This is the most detailed Hot Wheels model ever

Published: 20 October 2021

 Created in collaboration with IWC
 Model plus chronograph watch set
 Set no.1 being auctioned for charity

The most intricate Hot Wheels model ever? You’re looking at it.

This Mercedes 300 SL model has been created in partnership with watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen – which, in turn, has made a special chronograph watch to go with the car. 

Revealed at the 78th Goodwood Members’ Meeting, only 50 model/watch sets have been made – and all are sold out. Apart from one: set no.1 is currently being auctioned for charity. 

What’s so special about this model?

Composed of 24 parts, the Gullwing Mercedes is described by Hot Wheels insiders as ‘the most detailed 1:64 scale model we’ve ever created.’ The gullwing doors open, and inside there are bucket seats and a rollcage.

IWC Hot Wheels Mercedes Gullwing

The SL’s proportions have been carefully tweaked to ensure its memorable shape looks just right in 1:64thscale (the standard size for a typical Hot Wheels model); the roof has been lowered ever so slightly, for example. The car’s base plate is machined using IWC’s own CNC machines normally used for watch components.

Rather than a cardboard/bubble-pack box, the model comes in a metal toolbox together with the titanium chronograph pilot’s watch. The set’s official title is the ‘IWC x Hot Wheels Racing Works collector’s set.’

Why the Mercedes 300 SL?

As part of its marketing programmes, IWC lends its branding to a classic racing team: IWC Racing, which fields a 1955 Mercedes 300SL Gullwing in historic racing and automotive events. (The car is owned and looked after by HK Engineering in Germany.) It’s this car that the Hot Wheels model is, ahem, modelled on. 

Ex-F1 star David Coulthard took the SL to first place in the Tony Gaze Tropy at Goodwood in 2019, and this year it was fielded by Austrian GT driver Laura Kraihamer against stiff E-Type and Cobra opposition in the Moss Trophy.

How did the collaboration come about?

‘I reached out on Instagram!’ says IWC Schaffhausen CEO Christoph Grainger-Herr. ‘Unsurprisingly, I’m a Hot Wheels collector, and I travel to LA once a month [where Hot Wheels is based]. So I DM’d Hot Wheels’ chief design officer and it started from there,’ he says. ‘The team there are into pilot’s watches, and titanium cases – they asked me loads of questions I couldn’t answer! And they had their own input into the watch design.’

IWC Hot Wheels watch

Aside from personal interest, why this collaboration?

‘Collaborations nowadays – they’re a big part of the experience people are looking for,’ Grainger-Herr says: ‘Sneakers, watches, cars…you can see a common design trend across different disciplines. What inspired people in 1968 [when Hot Wheels started] might have been Mustangs, the space programme, rocket-styled cars… These days we’re inspired with different stuff. That’s been powered by digital and social media – I’ve become inspired by Japanese car culture in the last few years, for example, entirely through that. It’s this connective tissue that links these different fields together.’

IWC Hot Wheels Mercedes Gullwing watch set

It seems companies such as watch manufacturers and model makers need to have one foot in the digital world, to build their brand awareness and expand that ‘connective tissue;’ while products they make remain satisfyingly analogue:

‘When you think about a lot of the objects that surround us, they’re screen-based. I think people have a degree of longing for these analogue things. There are parallels between the success of a $1 rolling car model and vinyl records – the anti-movement – I think it’s something people want to experience.'

What’s the watch like?

Its 43mm case is in titanium – because of the Hot Wheels designers’ love of the material – and the Hot Wheels logo is engraved on the side. ‘I said we’d engrave it rather than print it,’ Grainger-Herr says, ‘much to the anger of my people! It makes the watch more complex to service.’

IWC Hot Wheels Mercedes Gullwing watch set

Laser-engraved squares on the watch face shimmer like a holograph, depending on the way the light hits them. The number 68 on the reverse of the case is there because Hot Wheels was founded in 1968, and IWC in 1868.

How much?

That’ll be £9350 – although all sets are sold out…

One set in charity auction

… apart from set no. 1 to be auctioned for charity. It’s in aid of the Two Bit Circus Foundation – an initiative to inspire invention and engineering in children from all economic backgrounds. 

‘It gives 18-19-year-olds a whole level of skills they might not otherwise have,’ says Grainger-Herr. ‘We’re hoping for an all-time 1:64 scale car record from the auction.’ 

If you’re feeling flush, you can bid at the online auction here, which closes on Friday 22 October 2021.

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, occasional racer