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The Boat Tail: Rolls-Royce and Bovet’s fully bespoke years-long project

It’s a nautical-themed convertible that’s been built from the ground up, with a pair of convertible timepieces that are unique to the project.

Bespoke is a word that gets thrown around a lot, particularly when it comes to clothing. In the bespoke process, every single thing—from the fabric and the cut, to the stitching and the buttons—is left for the owner to decide on. But it’s one thing to have a suit tailored to your liking, and quite another to have an entire vehicle go through the same process. 

It takes a lot more work, years of experience, and maybe a hand from another house, to get everything done exactly to spec. 

And at an age where high-profile collaborations have brought some fairly incredible concepts to life, we get one from two of the oldest names in the mechanical world: Rolls-Royce and Bovet. 

Rolls-Royce and Bovet are two of the oldest names in the mechanical world, and you can see their combined hundred of years of experience in the Boat Tail. Photo: Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce has been around since 1904, when Henry Royce and Charles Rolls met in Manchester. Two years later, they launched the Silver Ghost, which was hailed “the best car in the world” in 1907. Bovet Fleurier’s story, meanwhile, began in 1822, when Eduoard Bovet established it in Switzerland, creating pocket watches for the foreign market. Today, just like Rolls-Royce, it’s known for creating top-of-the-line pieces for an exclusive clientele.  

Neither, of course, are strangers to custom work. And in the past couple of years, Rolls-Royce has seen an increase in interest for their bespoke commissions. Just recently, in a collaboration with Hermes, the motoring house built what was essentially a land jet in the color of ancient japanese stoneware. And now, they’ve come up with the Boat Tail: a custom build that’s essentially a land yacht with a matching pair of bespoke Bovet timepieces on the dash. 

The Boat Tail is a fully bespoke vehicle that’s been made by the Rolls-Royce Coachbuild division. Photo: Rolls-Royce

Both of these houses bring more than a hundred years of experience to the table, and this handbuilt custom vehicle, as well as the watches, make full use of those centuries.

The Boat Tail was created by the Rolls-Royce Coachbuild, a division that’s meant to be adaptable and the pinnacle of bespoke for the marque. Instead of using existing platforms (like the Phantom, for example), being in the Coachbuild division basically meant the Boat Tail’s designers—as well as the clients who commissioned it—were free to create what they wanted. The result is a sleek, four-seat convertible that takes its design cues from nautical craft.

The wooden rear deck raises to reveal al fresco dining accoutrements, with a champagne chiller and rows of glasses. Photo: Rolls-Royce

At 5.8 meters, it’s a substantial presence on and off the road, giving the nautical theme a lot of space to present itself. The windshield is shaped similarly to that of a boat’s, the shape of the body also takes from the same inspiration, and there’s a deck in the rear that’s made out of wood. The deck itself opens up to reveal a champagne chiller, racks of glasses, and accoutrements that allow for an al fresco dining experience. 

Looking at the front, the iconic Rolls-Royce grille is joined by a pair of round headlights, with the daytime running lamps on top. And while everything points at being classic, the design is executed in a thoroughly modern manner. 

The Bovet timepieces took over 3,000 hours to develop and produce, and required a three-year collaboration between both houses. Photo: Rolls-Royce

Crowning the dash are a couple of bespoke timepieces from Bovet, in both a men’s and ladies’ version. Both of them can be taken out of the dash, and come with Bovet’s signature Amadeo case. This means they can be worn on the wrist, as well as placed on a table, or worn with a chain as a pocket watch. They are also reversible, displaying the hours and minutes on both dials. 

The crown sits at the top of the case (just like a pocket watch’s crown), with a power reserve indicator on the 12 o’clock position, as well as a tourbillon at 6 o’clock. The tourbillon is a mechanism that’s meant to counter the effects of gravity when the watch is used in different positions, and is one of the most difficult complications to make, even to this day. While it’s usually made as a testament to craft these days, the tourbillon  should prove handy in this particular case, where the watch will spend its time on the dashboard, on a wrist, or inside a pocket. (You can read more about tourbillons in our previous story here.)

The two timepieces serve as dashboard clocks, though they can be removed to wear on the wrist, to place on the table, or set with chains to wear as pocket watches. Photo: Rolls-Royce

Each watch bears the Rolls-Royce grille as a main feature of the dial, as well as a Spirit of Ecstasy sculpture above the tourbillon, marking them both as unique to the Boat Tail. 

And because of the inclusion of these bespoke watches, Rolls-Royce and Bovet had to work closely together for three years to complete the project. The resulting motorcar, though, is proof of what Rolls-Royce’s Coachbuild division is capable of. And even among the ranks of their bespoke models, this is a truly unprecedented object. 

Watch a video of the Boat Tail below: