Auctions and Exhibitions

Mechanical Marvels: Watch and Car Pairings that Epitomize Innovation

By Paul Altieri

F or anyone with an interest in rare, extraordinary or classic cars, the annual RM Sotheby’s: Monterey auction (15–17 August, Monterey) is the must-attend event of the year. The 2019 sale features an exceptional lineup of automobiles from the most renowned car marques, including a model heralded as “the most famous car in the world.” In collaboration with Bob’s Watches, Sotheby’s is also presenting Watches Online: The Driver’s Collection (14–20 August, Online) an exclusive sale of timepieces to be offered alongside the 2019 RM Sotheby’s Monterey auction. As one of the world’s leading purveyors of rare, extraordinary and vintage timepieces, Bob’s Watches is supplying a lineup of 18 exceptional examples that will be on display at the RM Sotheby’s Monterey event and available for purchase online. A love of cars and mechanical watches often go hand-in-hand. While these two machines differ significantly in size, at their core both encompass the expert balance of beautiful design, intricate mechanics and hands-on utility. Below discover parallels between 16 striking watches and cars on offer.

Rolex Submariner 6538 “James Bond” & 1965 Aston Martin DB5 “Bond Car”


In 1964 Goldfinger hit the silver screen as the third film in the James Bond series. This was also the third time Sean Connery reprised his role as 007 but another star graced the movie for the first time – the Aston Martin DB5 car. That was the beginning of a relationship between Aston Martin and James Bond films that would eventually span a dozen movies over five decades.

The association between Rolex and James Bond movies goes back even further than that of Aston Martin, when 007 straps on a Submariner 6538 in the very first film, Dr. No (1962). Bond continued to wear the Submariner 6538 over the next three films: From Russia with Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), and Thunderball (1965). A “James Bond” Rolex Submariner 6538 is an early example of the company’s now-famous diving watch, first introduced in 1955 and only produced until 1959. Ian Fleming, the author who wrote the James Bond novels, explicitly penned that James Bond drove an Aston Martin car and wore a Rolex watch. And thanks to Eon Productions, that vision continued from the original book pages to the big screen.

Rolex Submariner 1680 & 1962 Ferrari 250 California SWB Spider By Scaglietti

Both the Ferrari 250 California SWB Spider and the Rolex Submariner Date 1680 managed to retain the professional specifications of their forebearers, yet their respective brands added just the right modifications to appeal to a broader audience. Plus, the duo also has the benefit of flaunting their signature red shades.

In the late 1950s, a California-based Ferrari dealer named John Von Neumann noted to the U.S. Ferrari agent that a convertible 250 GT Berlinetta Tour de France would be an ideal model to drive around in the Golden State. The car would retain its performance-bred specs, yet featured a stylish drop-top design with space for two plus luggage. Ferrari built 106 of the iconic California Spider model from 1957 to 1963; the first 50 with a long- wheelbase 250 GT chassis and the remaining with a short wheelbase (SWB) like this Rosso example here from 1962 – number 55 out of 56.

Rolex first launched the Submariner in 1953 as a watch built explicitly for use underwater by scuba divers. For the first 16 years that the Submariner was in production, Rolex stayed true to the Submariner’s tool watch status by enhancing design aspects that would serve divers. However, in 1969, Rolex introduced the very first Submariner with a date complication, signaling a turn towards a wider consumer base outside the scuba diving crowd.

Patek Philippe Nautilus 3710/1A & 1994 McLaren F1 ‘LM-Specification’


Characterized by refined yet sporty designs, technical innovations, and ultra exclusivity, the McLaren F1 “LM Spec” and the Patek Philippe Nautilus 3710/1A have both played a hand in shaping the modern landscape of their respective fields.

When renowned car designer Gordon Murray was told “to build the perfect production sports car, without limitations,” he did just that in the form of the McLaren F1. Production began in 1992 and McLaren only built 64 production examples of the F1 road car through 1997. Although the F1 was conceived and developed as a road car, dedicated clients of the brand eventually persuaded the British automaker to make versions built to racing specs. The F1 GTR soon joined the lineup, and it went on to win a slew of races including the 1995 Le Mans.

