Having arrived back on British soil after the in-the-metal launch of our Morgan Chronometers at the Geneva Motor Show, co-founder Mike France gives us a rundown of all things automotive and aesthetic…
For a few days this week, we relocated the centre of our Swiss operations from our atelier in Biel/Bienne to Geneva; a distance of nearly 100 miles. The reasoning behind this move? The proud reveal of our new Morgan Chronometers, shown in the metal to the world’s motoring press for the very first time, at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show. The watches were incredibly well received by everyone and we were especially pleased with the reaction from our friends in the Morgan team, who were delighted with the results of our collaboration. Phew!
As Morgan weren’t presenting any new car models this year (they were awarded the prestigious Car of the Geneva Show award last year for the all-electric EV3 version of their iconic 3-Wheeler), our chronometers perhaps took on an enhanced importance. However, not even I would lay claim to Christopher Ward being the talk of the show – that was reserved for other metal items on display that most of, unlike the EV3, had four wheels! Until our Technical Director, Johannes Jahnke, has fulfilled an ambition he shared with me to design and develop a V6 engine (yes, really), we will have to play second fiddle to cars at the world’s premier motor show. But that isn’t too great a hardship, given some of the wonderful automobiles on show in 2017 – a classic year, according to many informed commentators.
It seems that car design is heading in a new direction – away from the sculpted, uber-designs of the last ten years, towards a cleaner, pared down, more timeless aesthetic possibly best represented (I am delighted to report) by the new Range Rover Velar, a fourth Rangie that fills a perceived gap between the Luxury-liner sized Sport and smaller Evoque. That we see the same direction in watches (check out our new Malvern Collection) suggests this is a macro-trend that isn’t going away any time soon. And for cars, as with watches, the simpler the design, the more important it is to get the detailing right. The Velar achieves this, down to pop-up door handles that retract to form seamless side-panels – beautiful. I have already made a note to discuss pop-up crowns with Adrian Buchmann!
Another British car brand making a big splash at the show was McLaren with their Ferrari 488-rivalling 720S. Capable of the 0-62 in 2.9 seconds, it upstaged other new Italian supercars such as the Ferrari 812 Superfast and the latest automotive rock star from the Lambo stable, the Huracan Performante. So, you’d expect that my favourite new car of the show must be British: a Morgan, the Velar, or perhaps that McLaren?
Wrong. That title would fall to the Alpine A110, a small, mid-engine two-seater sports car from the Renault-owned French company who last manufactured a car in 1995. It has an attractively retro appearance, and one that’ll give many a Porsche a run for its money. I’ll freely admit, however, that my allegiance is emotionally influenced: I was the very proud owner of one of the very last cars off the line at Alpine back in 1995, and certainly the last one ever delivered into the UK, with my legendary A610 Turbo. If the new A110 were to win Car of the Show, I would of course be disappointed for the Brits – but I’d be smiling inside.