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THE ROLLS-ROYCE BOAT TAIL TIMEPIECES: AN ARTISTIC COLLABORATION WITH BOVET 1822

THE ROLLS-ROYCE BOAT TAIL TIMEPIECES: AN ARTISTIC COLLABORATION WITH BOVET 1822

Rolls-Royce Boat Tail is a pure expression of its owners’ interests, influences and passions, with every detail minutely considered. We have enjoyed working with BOVET 1822 to create a pair of exquisite timepieces that also serve as Boat Tail’s dashboard clocks. In doing so we have together created historically significant items of detail, precision, and beauty.

  • Rolls-Royce collaborates with Swiss master horologists BOVET 1822 to create unique timepieces for first Boat Tail coachbuilt commission
  • Pair of reversible tourbillon timepieces, each designed to be worn on the wrist, used as a table clock, pendant or pocket timepiece, or placed within the fascia as Boat Tail’s Timepiece
  • Timepieces and dashboard holder took 3,000 hours to develop and manufacture
  • Five-day power reserve and tourbillon mechanism ensure the timepieces keep perfect time when used as dashboard clocks

“Rolls-Royce Boat Tail is a pure expression of its owners’ interests, influences and passions, with every detail minutely considered. We have enjoyed working with BOVET 1822 to create a pair of exquisite timepieces that also serve as Boat Tail’s dashboard clocks. In doing so we have together created historically significant items of detail, precision, and beauty. These remarkable objets d’art, unique to the first iteration of Boat Tail, represent the finest examples of the skills and values shared by our two great luxury Houses.”
Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

“I am so proud of the BOVET 1822 team, who worked in tandem with their counterparts at Rolls-Royce to produce something truly spectacular. The owners of the coachbuilt car, and these bespoke timepieces, are personal friends, as well as valued collectors of BOVET 1822. It was important to do the very best for them – two completely unique pieces that are unlike anything we have ever done before.”
Pascal Raffy, Owner, BOVET 1822


A MOMENT IN TIME

The clock in a Rolls-Royce motor car frequently assumes a jewel-like status, often becoming a canvas for the client to tell the story of their commission in miniature. For Rolls-Royce Boat Tail, the recently unveiled, first of three, coachbuilt creations, in which every element has been created to the owners’ exact specifications, this iconic centrepiece has been elevated to new technical and aesthetic heights.

In a spirit of warm collaboration, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars and Swiss master watchmakers, BOVET 1822, have created a pair of unique timepieces for Boat Tail and its owners. This ambitious undertaking brought together designers, engineers and craftspeople from both luxury Houses, in a magnificent demonstration of their shared values of excellence, precision, heritage, artistry, innovation and attention to detail.

The timepieces are unique to both the horological and automotive worlds. Made as a pair – in lady’s and gentleman’s versions – they are reversible, and housed in BOVET 1822’s patented Amadeo case, which allows them to be worn on the wrist, or used as a table clock, pendant or pocket-watch, as well as being placed front and centre in Boat Tail’s fascia as the motor car’s own timepiece. Both are fitted with tourbillon mechanisms to ensure perfect accuracy.

IN KEEPING WITH TRADITION

BOVET 1822 initially earned its reputation making luxury pocket-watches for wealthy patrons in China; today, it is renowned worldwide for its exquisite timepieces featuring hand-painted dials, detailed engraving and finely finished visible mechanisms.

The timepieces, created for this first iteration of Boat Tail, have specially designed 18K white gold cases and feature matching front dials with the same Caleidolegno veneer found on the aft deck of Boat Tail itself, and are finished with the owner-couples’ names. The gentleman’s timepiece is highly polished; the lady’s is ornately engraved then filled with blue lacquer.

On the reverse side, the dials are more individual. The gentleman’s features an aventurine dial with the celestial arrangement of the night sky over the place of his birth on his birth date; the lady’s is decorated with an ornate miniature painting of a flower bouquet on a mother-of-pearl dial. This design is a traditional BOVET 1822 motif, chosen by and personalised for the owner.

