A. Lange & Söhne takes part in the Audrain Newport Concours d’Elegance for the first time
A four-day long extravaganza of automotive excellence. Such is the nature of this and all other Concours d’Elegance events with which A. Lange & Söhne has aligned itself. Previous pairings of automotive and horological excellence have taken place in equally prestigious locations such as Hampton Court in the United Kingdom and the Grand Hotel on the shores of Lake Como for an event specifically known in Italian as the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este (which is almost a lovely to say as it is to attend).
These events are somewhat bizarre to attend. The sheer wealth of mechanical artistry (and wealth itself) on display is stunning. Hundreds of classic automobiles assemble in orderly rows to be assessed and ogled at by experts and enthusiasts alike. While the Concours d’Elegance concept is not too dissimilar to the major watchmaking events we cover more frequently on these pages, the size of a single car in comparison to that of a single watch hammers home exactly how incredible the assembly of so many technical triumphs in one place actually is.
It is easier to skip from watch booth to watch booth at Geneva Watch Days, Watches and Wonders, or even Dubai Watch Week and pretend that each meeting is taking place in private and in isolation from all the rest, but when you’re confronted with rows and rows of iconic cars, with the sound of legendary engines rumbling into life in the distance, and the smell of motor oil and rubber on the air, it is impossible to escape the heady rush of luxury these events are so effective at conveying.
Held at The Breakers in Newport, Rhode Island, the Audrain Newport Concours d’Elegance competition took place on October 1st. Present, as one would expect, was A, Lange & Söhne CEO and renowned petrolhead, Wilhelm Schmid. I had the pleasure of interviewing Herr Schmid at the Hampton Court Palace iteration of this event a couple of years ago and it is safe to say this is a man fully invested in this partnership and his brand’s communication strategy surrounding it.
Despite his lofty position as the CEO of one of the industry’s titans, Schmid is extremely down-to-earth and eager to engage with people who share his passions. He gleefully recounted to me how one of his own cars was also parked up on site and had attracted significant attention from those with discerning eyes. However, it is clear that the Concours d’Elegance is more than a vanity trip for the brand’s CEO. The partnership feels genuine, not just because of the natural interest in the automotive world and its history exuded by Schmid, but also (and more importantly) by the appropriateness of Lange as watchmaking’s representative on this elevated stage.
It is fair to say that, in most cases, the cultural impact of an iconic car is greater than the cultural impact of an iconic watch, and, with so many iconic cars on-site, it takes an exceptional watch brand to not find itself overawed by such mechanical majesty.
A. Lange & Söhne is up to the task. The brand’s watches of course speak for themselves, but the tasteful approach to the sponsorship of this event really hit the mark.
Elegance is the word. While some motoring events can be a little garish and over the top, the Concours d’Elegance prides itself on being low-key. While the odd humble journalist invited to document such a jaw-dropping coalescence of famous people and often even more famous cars might feel a little out of their depth, the vast majority of invitees are either owners, collectors, or seasoned aficionados of the automotive world and completely comfortable in the presence of greatness. That results in a charmingly accessible event and the option to learn more about the cars and watches on display if only you make the effort to ask.
Aside from encouraging guests to explore their incredible timepieces, A. Lange & Söhne also handed out several awards across a variety of categories. One of the most talked about cars of the show was the Duesenberg SJ (Supercharged) from The Nethercutt Collection, owned by Helen & Jack Nethercutt, which drove off with the timeless luxury award for its “unparalleled elegance and performance”.
But the coveted “Best of Show” award went to the A Delage D8-120 ‘de Villars’ owned by Fritz Burkard, who looked positively thrilled to receive his certificate from a beaming Wilhelm Schmid (who has an air of joie de vivre one doesn’t often associate with a man at work).
In his own words, Lange’s CEO said, “We are immensely proud that the first step of our partnership has turned out to be such a milestone. It has been an honor to be part of this extraordinary gathering and to be immersed in the community of Newport. We look forward to continuing this partnership, celebrating precision, craftsmanship, and the timeless beauty found in both the world of horology and the world of automobiles.”