Designed by legendary watch designer Gerald Genta and launched by Patek Philippe in 1976, the Nautilus is one of the most important watch designs of the 20th Century. According to the designer himself, it took him about five minutes to sketch out the concept while at a restaurant during the Basel Trade Fair. It was particularly groundbreaking for its time because the Nautilus was a brash stainless steel sports watch equipped with a simple time and date movement, which was audaciously priced as much as a solid gold complicated dress watch. Today a stainless steel Patek Nautilus is perhaps the most difficult current production luxury watch to source since demand far outpaces supply.

Rolex GMT-Master 1675 & 1985 Ferrari 308 GTS Quattrovalvole

Ferrari introduced the 308 in 1975 to replace the Dino, and in 1982 the automaker unveiled the 308 GTS Quattrovalvole at the Paris Motor Show with four valves per cylinder. This example is finished in Rosso Corsa (aka racing red) over a tan leather interior – the quintessential Ferrari style. The Ferrari 308 cemented its place in popular culture as the car Thomas Magnum (played by Tom Selleck) drove around for eight seasons of the popular television series Magnum, P.I.

Rolex launched the GMT-Master 1675 in 1959 to take over the inaugural 6542 model. The second generation of Rolex’s famous pilot’s watch was in production until 1980. Due to its long production run, the GMT-Master 1675 can be found with a wide assortment of variations, but the red and blue “Pepsi” bezel, as seen here is the ultimate classic choice. Similar to the Ferrari 308, the GMT-Master 1675 also had a starring role in Magnum, P.I., joining the show in season 4 based on a storyline about Magnum inheriting his father’s GMT-Master Pepsi when he was a young boy. Magnum P.I. wore the GMT-Master 1675 throughout the remainder of the series, and Tom Selleck even kept the watch after the series finale.

Omega Speedmaster 2998-1 & 1939 Porsche Type 64


The Type 64 is the predecessor to all contemporary Porsche cars, and the Omega ref. 2998 is the archetype to the modern Speedmaster. Both foundational models served as the blueprints for the design codes of their respective brands, inspiring modern and instantly-recognizable versions that are still sold today.

One of the most historically important cars ever produced, this Porsche Type 64 is one of three examples made and the only to still exist. After working on the Volkswagen Type 1 (aka Type 60), Ferdinand Porsche was ordered by the National Socialist Motor Corps (NSKK) to develop a sports car based upon the Beetle design to compete in a race from Berlin to Rome. The race never happened due to World War II, but the first Type 64 did emerge. Ferdinand Porsche and later his son, Ferry Porsche used this example of the Type 64 as their personal car.

As the second generation of the Speedmaster, the Omega Speedmaster 2998 model cemented a handful of design details that would go on to become signatures of the famed chronograph. Importantly the Ref. 2998 was the first Speedmaster reference to journey to space worn by Wally Schirra during the Mercury 8 flight in 1962. This was of course the onset of the Speedmaster’s long association with NASA and space exploration, including the historic Apollo 11 Lunar Landing in 1969.

Rolex Submariner 16610LV & 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 Touring

The Porsche 911 RS Touring and the Rolex Submariner are some of the most iconic products in modern history. Yet, for those who like to stand out, the yellow and green 911 RS and the green Sub offer vibrant and sporty takes on the classics.

Introduced at the 1972 Paris Auto Salon, the Porsche 911 Carrera RS (“Rennsport” or racing sport in German) was an upgraded version of the 911 S, complete with a 2.7-liter engine, larger wheels, flared rear quarter panels and a “ducktail” rear spoiler, to compete in the World Championship of Makes. The first group of 500 cars sold out so quickly that the automaker had to produce two more batches. The latter two batches had a majority of “Touring” models, as seen here.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Submariner model in 2003, Rolex introduced the Submariner 16610LV with a green colored aluminum bezel and a black dial. This was the very first time Rolex fitted a green bezel (or “Lunette Verte” in French) on a Submariner; as such, the 11610LV has since picked up the “Kermit” nickname among collectors. Aside from the colorful bezel, the watch retains the familiar Submariner design details from the stainless steel 40mm Oyster case (water-resistant to 300 meters) to the black dial with luminous Mercedes-style hands and hour markers.

