Bovet Rolls-Royce Boat Tail: Bespoke His And Hers Unique Timepieces For The Dashboard, Wrist, And Desktop
by Martin Green
There was a time when handcrafted coachbuilding was common practice. Esteemed names in the automobile industry like Rolls-Royce would sell an engine and a chassis, which the client would then take to a coachbuilder to be transformed into a complete car.
While the outcome was highly individual, it cost a lot of time and effort – and therefore money. As the production of cars became more and more standardized and automated, car manufacturers also turned into proper brands. This made it essential for them to fully control the look and feel of their cars, something in which increasingly stringent safety regulations also played a role.
Many coachbuilders didn’t make it into the second half of the twentieth century. Others were bought by brands, like Park Ward, which in 1939 became part of Rolls-Royce.
Fast forward to 2021 and the higher echelons of car manufacturing, where the skills associated with custom coachbuilding have not been forgotten: they have been integrated into regular production lines, ensuring a very high quality of the mass-produced lines and allowing for bespoke options for discerning clients.
While this is great, the true coachbuilt experience has become a scarce treat. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. Ferrari is known to grant a few very loyal clients the privilege of owning a one-off car.
The best-known example is perhaps the SP12 EC, which was made for longtime Ferrari aficionado Eric Clapton. The car was an homage to the Berlinetta Boxer, which the guitar player owned several of, an automobile that also graced the inside cover of his album Slowhand.
When you have all the time in the world: Bovet and Rolls-Royce
With the introduction of this new Rolls-Royce, the Breitling dashboard clock with tourbillon available in the Bentley Bentayga is dethroned as the most exclusive piece of contemporary automobile horology.
Working very closely with Bovet, the bespoke Rolls-Royce Boat Tail comes with two custom-made watches that can be placed into a special holder in the car to serve as dashboard clocks.
For Bovet, this is almost a natural development as these watches feature special versions of the Amadeo case, allowing them to be quickly and easily transformed from wristwatch to pocket watch, pendant, or desk clock.
However, that doesn’t mean that it was an easy exercise for the brand as crafting a holder for the car to fit the watches meant that the watchmaker had to comply with car safety regulations; quite new territory for Bovet. In total, more than 3,000 hours were invested in developing and making the two watches and their holder.
The result is impressive as both watches cleverly combine both the DNA of Rolls-Royce and Bovet. This gives the watches a certain purity despite their highly customized nature.
Both watches share the same tourbillon movement and display hours and minutes on both sides with a power reserve on the front. The two watches commissioned by the couple who ordered the Boat Tail differ in details, but not in size. This is somewhat surprising as its diameter of 44 mm is already generous, even for most male wrists.
Both watches feature the famous Spirit of Ecstasy sculpture on the front that adorns the radiator grille of all Rolls-Royces, now guarding the one-minute tourbillon. Above it, there is a stunning marquetry dial made of the same Caleidolegno veneer used to craft the “aft deck” of the Boat Tail. The veneer finish features the Bovet logo, name of the car, and the words “A special timepiece commission for” followed by the names of the owners (the latter not visible on the photos).
This might look cool on the treadplates of your Rolls, but on the dial I think it is too much of a distraction from the beauty of the timepieces. However, as these are custom-made to the taste of the owners, my opinion (or anybody else’s) does not matter in the least. Such pieces are created to appeal only to the owner, and that is both the beauty and the privilege of owning such an object.
While the case of the wife’s timepiece is beautifully engraved and filled in with lacquer, her husband’s watch is highly polished.
More differences between them can be found on the reverse side, where the lady’s version boasts a dial with a stunning miniature painting of flowers on mother-of-pearl inspired by a vintage Bovet timepiece. It is almost a pity that that is partially covered by a hand-engraved profile view of the automobile. The teams of Bovet and Rolls-Royce worked closely together to ensure that the lacquer used here perfectly matches that of the car .
The reverse-side dial of the man’s watch is made of aventurine and features a sky chart showing the stars as they were at the time and location of his birth. This dial is also partially covered by the engraving of the Rolls-Royce Boat Tail.
As a sign of their interconnection, the gentleman’s name is engraved on the tourbillon bridge of the woman’s watch, and vice versa (not visible here).
While it is very unlikely that this couple doesn’t own any other watches, it is good to know that both of these Bovet models boast a power reserve of five days. While this is already convenient in everyday life, it is even more convenient when the watches are serving their purposes as car clocks.
It is all in the details
To truly take this whole project to the next level, when the watches are not fitted the holder in the Rolls-Royce may be covered by an engraved and lacquered plaque of the watches.
Below the clock there is a special drawer that contains both the timepieces as well as the chain and straps so that they can be converted into whatever mode the owner wishes. This not only gives new meaning to the term coachbuilding but also to luxury as a whole.
For more information, please visit www.bovet.com/rolls-royce.
Quick Facts Bovet Rolls-Royce Boat Tail
Case: 44 x 14 mm, white gold
Movement: manual-wind caliber with one-minute tourbillon, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency, five-day power reserve
Functions: side one: hours, minutes; side two: minutes, seconds; power reserve indication
Men’s front dial: handmade wood marquetry dial; hand-engraved Spirit of Ecstasy sculpture fixed to the tourbillon bridge; “A Special Timepiece Commission” on the dial
Women’s front dial: handmade wood marquetry dial; hand-engraved white gold Spirit of Ecstasy sculpture; “A Special Timepiece Commission” on the dial
Men’s reverse dial: blue aventurine with sky chart of owner’s birthday and birthplace; hand-engraved bespoke Boat Tail sculpture lacquered to match the color of the car then miniature painted by hand to add the details; lady’s name engraved on the mirror-polished tourbillon bridge
Women’s reverse dial: miniature hand-painting of flower bouquet on mother-of-pearl dial; hand-engraved bespoke Boat Tail sculpture lacquered to match the color of the car then miniature painted by hand to add the details; gentleman’s name engraved on the mirror-polished tourbillon bridge
Limitation: one of each
Price: not for sale, a unique pair commissioned for the coachbuilt Rolls-Royce Boat Tail