Both reverse dials have hand-engraved Bespoke sculptures of Boat Tail, complete with wheels, door handle, mirrors and other fine details. By working closely together, the teams at Rolls-Royce and BOVET 1822 were able to achieve a precise colour match between the lacquer on this tiny work of art and the full-size motor car.

Further close cooperation was required to ensure the timepieces conformed to the demands of their unique role as motor car clocks. In watchmaking, weight is rarely an issue for a complex timepiece, but in this instance, there was a limit on the combined permissible weight of the timepieces and their holders. BOVET 1822 met this requirement by creating an entirely new 44mm white gold case. In addition, the timepieces and holders also had to be tested to automotive-industry standards for vibration and crash safety – something never previously undertaken on mechanisms of this kind.

At a conservative estimate, the timepieces’ design, engineering, sculptures, miniature painting, marquetry, bespoke movements and cases took a total of 3,000 hours to complete.

THE TRANSFORMATIVE TOURBILLON

When a pocket-watch is left static in one position for any length of time, the effect of gravity on key moving parts can impair its accuracy. At the end of the 18th Century, watchmakers solved this problem by developing the tourbillon, where the escapement and balance wheel are mounted in a cage that slowly revolves, cancelling out the gravitational effect. In a wristwatch, the wearer’s natural physical movements diminish the need for the tourbillon. However, when that same timepiece is mounted vertically in a car dashboard for many hours at a time, the tourbillon truly comes into its own.

BOVET 1822 is a specialist in tourbillion timepieces, for which it holds a number of patents and has received many awards including the Aiguille d’Or, watchmaking’s highest honour. It is also one of the only companies in the watch industry to manufacture its own spirals and regulating organs. To reduce potential impact from the vibration from the car, the tourbillon has pivots rather than the traditional ball bearings; a heavier balance wheel and an increased oscillation rate to aid precision. Finally, the tourbillon bridge is finished with a miniaturised Spirit of Ecstasy handcrafted in gold.

The timepieces have an astonishing five-day power reserve, rather than the 42-48 hours of a ‘standard’ watch, to allow for their role as motor car clocks.

DASHBOARD HOLDER MECHANISM: PERFECT PRECISION 

The holder mechanism is unique to Rolls-Royce Boat Tail and was designed by BOVET 1822 engineers and the Rolls-Royce Coachbuild design team from a blank sheet of paper. Although in a Rolls-Royce vibration is naturally reduced to an absolute minimum – undetectable vibrations are inevitably still present. This highly complex mounting assembly serves to isolate the timepieces from these micro-vibrations. It also ensures they operate silently, are easy to mount and remove from the dashboard and, above all, remain safe and secure.

These challenges were unlike any normally encountered in watchmaking and car manufacture. From the start, BOVET 1822 was determined to follow a purely mechanical approach in keeping with its tradition of Swiss handcrafted production. The engineers’ innovative solution was to keep all the system’s moving parts external, with the dashboard providing a solid setting for the holder. Finally, Rolls-Royce ensured that when the holder is not housing one of the time pieces, it can be covered with a beautiful engraved and lacquered display plaque.  Below the clock, the dashboard is fitted with a special drawer, lined with the same leather as Boat Tail’s seats, which serves as a safekeeping receptacle to house the timepieces, straps, chain and pendant when not in use.

ROLLS-ROYCE BOAT TAIL TIMEPIECES FACTS & FIGURES

Case Size: Bespoke; diameter – 44mm; thickness – 14mm

Case Type: 18K white gold Fleurier case; BOVET 1822 bow at 12 o’clock; 49 components

Case Function: Amadeo Convertible System; reversible; pocket watch on chain; pendant watch on necklace; table clock; dashboard clock

Case Finishing: Men’s timepiece is high polish finish; Women’s timepiece is hand-engraved then filled with blue lacquer

Movement: Bespoke 60-second tourbillon; manual-wind; 284 components (without dial and hands); 21,600 v/h

Functions: Hours and minutes on both sides (reverse hand-fitting); power reserve indicator on front

