Until June 2015, no one had heard of Shami Kalra’s Omologato brand because it didn’t exist. But the designer’s decision to shift from making promotional goods for the motor sport world to focusing on affordable, car-inspired watches has proved to be a good one.
“In the beginning, I was happy if we sold one watch per day,” Kalra said, “but this morning alone we’ll be shipping 80 orders around the world.”
And it’s not just individual customers who have caught on to how Omologato’s designs have captured the essence of driving on road and track.
The brand has already been recruited as the official timing partner of both the Autodromo Nazionale Monza and Watkins Glen in the US and, as this issue of Motor Sport was going to press, Kalra was preparing to sign deals with other major circuits.
Omologato has also established itself as a serious race- team sponsor, most recently as a backer of the DragonSpeed LMP2 team that contested September’s Le Mans 24 Hours with a pair of LMP2 Oreca 07-Gibsons. Car no 21 was driven by Juan Pablo Montoya, Memo Rojas and Timothé Buret, and car 27 by Henrik Hedman, Ben Hanley and Renger van der Zande.
To mark the brand’s first involvement with the celebrated race, Kalra produced a limited edition of 25 team watches, plus 16 extra-special versions, eight of which were placed inside each car before the start.
The stunt required full FIA approval that necessitated bundling the timepieces in nylon rolls and fitting them into special aluminium boxes that had to be securely bolted into each car.
“We agreed the deal with DragonSpeed back in June, but the FIA had to be informed of the plan because it meant removing exactly the correct amount of ballast from each car in order to compensate for the extra weight of the watches which, of course, also had to be safely contained.”
In the event, car 27 crossed the line in a respectable 16th position, while car 21 failed to finish, retiring with a misfire after 192 laps. All 16 watches survived the ordeal, however, with a dozen being quickly sold at £795 apiece, two kept for the Omologato archive and two being set aside to be auctioned for wildlife charity Big Cat Sanctuary.
Putting the watches through the Le Mans race has now inspired an even tougher test. In January, 18 Omologato chronographs will be fitted inside three CR6 off-road buggies and one seven-and-a-half-ton truck that will make-up the SRT Racing team’s entry in the 2021 Dakar Rally.
The move follows Omologato’s sponsorship of the 2019 East African Safari Classic Rally, for which it created a special limited-edition watch and plastered its logo across a Tuthill Porsche 911.
The new model for the Dakar challenge has already been produced, with ‘standard’ versions (i.e. not the ones that will be fitted in the vehicles) being available to buy now for £370. They feature 42mm blackened steel cases, matt- black dials with yellow SuperLuminova markings and orange detailing. Powered by good-quality, Japanese-made quartz movements, the watches are supplied on silicone straps in a choice of black, orange, khaki or navy.
The 16 race-run watches will cost around £750 and will each have case backs engraved with the relevant vehicle’s race number. They will be supplied with a USB stick showing the pieces being placed inside the cockpit, a certificate of authenticity and special rally-style packaging.