Between the 5th and the 7th of March, the nineteenth-century mansion Swifts, occupying a commanding position on Sydney’s prestigious Darling Point, played host to the second edition of the Sydney Harbour Concours D’Elegance. The showing of important vehicles was more than a car show, but an intersection of automobiles, culture, art and history. And for the first time, A. Lange & Söhne is the official timing partner.
The German brand has form when it comes to supporting events like this — since 2011 they have been the exclusive partner of the prestigious Concorso d’Eleganze d’Este on Lake Como, the Classic Days at Schloss Dyck near Düsseldorf since 2015. On top of that, they have been involved with the Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace near London since 2018. That one of the world’s most respected watchmakers should focus on the world’s premium classic car events makes perfect sense, as CEO Wilhelm Schmidt — and avid motoring enthusiast himself — explains:
“I’m a very privileged person because I spend time working in two fields of passion, which are cars and watches – I’m a petrol head and a watch lover. So for me spending a day with watches and classic cars is the best day of the year. There’s a lot of common ground between watches and vintage cars, specifically at the high end. It’s a great social platform which exposes our watches to people who don’t otherwise look at them, and it exposes our clients to a field that is very similar to watches. It’s a win-win situation.”
Australia is an important market for A. Lange & Söhne. In fact, just before the Sydney Concours kicked off, Mr Schmid officially opened the brand’s first Australian boutique, a spacious building in Sydney’s central Pitt Street Mall. This is quite remarkable given that the brand had no presence in Australia before 2011, when Watches of Switzerland became the exclusive distributors. At the time it could have been perceived as a risky move, as the Australian watch consumer is typically perceived as loving tough, no-nonsense sports watches, seemingly a far cry from the refined lines of the Lange 1 and the Saxonia. But it turned out that fine German watchmaking resonated with an Australian audience, something that’s only set to increase given the brand’s involvement in events like the Concours.
One of A. Lange & Söhne’s duties as official timekeeper was to present the People’s Choice Award at the Concours, and it turns out that the people like old Rolls. Anne Schaal, A. Lange & Söhne’s Managing Director for South-East Asia & Australia presented the award to David Berthon, for his stunning 1913 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost, an uncommon four-speed London to Edinburgh model that was imported into Australia in 1928, where, over the course of its life it enjoyed a number of bodies — tourer, saloon, shooting brake and even a tow truck. Today the Silver Ghost sports a superbly-restored continental chassis, and is a deserved winner, and one that channels the same spirit of quality and old-world refinement as Lange’s watches.