Rolex Daytona 6263 & 1971 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Berlinetta By Scaglietti


Both named after the “World Center of Racing” and fiercely sought-after by collectors, the Ferrari Daytona and the Rolex Daytona make quite the adrenaline-fueled combination.

When it made its debut at the 1968 Paris Salon, the Ferrari 365 GTB/4’s design stood out for its stark difference from its predecessors, boasting more angular lines and aggressive styling. The design shift proved to be a solid strategy for the automaker, as the newest twelve-cylinder grand tourer Ferrari quickly gained favor within the automotive community. Another thing the car gained was the nickname “Daytona” thanks to Ferrari’s epic 1-2-3 sweep of the 24 Hours of Daytona the year prior. This particular Ferrari 365 GTB/4 “Daytona” was built in 1971 and has been meticulously cared for by four owners.

When Rolex launched its new chronograph model in 1963, the Swiss watchmaker dubbed the watch “Cosmograph.” However, it was not long before Rolex officially added the name “Daytona” to the watch to emphasize the company’s ties to the famous Speedway racetrack in Florida and the Cosmograph Daytona’s motorsport-inspired spirit. This particular ref. 6263 is especially intriguing (and collectible) for the lack of the Daytona label anywhere on the dial despite it belonging to the famed Rolex Daytona family.

Heuer Autavia 1163 & 1964 Shelby 289 Cobra

Both the Shelby Cobra car and the Heuer Autavia watch benefitted from developments made only possible by strong partnerships. What’s more, this duo also carries the names of two race car drivers that made permanent marks in the world of motorsports.

In 1961 retired race car driver Carroll Shelby struck a deal with British company AC Cars to install a new, compact Ford V-8 engine into small roadsters at his shop in Venice, California, and the legendary Cobra was born. CSX 2216 left the UK in 1963 headed for Shelby American, where it received the 289 cubic inch Ford power train and being delivered to its first owner. Always well cared for it was recently restored to its completely correct and authentic original configuration and remains an outstanding example of the spirited American sports car

The Heuer Autavia 1163 was one of the first chronographs to be powered by the pioneering Caliber 11 self-winding chronograph movement. That groundbreaking automatic chronograph movement was developed through an alliance between Heuer, Breitling, Hamilton, Dubois- Depraz and Buren. This particular example with a white dial, black sub-dials, and blue chronograph hand is nicknamed the “Jo Siffert” because the late legendary Swiss race car driver (and Heuer’s first official brand ambassador) wore one.

Rolex Explorer 1016 & 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB Alloy By Scaglietti


Both born in the 1960s and both merging top-notch performance and perfectly proportional design, the Ferrari 275 GTB and the Explorer 1016 have evolved into collectible classics in their respective spaces.

In 1964, Ferrari unveiled the 275 GTB to replace the legendary 250 series. The automaker
ensured that the 275 GTB was the most cutting-edge Ferrari road car available at the time. Both road and competition ready, the dual- purpose Ferrari 275 GTB was equally suited to city lanes and race tracks. This particular 275 GTB from 1966 boasts an aluminum body, which was the most coveted factory option, thanks to the material’s lightweight nature and ties to competition cars.

Rolex introduced the Explorer 1016 in 1963 to replace the preceding Explorer ref. 6610, and the watchmaker went on to manufacture this reference for roughly 30 years. Due to its long production run, the Explorer 1016 exists with several dial finishes and this particular example from 1979 features the sought-after matte black dial. The Explorer line was inspired by Sir Edmund Percival Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s historic summit of Mount Everest in 1953. As such, the watch had to not only look good but had to perform under extreme conditions too, and Rolex continuously sought to improve the collection over the years.

Rolex Sea-Dweller 126603 & 2017 Pagani Huayra Roadster

Brash, sporty and unapologetically luxurious, the Pagani Huayra Roadster and the Rolex Sea-Dweller 126603 each offer a fresh take on the signature models that they are based upon.