Power Reserve: 5 days

Men’s Front Dial: Hand-made 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: Hand-made wood marquetry dial; hand-engraved 18K white gold Spirit of Ecstasy sculpture; “A Special Timepiece Commission” on the dial

Men’s Reverse Dial: Blue aventurine glass with sky chart of owner’s birth day and birth place; hand-engraved bespoke Boat Tail sculpture, lacquered to match the colour of the car then miniature painted by hand to add the details; lady’s name engraved on the mirror-polished (by hand by the watchmaker) tourbillon bridge

Women’s Reverse Dial: Miniature hand-painting of flower bouquet on mother-of-pearl dial (based on historical BOVET 1822 timepiece, customised); hand-engraved bespoke Boat Tail sculpture, lacquered to match the colour of the car then miniature painted by hand to add the details; gentleman’s name (engraved on the mirror-polished (by hand by the watchmaker) tourbillon bridge

Dashboard Holder: Aluminium and Titanium; 51 components; Engraving of two Rolls-Royce Boat Tails in a white gold case, to match that of the timepieces, to place inside when the timepiece is not present (100% engineered, designed, and produced in-house by BOVET)

In-car Drawer: to hold timepieces, straps, chain, necklace

Independent laboratory certification: shock, temperature, humidity, vibration

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1952 Ferrari Arno XI Racing Boat

1952 Ferrari Arno XI Racing Boat

You may not know it, but Ferrari powered a powerful Hydroplane back in the 1950s. It was built for one thing: breaking the World Speed Record on the water. Achille Castoldi, a racing champion, proposed such a boat to the one and only Enzo Ferrari who agreed to help him in the endeavor.

1952 Ferrari Arno XI Racing Boat

DESIGN

Arno XI was built to shatter the speed record in the 800-kg class. Achille Castoldi had been setting records on the water since 1940. To achieve the speed record, he commissioned Cantieri Timossi to build a 3-point hydroplane from hardwood, covered in a mahogany veneer. When Enzo heard he had painted the upper body in Ferrari Red, the Scuderia F1 team was sent to lend their expertise. This culminated in a world record in the flying kilometer: 150.49 mph, which still stands to this day.

1952 Ferrari Arno XI Racing Boat

1952 Ferrari Arno XI Racing Boat


POWER

Initially, Castoldi had planned to use a Ferrari engine, so he purchased a 4.5L V12. It was identical to the 385 horsepower “Lampredi” engine used in the Ferrari 375. Once Enzo realized he was going for the record, he sent his Chief Engineer along with a race-prepped Grand Prix engine. Stefano Meazza and a few of the Scuderia team members realized they needed more power. Using lessons learned on the track, they nearly doubled the compression ratio to handle methanol. A hotter spark was needed, so the distributors and coils were replaced by twin magnetos. Each cylinder had twin spark plugs to ensure a clean burn. It wasn’t enough, so two giant superchargers were driven by the crankshaft. Each one had its own Weber 4-Barell modified to dump meth into the engine with an air/fuel ratio of 5:1. What started at 385 horsepower made between 550 and 600 in race tune.

1952 Ferrari Arno XI Racing Boat

1952 Ferrari Arno XI Racing Boat


HISTORY

Once he broke the record, Castoldi built another boat for a different class. However, the engine exploded and he retired from racing. The Arno XI was sold to Nando dell’Orto, an engineer who revised the aerodynamics for better stability. After adding a few pounds, he came in 2nd place for the 900 kg class in 1965. It has since been seen occasionally at boat shows doing parade laps, and it led a peaceful retirement. But because it is the only boat to ever have been powered by Scuderia Ferrari, it is being completely restored by Ferrari Classiche.


Now, this Ferrari is for sale and looking for a new owner. It comes with a well-documented history file that includes hundreds of period photographs and handwritten notes from Ferrari’s engineers. The boat is currently being certified at Ferrari Classiche, and a copy of the U.I.M. record certification that attests to Achille Castoldi’s 1953 speed record is included as well. It is the ultimate Ferrari for the ultimate Ferrari collector.   

• Achille Castoldi’s famed Ferrari V-12 Timossi 800 kg class racing hydroplane • Reset the world speed record in its class on 15 October 1953, at 241.708 km/h • Beautifully and painstakingly restored; engine confirmed original by Ferrari S.p.A. • Accompanied by an extensive historical file, including a copy of the U.I.M. record certificate no. 329 and Nando Dell’Orto’s original racing logbook • Unique, instantly recognisable, achingly beautiful and immensely historic

The ‘three-point’ hydroplane, devised in America during the late 1930s by Adolph and Arno Apel of New Jersey’s Ventnor Boat Works, truly revolutionised speedboat design. Elegantly simple, the Apel design divided the ‘step’ portion of the hull into two pontoon-like surfaces, or sponsons, with each on opposite sides of the boat. The boat’s propeller acted as the ‘third point’ in the equation. The tunnel between the sponsons trapped air to generate aerodynamic lift, with only the sponsons and propeller in direct contact with the water whilst the boat was at speed.

Italy’s premier speedboat racer was Achille Castoldi, a cousin of M.C. 72 designer Mario Castoldi and a highly talented driver and engineer in his own right. Beginning in 1940 with his original ‘Arno’, a 400 kg-class boat with a Picciotti-built hull and Alfa Romeo Type 158 power, Castoldi reset the world speed record at 130.517 km/h (81.10 mph). Subsequent boats in the ‘Arno’ series followed, with most powered by Alfa Romeo and at least one Maserati-powered example, and he primarily competed in circuit-type hydroplane racing. After 1951, Castoldi ended his relationship with Alfa Romeo and changed his focus to world speed-record competition, now seeking a new engine supplier for an attempt on the 800 kg class world speed record.

Castoldi’s record preparations began in 1952, when he travelled to Maranello with his two close friends, famed racing champions Alberto Ascari and Luigi Villoresi, to order a Formula 1 specification V-12 engine from Ferrari. The blessing of Il Commendatore, Enzo Ferrari, was virtually assured since Castoldi had earlier managed to save a number of Alfetta 158 race cars during the war, keeping them hidden from the occupying German forces at his factory in Abbiategrasso, near Milan.

The Aurelio Lampredi-designed Tipo 375 V-12 engine, the same unit that powered Ferrari’s Grand Prix racing cars during 1951 and achieved Ferrari’s first ever World Championship Grand Prix win with Froilan Gonzalez in 1951 and helped Ascari to earn Ferrari the World Championship in 1952, was selected to power Castoldi’s new boat. It developed some 385 bhp with 12:1 compression and a dual-magneto ignition system, driving a twin-blade propeller via a gearbox at up to 10,000 propeller revolutions.

Castoldi’s boat, dubbed ‘Arno XI’, was built to a three-point hydroplane design by Timossi Azzano’s Cantieri Timossi boatyard located on Lake Como. A beautiful example of form and function in equal parts, the hydroplane featured a solid wood-framed structure skinned by marine-grade plywood with a mahogany veneer, a strong separate metal subframe chassis to cope with the enormous power and the engine cover and cockpit exterior appropriately finished in Rosso Corsa.

Once completed, ‘Arno XI’ was shaken down at the Campione d’Italia races in January 1953, with Castoldi reaching an unofficial top speed of 124 mph, prior to attempting an officially sanctioned two-way run. Castoldi’s main competitor, Mario Verga, who received the full factory support of Alfa Romeo, went on to set a new 800 kg class speed record of 202.26 km/h (125.68 mph) with his Alfa Romeo 159-powered boat, ‘Laura’. Adding emphasis, Verga reset the record just two weeks later with a two-way top speed of 226.50 km/h (140.74). Undaunted, Castoldi had the 4.5-litre Tipo 375 F1 V-12 engine rebuilt and highly modified, with official Ferrari support, including Stefano Meazza, Scuderia Ferrari’s chief race engineer who oversaw the engine preparations for Castoldi. This time, the already highly powerful Ferrari V-12 racing engine was tuned to operate on methanol, now allowing much higher engine compression, in conjunction with twin superchargers and twin four-choke carburettors, with power output now exceeding 600 bhp, representing a power increase of some 200 bhp over the original specification!

