The one-offs: the ultimate bespoke Rolls-Royce Boat Tail and Bovet watches
“When you commission a Rolls-Royce, you’re working on a canvas that already exists, creating your version through details. With Coachbuild, you’re defining the canvas itself,” says Alex Innes, head of the marque’s bespoke Coachbuild Design team. “Instead of details, we would talk about scale, proportion, grandeur – what sense of occasion are we looking to achieve?”
For the marque’s second Coachbuilt car of the modern era, ‘Boat Tail,’ that canvas was inspired by the clients’ love of yachting – and their equal passion for Bovet timepieces.
“This exceptional couple of collectors brought us together, the Houses of Rolls-Royce and Bovet, with the challenge to display for the first time ever a mechanical timepiece mounted on the dashboard,” says Pascal Raffy, owner of the Swiss watch brand.
On the one hand, the commission implied a rare and exquisite level of artisanry: for the Rolls-Royce, a life-sized clay model followed by 12 months of hammer-forming the metal panels by hand; for Bovet, two reversible watches that reproduce elements of the ‘Boat Tail’ in miniature so detailed it is only discoverable through a magnifying glass.
On the other hand, there is the engineering that underpins the design. And this is where the true significance of bespoke production comes through, where the pursuit of uniquely personal and meaningful design requires extraordinary and often unseen feats of technical innovation.
“To mount a mechanical Tourbillon watch in the dashboard,” says Raffy, “you have the contingencies of heat, weight, magnetism, temperature, humidity, and crash tests…”
“You have 200 grams of pure gold – without a solid system to hold it in place, it’s a bullet!”
The engineering marvels are like the submerged iceberg beneath the visible artisanry, requiring almost four years of both Houses to meet astonishing technical demands. But what almost defies belief is that this breathtaking level of engineering rigour is applied not only to the requisite structural and safety elements, but also, even moreover, in the service of the almost whimsical and defining personalisations.
“I love talking about the parasol; it’s fanciful and the sort of thing that nobody would ever quite believe you would do,” says Innes. “But we take those kinds of thing so seriously, that it has to be a flawless Rolls-Royce solution. So as a group of automotive designers and engineers, we set about developing our own parasol.”
“The whole hosting concept was really our interpretation of how the clients wished to use the motorcar,” he continues. “There’s this lovely British quality to a Rolls-Royce, a serving quality and a polished etiquette. And the idea was that Boat Tail wouldn’t just be a car provisioned with items (the Champagne, the hosting suite) but that the car should really offer itself to you. And then the Parasol for us was really the crowning moment where we thought, well, of course if we’re inviting guests to stand at the rear of the car, we’re going to have to offer them some shade as well.”
Both Innes and Raffy express an appreciation for the patronage implied by the commission – not only the chance but the challenge to push their artisanry and engineering in the pursuit of truly bespoke creations.
“We build an amazing rapport with these people who are, in their own right, usually pretty extraordinary,” says Innes. “And you have the chance to spend time in their company, but also to understand them and how they express their success.”
Raffy likewise has an affinity for the clients, being himself been an avid collector of Bovet’s timepieces (before collecting the House itself), as well as a patron of Rolls-Royce (he currently sports a Wraith and a Dawn).
“The clients have taste, they take an interest in every detail,” Raffy says. “It’s a journey that you must do together with your collectors. And as you discover the Boat Tail car as well as the timepieces, you’ll see that every corner, every detail has been taken care of with elegance and quality.”
And then the collector in him adds: “It will be your selfish pleasure every day, and every day you will discover a new detail.”
Because at the end of the day, these uniquely bespoke pieces are all about the owners, and the brands’ expression of their success – and only the owners will fully appreciate the details and the depths of their masterpieces.
Go further with bespoke commissions from Rolls-Royce and Bovet 1822:
- Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Singapore: +65 6475 3113
- Bovet 1822
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