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Feature: You’ll be surprised at the brands that have made Ferrari watches

Over the last forty years, Ferrari has been like catnip to luxury watch brands who have clamoured to be associated with the fabled Italian sports car manufacturer.

You can see the appeal. Aside from Ferrari’s glamour and unrivalled motoring heritage, there are numerous parallels between high-end cars and timepieces, among them mechanical prowess, aesthetic beauty and their cachet as status symbols.

As the most famous sports car manufacturer in the world, with a hugely successful Formula One team to enhance its iconic aura, it’s no wonder Ferrari is so lusted after.

If it was using a dating app, its phone would spontaneously combust from all the ‘like’ notifications from admiring watchmakers.

You might even say Ferrari has been a tad promiscuous over the years, bed-hopping between several of the industry’s biggest names. But while you might flinch at its inability to remain faithful to one brand for very long, you’ve got to admit, Ferrari has exceptional taste in partners.

The Horse Is Out Of The Stable

After a brief flirtation with Omega in the 1970s, during which the prancing horse logo appeared on several models—from simple time-and-date quartz Seamasters to the oval-cased Dynamics range—Ferrari entered the era of the quartz crisis without any solid brand affiliation.

It wasn’t until the early 90s, when the future of mechanical watches looked more optimistic, that Ferrari formed its first serious collaboration with a Swiss watchmaker.

A Girard-Perregaux Ferrari chronograph

A Girard-Perregaux Ferrari chronograph

When former Italian racing car driver Luigi Macaluso took over at Girard-Perregaux in the early 90s, he contacted his personal friend Luca Montezemolo, then boss of Ferrari, with the aim of forging a partnership.

Between 1994 and 2004, the brand released a wide range of Ferrari-inspired watches, usually round triple-subdial chronographs with the prancing horse displayed prominently on the dial. It was to be Ferrari’s longest relationship to date.

The Panerai Era

In 2006 Panerai and Ferrari announced their five-year collaboration in an all-Italian marriage made in heaven. Or so it seemed. But the Panerai Ferrari watches never actually carried the Panerai name on the dial, despite coming in the classic Panerai cushion-shaped cases and using the same movements as other Panerai watches.

A Panerai Ferrari chronograph

A Panerai Ferrari chronograph

The Panerai-Ferrari era was characterised by chronographs in signature Ferrari colours, with dashboard-style aesthetics and high-quality movements that were made by Valjoux, ETA and Minerva.

Hublot Steps In

Firmly establishing itself in the sporting world, Hublot took over the baton in 2011, announcing its relationship with Ferrari in November of that year, before delivering its debut model a year later. With Ferrari, Hublot has done what its always done – namely release a series of limited editions that have drawn on the brand’s expertise in using unorthodox lightweight materials and innovative dial designs.

This Hublot celebrated 20 years of Ferrari being in China. Image courtesy of Bonhams.

This Hublot celebrated 20 years of Ferrari being in China. Image courtesy of Bonhams.

In nine years it has released no less than 70 Ferrari models, including the space-age-looking MP-05 “LaFerrari”, which looks more like a mini car engine than a watch.

Richard Mille Takes Over

Earlier this year, Richard Mille, known for making “racing machines for the wrist” announced it had signed up with Ferrari, saying in a press release. “Both brands forge their inspiration in the white heat of technology, combining age-old know-how with cutting-edge, state-of-the-art innovation.”

Ferrari drivers wearing Richard Mille watches

Ferrari drivers wearing Richard Mille watches

It seems like a good fit, given the close ties Richard Mille already has with the sporting world. However, just like Rafa Nadal and the brand’s other ambassadors, Ferrari’s F1 drivers will no doubt be required to wear their watches when they’re hurtling around the track. We're sure the timepieces will be well up to the task.