Co-branding fine goods like watches, jackets, and luggage is a worn out tactic of many car companies, eager to make a buck off the fan who wants more than a company’s four-wheeled products in their garage. Often the product you buy is some white-labeled offering from another company. The quality may be present, but it’s not a real joint effort in developing a new product—nor is it something that’s really worth your money.
But as I found out firsthand recently, Singer Vehicle Designs doesn’t mess around when it comes to quality or delivering an experience that’s worth every penny.
Singer’s famous now for crafting epic restorations of Porsche 911s. What you may not know is that they have a new project, focused on their take on the chronograph. While I was in California recently, I had a chance to visit with designer Marco Borraccino and Singer founder Rob Dickinson about this new collaboration.
Marco Borraccino has an extensive background in designing fine products, and first fell in love with watches when he caught a glimpse of the sport-classic watches of the 1960s and ’70s.
Back then, Tag Heuer and Zenith were names you saw on the sides of great race cars of that era. With work experience at Proctor & Gamble and Panerai, he started his own watch design consultancy in 2009. Marco is also the owner of a fine Porsche 993 C2S, and appreciates air-cooled Porsches, so he’s one of us.
Following how Dickinson and Singer created a reborn vision of the already great Porsche 964, in 2014 he reached out to Dickinson about this new concept he was working on with watches.
Borraccino emailed Dickinson, with no real hope of getting a reply, and told Rob how he loves the work he’s doing with Singer Vehicle Designs and that he’d love to come together on a watch designed for Singer. With the press you’ve all seen of Singer over the years, he assumed the email would be buried in Rob’s inbox. Instead, Dickinson got back to him within half an hour, excited to learn more.
In this case, there was an immediate connection between Borraccino and Dickinson, as they both loved Porsches, sport-classic chronos of the ’60s and ’70s, and were famous for paving new roads with their creative visions. To do this new watch, they both agreed it had to be different and brilliant to be successful.
This new concept featured a large dial, five central hands, a bezel with the illusion of movement, and centered with one scale. If you’re into watches, you’ll know this is no easy task in an automatic chronograph. Creating a new movement would prove to be the biggest challenge, and when you’re a small producer of watches, it is difficult to get a quality movement maker to give you something unique.
Borraccino went to several different movement makers, telling them all he had this new concept of a central movement for a watch for a car company. Many scoffed at this idea, told him it was impossible, and also had no interest in crafting a new movement for such a small production run car company.
Ultimately, Marco reached out to Jean-Marc Wiederrecht with Agenhor. Agenhor is well-known in the watch world for crafting watch movement that combines the old world trade of watch making with contemporary technology.
Instantly Jean-Marc clicked, as he was producing a new movement which was nearly seven years in development. The serendipity was abundant, as Borraccino told Wiederrecht about his new project with Dickinson and Singer, and he was ready to bring his new design to life. All that was missing was this movement.
Over the next three years, this team would tirelessly work to perfect a piece they could be proud of.
Singer calls this watch “Track 1" as a tribute to Dickinson’s former career as the frontman of 1990s alternative band Catherine Wheel, and an emphasis that this is just the beginning of their dive into watches and more than just cars.
With orange hands you may recognize from the look of earlier Porsche 911s, it has a contemporary look that isn’t too complicated. The watch measures up to 60 hours, which is more than three times the ordinary chronograph. Sixty is also the number of hours this automatic movement offers in reserve power, allowing five days without needing to be rewound.
The center three dials are the stopwatch hours, minutes, and seconds indications. You’ll also notice that the time of day is indicated by the outside rings, which move accordingly, rather than with typical central hands.
With 447 parts and 67 jewels, this movement is a pretty insane. The 43mm titanium case is perfectly sized, and feels much lighter on my wrist than anticipated. The strap is made from calf black leather on the outside, a green khaki alligator lining, contains brushed titanium rivets, and has a continues the grade 5 brushed titanium trend with its pin buckle.
Much like their revamped 911s, Singer focuses on the details with this watch, and it is obvious when you take a closer look.
No, it’s not cheap. Did you expect it to be?
At $40,000 apiece, Singer expressed that they have lined up several clients to buy the first 50 launch edition models produced. I’m probably not one of them. But I do dig what’s going on here, and I feel like it’s a good example of how to do branded stuff right, and not in the bad and stupid way it’s normally done. I expected no less from the company that created the best car I’ve ever driven.