If you’ve ever dreamed of owning a classic 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, affectionately known as the Gullwing because of its upward-opening doors that resemble a seagull in flight, now is your chance (sort of). IWC is offering a scaled-down Mattel Hot-Wheels version of the car in a “Racing Works Edition” box set, together with a special-edition Pilot’s Watch Chronograph. The car is a strikingly detailed 1:64 rendering of the real thing, and one of the rarest and most detailed Hot Wheels models ever created. Faithfully reproduced details include bucket seats, a roll cage, clear headlights with M-B star braces, racing graphics and, of course, raised doors.
The IWC Hot Wheels Racing Works Edition Pilot’s Watch Chronograph (Ref. IW377904) is a version of the model in the current line, but with several custom racing-related tweaks. The black and grey dial is decorated with a chequered racing flag pattern, and the case side is engraved with the Hot Wheels flame logo. The textile NATO strap picks up the colour scheme of the IWC Racing Mercedes-Benz 300 SL. Depending on the light, the laser-engraved squares on the dial alternate between a lighter and darker shade, giving the dial visual depth and a textured appearance. The 43 mm titanium case has been given a surface treatment that involved first polishing and then sandblasting it, resulting in a dark grey matte colour. It is powered by the IWC caliber 69385, visible through the smoked glass caseback.
The set was introduced over the weekend to coincide with the IWC Racing team’s participation in the legendary Goodwood Motor Circuit at its Members’ Meeting event, where Austrian racing driver Laura Kraihamer took the wheel of a life-size Gullwing. In 2018, IWC founded its own racing team, which has since competed at various classic car races. Its connection to Mercedes over the years has included limited-edition collaborative watches, most recently the Big Pilot Mercedes AMG released earlier this year. In 2013, IWC became Mercedes-AMG’s Official Engineering Partner.
Both the Racing Works Pilot’s Watch and the Hot Wheels model car carry the number 68—a nod to the date 1868, when IWC was founded by American watchmaker and engineer Florentine Ariosto Jones, and 1968, when Elliot Handler, co-founder of Mattel, created the first generation of Hot Wheels in Southern California. Hot Wheels is now the world’s bestselling auto toymaker, with 20,000 designs and over 8 billion cars sold.
“It was a chance meeting with Hot Wheels designer Manson Cheung that kick-started our partnership,” says IWC CEO Christoph Grainger-Herr of the partnership in a statement. “Our shared passion for automotive design and mechanical watches led to a meeting between the design teams of both brands at the Mattel Design Center in El Segundo. We instantly connected, speaking the same language of design, art and engineering. I am proud of our collaboration and the unique projects we have brought to life so far.” The first joint project between the two brands was the release of a premium Hot Wheels Team Transport set in 2020, combining the IWC Racing 300 SL with a racing team transporter.
The latest, a watch and mini-car, is a 50-piece limited edition delivered in a bespoke titanium tool box. The first set is being auctioned online by Bonhams, with the proceeds going to the Two Bit Circus Foundation, a charity that creates learning experiences for children to inspire entrepreneurship, encourage young inventors and instill environmental stewardship. Bidding is open now through 22 October, and the estimate is £9,000 to £50,000 (about RM52,000 to RM287,000). The 49 remaining sets are priced at RM45,300. The auction lot includes a virtual tour of the IWC manufacture and a pair of signed driving gloves belonging to Laura Kraihamer.
Previously published on Robb Report.