The Two Facets of Philippe Charriol: Watchmaker and Race Car Driver

At the age of 20, Philippe Charriol admitted to his childhood friend turned journalist, Michel Cahier, that “if he became rich, he would drive a Ferrari and become a race car driver.”  At the time, while Philippe Charriol was driving to his university in Aix en Provence, his friend was surprised at “the speed of his reflexes and sharpness of his sight.”  This brief article tells the story of the watchmaker’s quick and passionate return to racing.

The driving skills of Philippe Charriol are reflected in his daily work as an entrepreneur in the watch business.  His appetite for risk and cool streak of confidence are two of the watchmaker’s greatest qualities, which have helped contribute to his success in racing.

After creating a world-renowned watch brand, Philippe Charriol took to the wheel at the age of 50 to become a race car driver on the Circuit du Castellet in Provence.  With one promising thing leading to another, he managed to drive on some of the most famous and demanding of race circuits (Formula 1 circuits included) in the world with Venturi, Porsche, Corvette and Lamborghini.  His race cars are always eye-catching, mostly painted in a livery synonymous to his brand’s signature color: prune.

His passion for racing even inspired him to produce a limited edition watch appropriate for the sport: the Venturi Chronograph, which was developed during the time when he was racing with Venturi cars in the Philippe Charriol SuperSportS Trophy.  Fifty of these stunning, solid gold timepieces were specially made and dedicated to his fellow Venturi drivers.  The success of this also led him to produce the Diablo Chronograph, when he began driving his winning Lamborghini Diablo.

From 1997 to 1998, he sponsored both the Philippe Charriol SuperSportS Trophy and the GT Championship of France.  For both races, Philippe Charriol drove the Venturi car which would eventually lead him to the title of Champion of France 1997.  It is with his Lamborghini Diablo GTR that he won the Coupe de France during the Albi and Magny-Cours races in 2002, and three more victories in the Coupe de France GT Races in Dijon, Albi, and Magny-Cours in 2004.

For eleven years, he excelled in racing on ice in the prestigious Andros Trophy, which is held each year in the French Alps and Pyrénées.  He became a master of ice driving among other fellow, ex-Formula 1 drivers: “From racing you retain two lessons: First you race to win, and second you never get distracted from your aim and goal.”  These two lessons serve as the main guideline in his attitude towards running a successful luxury business.

The common denominator between his two passions – watches and car racing – is the mastery of time and speed!  It is only through car racing that he is able to boldly experiment with these notions.  And ultimately, by being the watchmaker that he is, he is constantly reminded that each minute is precious and that time flies!


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