Elliot Brown x Land Rover Works V8 Trophy II
Our collaboration with Land Rover is well documented, we trended worldwide the day the collaboration was announced which was kinda cool.
Brand collabs are tricky to get right and inherently risky. This one feels natural, with both products fit for similar purposes; going anywhere and doing anything, but the real bedrock behind it is the people. In creating the toughest watches in the world, we had an ambition to work with Land Rover right back in the early days because their cars are highly capable and desirable, completely akin with our own watch making ethos.
What we hadn’t anticipated was how strong and very personal the connections between people in the two organisations would become.
Having recently returned from the inaugural Land Rover Classic Works Trophy event at the Eastnor Estate and Castle, the warmth naturally emanating from everyone we met within Land Rover Classic is a real credit to them. It’s something rarely talked about in business circles because figures and meetings tend to dominate but we all felt it.
The Trophy event is like a mini Camel Trophy in its ethos, pitting drivers, co-drivers, vehicles, brains and teamwork against imaginative tests and trials over three days. The deep camaraderie was evident the minute we arrived to film the unfolding events and an event of this stature requires meticulous execution no-matter what the weather or conditions (in this case the hottest day on record) yet every element just clicked into the next, magically unfolding before us. The people who imagined these vehicles and who made the event happen are special individuals. Their ideas come from a desire to create exceptional customer experiences (and history perhaps?) Their passion transcends the world of business and I bet they’d bleed Land Rover Coniston (light) green if they were to be cut open.
We’re equally passionate about our watches; if one ever fails due to a movement failure or something beyond our control, it hurts. Thankfully that’s extremely rare but you get the point. We feel fortunate to work in a business where passion drives decisions and our roles are made even more fulfilling when we are able to share ideas with others of a similar mentality and that’s where the relationship part of this collab feels so naturally authentic.
A short while into our relationship with the Licensed Goods team and after much success with the inaugural Land Rover x Elliot Brown Holton, we were introduced to the Classic Works director and Business Manager. “They have a project they would like to speak to you about” was all we knew. The project was a limited run of just 25 Works V8 Trophy Defenders – the ones used for the Trophy Competition at the Eastnor Estate and testing ground before their owners drove (or shipped) them home.
Our role was to imagine a watch that would do these vehicles justice and would be exclusively available to Defender Trophy drivers and co-drivers. We were to become timing sponsors of the vehicles and their dash clocks. For us, the thought of creating an historic watch and vehicle clock dial was intoxicating; our design would become a lasting legacy and a little piece of Land Rover history. We were like kittens with a ball full of catnip.
The brains and people behind the Defender Works V8 Trophy’s go deeper than just making very cool vehicles. They put themselves in the customers shoes to imagine how the experiences can be made more memorable, more authentic, more ‘Land Rover’ and they challenged us to do the same. Thankfully we already do that with all the special project watches we are asked to create, where we love to tell stories hidden in plain sight that remain opaque to the wider world – only known by a select few.
Meetings were, let's say, easy and well lubricated. Don’t know about you, but our best ideas often come not when we are really trying to think of them, but when we’re letting our hair down, laughing or sometimes afterwards when reflecting (or recovering!).
We knew the watch we wanted to make in essence and whilst filming at Eastnor for the launch of the Land Rover x Holton V1, we were lucky enough to visit many areas of the estate that customers never see.
The closing scenes were shot, at length (with the crew starting to freeze) at the base of the family obelisk, the highest point in the estate and it gave us a thought. We’ve used topographic contour lines before as breather lines inside our rubber straps and on one or two watches. The idea wouldn’t leave us and felt right, but how?
Invisible UV varnish.. of course!
We imagined the idea of invisible contours flooding the dial created using a UV reactive clear varnish, printed across the dial as contours. They would be hidden in plain sight until placed under UV light. We worked closely with our supplier to mix a special batch of “Eastnor Yellow” varnish. Clear by day, Eastnor Yellow to match the Defender Trophy cars under UV lighting.
We were confident this hidden UV detail was exactly what the project needed to create a special watch that would delight these special customers and befitting of their unique vehicles.
We all agreed the most memorable way to introduce the hidden gem detail would be to keep the glowing contours a secret and reveal them in their full glory at the end of the competition. Drivers and co-drivers were handed their watches on arrival but not informed of the hidden contours. All were asked to wear their watches to the gala dinner in Eastnor Castle and on the table place settings, amongst the Castrol tins decorated with verdant wreaths, were UV torches left for competitors to play with as they shared stories of their previous days competing. Land Rover Classic were happy for this very personal final piece of the watch jigsaw to evolve naturally over the evening and sure enough, as soon as one competitor discovered the detail hidden from them until now, word spread quickly through the room as torches illuminated one dial after another.
It was a special moment we’ll all remember fondly.
Before our relationship with the Classic Works team began, we had no idea we would be imagining and making watches of this ilk but it feels great being involved and, hand on heart, we can honestly say as collaborations go, we struggle to think how it could get much more enjoyable (or authentic) than this.
Which leads us neatly on to Defender Works V8 Trophy II.
We’ve met at private test tracks on and off road, riding in all manner of special vehicles; we’ve spent time playing on the water here in Poole swapping ideas; we’ve extensively tested eateries and bars, all in the name of watch design!
The first Trophy Competitors watch was such a success, it got us all thinking wouldn’t it be great if, next time, we were to also make a limited run of the Trophy watches available to all.
The Elliot Brown Trophy Expedition II watches are just that, limited to just 1000 worldwide, created to mark our continuation as official Classic Defender Works V8 Trophy time keeper. Competitors versions of the same watch will be given exclusively to the fortunate owners of the 25 Classic Defenders currently under construction; this time including five 110 Crew Cab Pick-up’s that are the coolest things. They sold out to existing Trophy owners before the official launch we believe.
The watches and dash clocks are small but permanent pieces of the Land Rover Defender history with a story all of their own.