PVD coating. The watch is run by Calibre 1990, a manual-winding movement, developed in-house, offering a power reserve of approximately 58 hours. Turning the watch over showcases the engraving of ‘Pièce Unique, Les Cabinotiers, and AC’.

Image Credits: Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin