Hot Wheels has partnered with storied Swiss watchmaker IWC Schaffhausen to create a $10,000 set featuring a 1/64th-scale Hot Wheels model of IWC’s race-prepped 1955 Mercedes Gullwing SL paired with a Gullwing-bespoke Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition by IWC. The first set—wristwatch and car model—is up for auction as you rad this at the Bonhams event at the Goodwood Members Meeting, where IWC’s real Gullwing SL is racing. Current bid at time of writing is £13,000 (about $17,800). But IWC and Hot Wheels will offer 50 of the sets total with a US price of $10,000.
It’s a somewhat unexpected collaboration.
Florentine Ariosto Jones founded IWC Schaffhausen in Switzerland in 1868, and since then the company has been known for several innovations in the field, including the use of titanium in the craft, as well as making chronographs for British pilots during WWII. More recently IWC has had a few well-known collaborations with carmakers, including Porsche Design in the 1970s through 1990s and also with AMG Mercedes in 2005, where their sponsorship extends from vintage racing like the Gullwing all the way up to Mercedes’ Formula 1 team. So it comes as a bit of a surprise that the International Watch Company (IWC) would start a new collaboration with… Hot Wheels.
Why would such a historic marque as IWC Schaffhausen form such a collaboration? Was it for money?
“Absolutely not,” said IWC CEO Christoph Grainger-Herr. “Hot Wheels has such a rich culture of being very creative about interpreting what is current in car culture at any given moment, from 1968 all the way to today. In the beginning, that would have been hot rods and muscle cars and pony cars, and then branched out into to really every aspect of modern car culture from JDM and crazy Japanese tuners all the way to European classic racing in the 300 SL. I think (Hot Wheels) really captures, design-wise, what the Zeitgeist in terms of automotive design really is.”
How did the collaboration begin?
“It was a chance meeting with Hot Wheels designer Manson Cheung that kick-started our partnership,” said Grainger-Herr. “Our shared passion for automotive design and mechanical watches led to a meeting between the design teams of both brands at the Mattel Design Center in El Segundo (California). We instantly connected, speaking the same language of design, art, and engineering. I am proud of our collaboration and the unique projects we have brought to life so far.”
Those unique projects include a Hot Wheels Team Transport set in 2020 that combined the IWC Racing 300SL with its racing team transporter. Then an IWC-exclusive version of the Hot Wheels Mercedes-Benz 300SL, which was made available recently. And now the watch and wheels set, “IWC x Hot Wheels Racing Works.”
“This partnership is a reflection of the creativity and collaborative spirit our teams share, and the result is an exceptional package that truly discerning enthusiasts of luxury timepieces, racing, and car culture will appreciate,” said Mattel’s chief design officer Chris Down.
Yeah, but 10 grand? Granted, you can buy any number of IWC watches for under $10,000, but you can also pay over $200,000. Plus, it comes in a neat tool box, with the car mounted on a machined titanium base.
“I think we have to look at it in the context of how we’re presenting it,” said Grainger-Herr. “This is a set that is celebrating the return after the pandemic to the racetrack for the classic racing team at IWC, (which is campaigning) the 300 SL Gullwing. It’s basically at Goodwood at the weekend. The time machine and track machine are coming together. And this is something that clicks with people who love mechanical watches and who love the world of Hot Wheels, and there are quite a few of those.”
Grainger-Herr said he was “stunned” to see the amount of social media posts that he came across that paired watches with cars.
“Collecting has become such a ubiquitous thing, and it’s not just people collecting high-end watches, jewelry, fine whiskies, and vintage cars. When you see that (an earlier) model like the Hot Wheels Mercedes-Benz 190 period correct from a couple of years ago already resales on eBay for north of $2000 for what was a $30 model two years ago, there’s serious collecting aspiration in scale models. You see that a lot of collectors who like actual sports and vintage cars are also collecting models. I don’t think it’s mutually exclusive. What we’re trying to do here is just to tell a very nice story, how the design and engineering world of Hot Wheels comes together with our brand in a very specific context. And that’s what we’re celebrating with the 50 sets (of Hot Wheels model and IWC watch).”
The auction for the first set ends Wednesday. If you get outbid there, you can still buy one wherever fine IWC watches are sold. Find yours here.
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