In 2017 Pagani unleashed the third body style of the Huayra in the form of the Huayra Roadster. With only 100 units made, all examples of the Huayra Roadster were already sold when the car was unveiled to the public. Since this is a convertible model, the Huayra’s signature gullwing doors had to be replaced with conventional ones. This particular example, 94/100, flaunts an exquisite fully exposed Black Mamba carbon fiber bodywork exterior paired with a diamond style stitched red leather interior.

Brand new to the Rolex catalog is the Sea-Dweller 126603, which made its debut at Baselworld 2019. A truly modern iteration of Rolex’s professional saturation diving watch, the 126603 not only features the new larger 43mm case size but for the first time in the company’s history, this is a Sea-Dweller that sports a two-tone 18k yellow gold and 904L stainless steel construction. This is the second style of the bigger Sea-Dweller model, and thanks to its 18k yellow gold touches, it is by far the most extravagant.

Rolex Explorer II 1655 & 1965 Ford GT40 Roadster Prototype


Aside from the fact that the Ford GT40 and the Explorer II were each built with specific goals in mind, they also share a link to Steve McQueen. The Explorer II 1655 is frequently called the “Steve McQueen” Rolex since it was once erroneously reported that the King of Cool wore one. However, it turns out that McQueen did not actually own a ref. 1655 and instead actually wore a Submariner. Nevertheless the nickname stuck. McQueen used a Gulf liveried Ford GT40 as a camera car for his Le Mans (1971) film to keep up with the pace of the racing shots.

The Ford GT40 was famously developed with the sole purpose to beat Ferrari. It cemented its place in automotive history by winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans for four consecutive years from 1966 to 1969. But before the production examples achieved those victories, there were the model’s early development cars: twelve prototypes in total, including this eighth example (GT/108), which also happens to be the first roadster prototype to join after the first seven coupes.

Rolex introduced the Explorer II ref. 1655 in 1971, purposely built to serve the spelunking community. The watch was equipped with a 24-hand and a fixed 24-hour marked bezel to allow wearers to differentiate between A.M. and P.M. hours after extended periods inside dark caves. The Explorer II 1655, which was produced until 1985, is often referred to by the nickname “Freccione” (Italian for “arrow”) thanks to the shape of its large orange 24-hour hand.

Rolex Submariner 116610LN & 2011 Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0

Both sharply dressed in black and silver and each sporting a design language that is recognized the world over, the Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0 and the Rolex Submariner 116610LN are modern executions of cherished classics.

The swan song of the 997 generation of 911s, Porsche only made 600 examples of the 911 GT3 RS 4.0 – unquestionably establishing the car’s status as a future collectible. Its 4-liter engine was the most powerful naturally aspirated flat-six built by Porsche at the time of its release in 2011. This particular example, serial no. 009, stands out for being the most expensive example made – built for comedian and avid Porsche collector Jerry Seinfeld.

First introduced in 2010, the 116610LN is the current iteration of Rolex’s beloved stainless steel Submariner dive watch. Although it retains the same Caliber 3135 automatic movement and 40mm case diameter as its predecessor, the contemporary Submariner also featured plenty of updates. The biggest difference between the 116610LN and previous steel Submariners is the use of Cerachrom (ceramic) for its unidirectional rotating dive bezel rather than aluminum. Although the 116610LN has been a part of the Rolex catalog for almost a decade, they are still almost impossible to find in stores due to their extreme popularity and long waitlists.

Rolex Daytona 116500LN & 2005 Porsche Carrera GT


While Porsche was in the midst of developing a new Le Mans prototype for the 1999 racing season, a rule change caused the automaker to abandon the project. However, rather than shelving the new 5.7 liter V-10 engine, Porsche decided to build a car to accommodate it and the Carrera GT was unveiled as a concept car at the 2000 Paris Motor Show. In 2003, the production Carrera GT arrived, roaring from 0 to 60 in four seconds and topping out at around 200 mph. It was the fastest road-going Porsche of its time and had a stunning sleek design to match.

2016 was an exciting year for Rolex as the Swiss watchmaker unveiled the much-anticipated stainless steel Daytona 116500LN fitted with a ceramic bezel. The new chronograph model was an immediate success thanks to its seamless combination of a vintage-inspired design executed using modern materials. The tachymeter-marked black bezel of the 116500LN recalls those found on vintage Daytona chronographs, yet they are fashioned from Rolex’s patented scratch and fade resistant ceramic alloy, dubbed Cerachrom. Like all automatic Daytona chronographs, the 116500LN runs on the in-house Caliber 4130 self- winding mechanical movement, prized for its smooth chronograph operation and precise timekeeping.

Rolex Daytona 16523 & 1985 Ferrari 288 GTO

Both born in the 1980s, the 288 GTO was the first Ferrari supercar, and the Daytona 16523 represents the first family of self-winding Rolex chronograph watches. This duo of “firsts” helped define their respective brands and paved the way for a long line of models that came after.

To follow in the footsteps of the legendary 250 GTO, Ferrari pulled out all the stops for the 288 GTO. The 288 GTO was the fastest road car ever produced when it debuted. This example was the 137th Ferrari 288 GTO built (out of a total of 272 examples made from 1984 to 1987), and it came fitted with some of the best factory options available, including radio, power windows, air-conditioning, red seat inserts and the Ansa sport exhaust.

First introduced in 1988, the 165xx series of Rolex Daytona watches was the first automatic version of the company’s signature chronograph collection. The mechanical movement tasked to power the watches, the Caliber 4030, was a highly modified version of the automatic Zenith El Primero chronograph movement. The Daytona 16523 was the two-tone edition of the “El Primero Daytona” lineup, featuring a stainless steel and 18k yellow gold case and bracelet, and topped with an 18k yellow gold tachymeter bezel.

Rolex GMT-Master II 126710BLNR & 2019 McLaren Senna

Not only do the McLaren Senna and the Rolex GMT-Master II 126710BLNR share a similar colorway, but these are also some of the newest products to come out of the automaker’s and watchmaker’s factories, filled to the rim (and bezel) with their latest and greatest technologies.

The third addition to McLaren’s “Ultimate Series”, the Senna joined the P1 and the F1 when it made its debut at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show. Taking its name from the late Ayrton Senna in honor of his trio of F1 World Championship (while behind the wheel of McLaren cars), the Senna was developed to be the most track-focused road car the automaker has ever made. The Senna houses the most powerful engine ever installed in a McLaren road car, and it accelerates from 0–62 mph in 2.8 seconds and 0–124 mph in just 6.8 seconds.

At Baselworld 2019, Rolex released its latest stainless steel GMT-Master II model, the 126710BLNR, donning the coveted blue and black ceramic bezel. This is the second generation of this particular GMT-Master II model, nicknamed the “Batman” by collectors. However, the GMT- Master has a history that dates back to the 1950s when the Swiss watchmaker set out to create a watch specifically for Pan Am pilots to simultaneously keep track of reference time and local time as they flew across the skies.

Rolex GMT-Master II 126710BLRO & 1961 Ferrari 400 Superamerica SWB Coupe Aerodinamico

Even after six decades since they were first introduced, the Superamerica and the GMT-Master stand out as some of the best designs to come out of Ferrari and Rolex.

The Superamerica and Superfast series of cars were reserved for only the wealthiest of clients given their eye-popping price tags. Only a total of 17 examples of the 400 Superamerica SWB Coupe Aerodinamico were built. Considered as one of Pininfarina’s greatest designs, the elegant and streamlined silhouette of the Superamerica Coupe Aerodinamico stood out for its tapered nose and tail. This exact example graced the cover of the April 1963 issue of Car and Driver.

The GMT-Master II line received a major update in 2018, when Rolex unveiled the ref. 126710BLRO. Its release marked the first time a ceramic red and blue “Pepsi” bezel was made available on a stainless steel model. The 126710BLRO unmistakably echoes the design cues of the very first GMT-Master model from the 1950s. Aside from the modern Cerachrom ceramic bezel and an updated Jubilee bracelet developed specifically for this model, the 126710BLRO also runs on the next-generation Caliber 3285 movement.

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