Once upgraded and readied for competition, Castoldi made his record attempt at Lake Iseo on the morning of 15 October 1953, with Alberto Ascari and Luigi Villoresi in attendance, clearly demonstrating Ferrari’s support of the project. Now, Castoldi finally achieved his objective, with ‘Arno XI’, by breaking the speed record in the 800 kg class with a two-way average speed in the flying kilometre of 241.708 km/h (150.19 mph). Later that day, Castoldi followed up with a new record in the 24 nautical mile event by achieving an average speed of 164.70 km/h (102.34 mph).

The year following these triumphs, Achille Castoldi survived a frightful engine failure in an aircraft engine-powered, 1,700 kg Cantieri Timossi-built hydroplane. The death of his racing nemesis, Mario Verga, soon followed in an unrelated hydroplane accident, and Castoldi retired from competition. His victorious ‘Arno XI’ was placed into storage for a few years prior to acquisition in 1958 by engineer and gentleman-driver Nando Dell’Orto, who ran it in the circuit championships, where it was pitted, amongst others, against the powerful Maserati 450S V-8 driven raceboats.

Under Dell’Orto, the silhouette of ‘Arno XI’ was continually updated by the Milan-based Carrozzeria Boneschi with a very original and more aggressive engine fairing with a “shark nose” intake and a large vertical stabilising fin at the rear. As revised, ‘Arno XI’ achieved several fastest-lap records and three titles, including the European Championship in 1963. Nando Dell’Orto retired from competition in 1968, leaving ‘Arno XI’ in the huge warehouse of his paper-manufacturing plant located in the Milanese suburbs. It is here that this famous racing hydroplane was located and saved from oblivion. A painstaking restoration of this historic, record-setting hydroplane was commissioned by the new owner in the early 1990s. Photos of the boat before and during restoration are available for review in the history file

. The glorious V-12 engine was returned to Maranello, where it revived fond memories for several mechanics who had first worked on it in 1953. Engine work included the rebuilding of the two overhead camshafts and replacement of all the valves, whilst the manufacturer’s workshop reconditioned the dual four-choke carburettors. Not one vital mechanical part escaped scrutiny and appropriate treatment, including the twin superchargers that made this unique Ferrari 375 F1 engine capable of, in fact, producing up to 700 bhp during a bench test after its rebuild. However, it should also be noted that it was converted, at this time, to run on 100 Octane unleaded fuel rather than methanol to improve reliability and usability.

As for the hull, the Bisoli boatyard, located in Sirmione on Lake Garda, checked and restored the entire structure. Laminated panels were specially ordered from Canada for the construction of a new deck, a must for racers that are put under severe strain, as it contributes greatly to the rigidity of the hull. Particular care was taken in the restoration of the steering system, propeller shaft and the razor-sharp twin-blade propeller, whose speed can exceed more than 10,000 rpm. Nando Dell’Orto had exchanged the steering wheel in 1958, but thankfully, he retained the old Bugatti four-spoke steering wheel used by Achille Castoldi during his world-record attempts, and this is the same one that is mounted on the boat today.

Once carefully restored and impressively presented in its period and now in its most highly developed form under the ownership of Nando Dell’Orto, ‘Arno XI’ has returned to the water for spirited runs since 2004, and it has received honours from the Galleria Ferrari, having been welcomed by Piero Ferrari, who warmly congratulated the craft’s present owner for the thoroughness, authenticity and high quality of the restoration of this unique, record-setting Ferrari V-12-powered hydroplane racer, an effort truly commensurate with the stature of this legendary craft. The hard work has included years of extensive historical research to collect a truly rich body of documentation and photographs accompanying the sale of ‘Arno XI’, including technical worksheets from Ferrari’s Maranello engine shop, dated September 1953. Notably, Ferrari Classiche has recently confirmed with RM Auctions that the Tipo 375 F1 V-12 engine, number G.P. 52/1, currently installed in ‘Arno XI’, is indeed original, and a declaration confirming this fact accompanies the sale of this record-setting hydroplane