There are fancy car shows, and then there is the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este.
The vintage and historical motoring event began in 1929 and is now held annually on the western shore of Lake Como, in northern Italy. It sounds posh, and it is.
It’s the place to see a Rolls-Royce Phantom IV, built in 1854 for Princess Margaret, and exhibited at the show in 2015. Or a 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta, winner of the 2009 edition.
The categories for historic cars change annually but with descriptions such as ‘Graceful Open Air-Style’, ‘Interpretations of Elegance’, ‘The Art of Streamlining’, ‘La Dolce Vita’, 'Gentleman’s Sports Cars’, and ‘Heroes of Le Mans’, the vehicles are not exactly run-of-the-mill.
Matching the motors for historical excellence and elegance is the event’s sponsor, A. Lange & Söhne. The German watch brand has been partners of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este since 2012 and theirs is a relationship based on a mutual commitment to tradition and craftsmanship.
A. Lange & Söhne isn't just content with sponsoring a tent or putting some adverts up. At the awards ceremony, the winner of the “Best of Show” category traditionally gets presented with a one-of-a-kind watch, the special model Lange 1 Time Zone “Como Edition”. Its solid white-gold caseback is notable for displaying the hand-engraved coat of arms of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este on a hinged cuvette.
This year Lange has announced a new winner’s watch. A version of its 1815 flyback chronograph, in 18ct white gold with a pink gold dial it too is engraved and comes with a hinged back.
An ambassador of Lange’s watchmaking tradition, the 1815 is something of a hardcore horologist’s favourite, admired for its authentically quirky twist on classic pocket watches of yore, typified by its Arabic numerals and “railway track” minute scale.
It is also the simplest chronograph Lange makes.
Watch and motoring tie-ins are ten a penny, though it's hard to think of one that rivals this event as a better fit. Lange makes only a few thousand watches each year, mainly in gold or platinum. Lavishly decorated and twice assembled by hand they are as high-end and collectable as a vintage Roller.
May the best car win.
Concorso d’Elegana Villa d’Este, 1-3 October, Lake Como; concorsodeleganzavilladeste.com
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