Lamborghini Watches: A Brand Too Far, Now On Clearance

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth

Full disclosure: I’m a huge Lamborghini fan. Enough of a fan that I can get a little worked up about the brand’s directional wobbles over the past decade. Make no mistake, though: if my budget would stretch to a Murcielago, I’d have one. (About the Aventador, I’m a bit diffident.) Ferrari’s transformation from manufacturer of unreliable but pretty cars to merchandising machine and tyrannical allocation scheme has made Lamborghini seem much cooler by comparison. The clinical precision of the Gallardo makes the Dino-successor Ferraris look a bit try-hard and the big twelve-cylinder supercars have the swagger that the FF, 612, and F12berlinetta seem to be deliberately avoiding.

But there are times that one simply wants to turn one’s head away from the catastrophe that is Lambo’s Ferrari-aping merch scheme, and this is one of them.

Let’s get this on the table first: If you wear a Swiss “luxury watch”, you’re a douchebag. (Full disclosure: I have a few of them myself.) The bigger the watch is, and the more elaborate/flashy it is, the worse you are. The newer and more quick-bake the brand is, the more horrifying your personal presence is to people who weren’t raised in a trailer prior to the IPO/Goldman bonus/first-round draft pick/real-estate deal/personal-injury settlement. I’ve complained about this before, but wearing a watch that is unnecessarily complex and impossible to fix amounts to a Nero-esque destruction of capital without the attendant flair. This goes double if your watchmaker’s brand was “dormant” for fifty years or more before being pried out of the hands of someone’s step-great-grandchild by a venture-capital firm, triple if Nicholas Hayek imagined your brand while he was having a “speedball” medically administered by a twenty-two-year-old Italian nurse who does figure modeling in the evenings.

With that said, the Venn diagram of the buyers for expensive supercars and ridiculous watches is pretty much a circle, so it stands to reason that for every exotic car, there will be a somewhat less exotic watch. It has to be less exotic than the car because there’s also a merch possibility for the proles who can’t get the car just yet, and also because the very best watchmakers have too much pride to let something like that happen.

Ferrari started their time in the watch game with the staid but impeccably respectable Girard-Perregaux before bowing to their customer’s true demographic and moving the brand to quick-bake reboot and Sly Stallone favorite, Panerai. In 2010 those two brands parted ways and Ferrari started a house-brand watch lineup featuring “Swiss movements” with what the hardcore watch fanatics say is a heavy dose of Chinese componentry and assembly.

That takes care of the proles and the F1 team fans, leaving the company free to make a second deal with Hublot in which the Ferrari name is applied to some of the world’s most loathsome timekeeping instruments. It’s a neat trick, really. There’s a $599 watch for the guy who will never own a Ferrari, and the $22,000 watch for the guy who has two of them and is in the queue for his next one.

As is usually the case, Lamborghini isn’t that deft. Their choice was to partner with mid-level generic-luxury brand Tonino to create a line of $1500-3500 watches with the Lamborghini brand applied. Unlike the high-end Ferrari watches from G-P, Hublot, and Panerai, the Tonino Lambo watches come in every possible size and style, thus removing any chance that someone might recognize the watch without putting their face ten inches from the dial. As far as I can tell, the watches are existing Toninos with a bull at the twelve-o-clock mark.

The resulting products are neither compelling nor particularly cheap, thus ensuring that they won’t be bought by Lamborghini owners or Lamborghini fans. Being among the latter is tough anyway; if you get caught prancing around in a full Rosso Corsa outfit by your friends, you can always say you’re a fan of the race team, but if you’re wearing Lamborghini clothing and you don’t have a Lamborghini, you’d be better off staying in the house.

No surprise, then, that the discount website Touch Of Modern is half-pricing Lambo watches this week. No need to rush; they have plenty of them. I can only imagine one possible reason to purchase one, and that would be an attempt to humiliate yourself into accelerating the purchase of that nicely patinated ’04 with the crappy e-gear and the Audi 100 climate controls. If that’s why, then by all means, get the yellow watch, too!

Jack Baruth
Jack Baruth

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  • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Mar 10, 2014

    What do watch people think of Dunhill timepieces? I don't know any watch people to ask them, but I've long been interested in the brand.

    • See 1 previous
    • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Mar 11, 2014

      @IHateCars Thanks. Their stuff still seems pretty expensive to me, but nicely understated.

  • Stephen Stephen on Apr 14, 2024

    My "mid-level" limited edition Tonino Lambo Ferraccio Junior watch has performed flawlessly with attractive understated style for nearly 20 years. Their cars are not so much to my taste-- my Acura NSX is just fine. Not sure why you have such condescension towards these excellent timepieces. They are attractive without unnecessary flamboyance, keep perfect time and are extremely reliable. They are also very reasonably priced.

  • Teddyc73 As I asked earlier under another article, when did "segment" or "class" become "space"? Does using that term make one feel more sophisticated? If GM's products in other segments...I mean "space" is more profitable then sedans then why shouldn't they discontinue it.
  • Robert Absolutely!!! I hate SUV's , I like the better gas milage and better ride and better handling!! Can't take a SUV 55mph into a highway exit ramp! I can in my Malibu and there's more than enough room for 5 and trunk is plenty big enough for me!
  • Teddyc73 Since when did automakers or car companies become "OEM". Probably about the same time "segment" or "class" became "space". I wish there were more sedans. I would like an American sedan. However, as others have stated, if they don't sell in large enough quantities to be profitable the automakers...I mean, "OEMs" aren't going to build them. It's simple business.
  • Varezhka I have still yet to see a Malibu on the road that didn't have a rental sticker. So yeah, GM probably lost money on every one they sold but kept it to boost their CAFE numbers.I'm personally happy that I no longer have to dread being "upgraded" to a Maxima or a Malibu anymore. And thankfully Altima is also on its way out.
  • Tassos Under incompetent, affirmative action hire Mary Barra, GM has been shooting itself in the foot on a daily basis.Whether the Malibu cancellation has been one of these shootings is NOT obvious at all.GM should be run as a PROFITABLE BUSINESS and NOT as an outfit that satisfies everybody and his mother in law's pet preferences.IF the Malibu was UNPROFITABLE, it SHOULD be canceled.More generally, if its SEGMENT is Unprofitable, and HALF the makers cancel their midsize sedans, not only will it lead to the SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST ones, but the survivors will obviously be more profitable if the LOSERS were kept being produced and the SMALL PIE of midsize sedans would yield slim pickings for every participant.SO NO, I APPROVE of the demise of the unprofitable Malibu, and hope Nissan does the same to the Altima, Hyundai with the SOnata, Mazda with the Mazda 6, and as many others as it takes to make the REMAINING players, like the Excellent, sporty Accord and the Bulletproof Reliable, cheap to maintain CAMRY, more profitable and affordable.