Oechslin is one of the most well-known people in the international watch industry, and is also curator of the Musée International d’Horlogerie. He is a quiet chap, who loves design and innovation. Master watchmaker Sandra Fluck assembles the intricate components for the perpetual calendar watches. We even had a go ourselves, and I must tell you that I came away with enormous respect for the attention to detail and steady hand that Fluck has hour after hour, day after day.
The aim of the company is to “share the highest level of innovation with the smallest number of people”, CEO Weinmann told us. Not surprisingly, the watches are exquisite, but at the same time simple and elegant. There are no numbers on the faces: instead, the perpetual calendar is marked by a series of dots cut from the watch face that are used to represent the date.
Clients can choose from selected designs or work on their own designs together with Weinmann and his team. One client even used a piece of steel from the US aircraft carrier USS Dwight D Eisenhower for the face. That undoubtedly cost more than the base price of R83 000, with standard prices rising to R332 000, although this does include a high level of customisation.
Equally as quiet as the watchmakers’ workshop is the interior of the Phantom. One of the clearest briefs from the CEO of Rolls-Royce, Torsten Müller-Ötvös, to the engineering team was to “make sure it is the most silent vehicle in the world”. According to Philip Koehn, head of engineering, the interior is three to six decibels quieter than its nearest competitor; perhaps not surprising, given that there is 130kg of sound insulation in the vehicle.
That includes the unique tyres, which have an inner layer of sound insulation to reduce road noise. The Phantom also rides on bigger air springs, which allows it to glide effortlessly, and, provided you dab the brakes slightly to prepare them, it will come to an almost unnerving stop without any sign of the Spirit of Ecstasy on the grille dipping.
That sensation of gliding is as important on the water as it is on the road, particularly if you have a lake as beautiful as Lake Zurich on your doorstep. When you think about luxury motorboats, the first name that usually comes to mind is Riva, but we visited Pedrazzini, a bespoke boatbuilder that has been around since 1914, when its founder Augusto Pedrazzini moved from Lake Como in Italy to the banks of Lake Zurich.