The Finer Things
- A. Lange & Söhne
- Arnold & Son
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- Carl F Bucherer
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- Glashuette Original
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- Maitres du Temps
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- Richard Mille
- Robert Loomes & Co
- Roger Dubuis
- Roger W. Smith Limited
- Sarpaneva Watches
- Stefan Johansson
- Tag Heuer
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- Vacheron Constantin
- Other Watch Articles
A formidable feline force
I attended the Salon QP event at the Saatchi Gallery, London, back in November 2011. It was a fantastic exhibition for watch enthusiasts with several rooms filled with the fine timepieces shown by several famous exponents of haute horology.
I am like an innocent child in this environment, eyes like saucers, drinking in every moment. I enjoyed the spectacle of admiring beautiful watches and chatting to interesting people.
The Jaguar Stand
I needed refreshment, a coffee and cake would provide adequate sustenance before my next instalment of balance wheels and spring barrels. Whilst sitting down I noted the Jaguar stand, no car present but an impressive 5 litre engine glistening in the light.
Fully replete, I strolled over to the Jaguar stand and I was met with a friendly smile and a warm greeting from the smartly attired man at the stand. We chatted a little about the aforementioned engine and he proceeded to proffer a test drive of an “exciting new model”.
Moments later I am escorted to a waiting Jaguar XKR-S on the Kings Road, Chelsea. It is in bewitching black, to paraphrase a leading high street retailer, “This is not any black, but Jaguar’s Ultimate Black Metallic”. It is stunning and my choice in preference to the French Racing Blue which appears in many of the publicity shots.
1938 Jaguar SS100
As a child I obsessed about cars, I would thumb my “car books” with due reverence, having previously rinsed my hands of any Jaffa Cake residues and immersed myself in automotive nirvana.
My affection for the aesthetics of Jaguars did not commence with pictures of the E-type, a design classic much admired by many, but a 1938 Jaguar SS100.
The name of the book, its author or its current location are long since forgotten, but the swooping lines of the front wings, the two large headlamps, one each side of the gleaming grille still come to mind.
The XKR-S does not sit on wire rims, but beautiful 20-inch alloys with a black gloss finish. Red brake calipers peep through the spokes, offering visual intrigue and a reminder that this car has a racing pedigree coursing through its veins.
Form follows function
With Jaguar, form follows function, hence the large rear wing and the venturi device under the rear bumper which have much in common with a Formula One car, creating downforce.
I got in the car and hunkered down into the driver’s seat and noted the grip it affords the torso. These seats cosset the driver and will hold them steady if they choose to clip the odd apex on a track day.
The racing seats were possibly a little too snug for my frame. However, this is no failure of the seating, rather a harsh reminder that the New Year resolution to lose weight must be seen through to completion.
Starting the engine was pure theatre. The start button pulses. The gear selector, a cylindrical knob, rises from the centre console. The sense of occasion is a treat to savour.
The sonorous V8 stirred and quietly burbled, an intent obvious from the deep timbre that intoxicated the ears. The rear haunches of the car, house a power waiting to be released with devastating effect. But this is no wild animal, it happily sauntered down the King's Road with dignity, in almost stately fashion.
My patient co-pilot pointed out, "This is the most powerful Jaguar production sports car ever with a top speed of 186mph".
I saw little reason to doubt his claim. The engine is a supercharged 5.0 litre V8 delivering 550 PS and 680 Nm of torque.
My co-pilot pauses from speaking. It’s a Paparazzi moment as some bystanders point at the car and a few digital cameras are aimed in our direction. They clearly know this is no regular Jaguar, but something a little special.
London traffic can catch out the best of us despite well laid plans. Since the previous passenger had enjoyed his XKR-S experience, a couple of roads had been spontaneously closed, rendering the reconnaissance mission by my co pilot fruitless. Gridlock adjacent to Marble Arch would test the nerve of any sane individual marshalling £100,000 of beautiful, aluminium body belonging to someone else.
My only disappointment was that we were not enjoying more of the talents of this charming coupé, however, all was forgiven when we reached Hyde Park. Wild abandon is not acceptable on public roads but a play with the steering wheel mounted paddles, provided an alluring allegro as all 8 cylinders sang in harmony.
The Jaguar XKR-S does everything you would expect of a car at this price and whole lot more. The nub of the Jaguar XKR-S for me is not what it does, but how it does it. It oozes charm and character, synonymous with the famous Jaguar Leaper badge.
The styling is seductive, but is a result of the pursuit of performance. Nothing is superfluous, no extraneous adornment, just engineering integrity delivering agility and alacrity.
Sir William Lyons would have been proud.
- Model: Jaguar XKR-S
- Engine: Supercharged 5.0-litre AJ-V8 engine; Power 550PS; Torque 680 Nm.
- Transmission: 6-speed automatic with steering wheel mounted gearshift paddles
- Performance: 186 mph (300 km/h); 0-60mph 4.2 seconds.