A manufactory implies one-off products, traditional craftsmanship, perfection and the fulfilment of the most discerning requirements. Those are the principles which the BMW Individual Manufaktur has followed for more than 20 years now. What began in the early 1990s as a bespoke BMW 750Li for Karl Lagerfeld has since evolved into a byword for customisation at the very highest level. “The BMW Individual Manufaktur is not so much a place as an idea that becomes reality on a daily basis. That idea is total customer orientation,” explains Friedrich Nitschke, President BMW M GmbH. “Here each vision of exclusivity is turned into reality.” But BMW Individual not only creates one-of-a-kind automobiles, it also designs and completes market-specific special editions and models, for example in its collaborations with watchmaker Girard Perregaux or with the renowned concert grand manufacturers Steinway & Sons. Besides the BMW Individual Manufaktur there is also the BMW Individual Collection, which rounds off the BMW Individual offering with equipment ranges that are perfectly matched to the various BMW model series and include exclusive paint finishes, high-quality leather appointments and interior trims.
Through its joint ventures with renowned enterprises, the BMW Individual Manufaktur has in recent years managed to push the envelope further while at the same time setting new benchmarks for exclusivity. The highlight to date is the BMW Individual 760Li Sterling inspired by ROBBE & BERKING. ROBBE & BERKING are among the most tradition-steeped silver manufacturers of our day. Each of their products is an expression of consummate craftsmanship and corroborates the company claim to create pleasure not just for a lifetime but for generations. “BMW and ROBBE & BERKING share far more than a passion for elegant, classic yachts – we apply the same standards to our products: in addition to pure technical utility, pleasing the customer is a foreground consideration,” explains Oliver Berking, the fifth-generation owner and CEO of ROBBE & BERKING. “At the same time our products embody the ethos of the manufactory BMW Corporate Communications – a striving towards perfect craftsmanship and timeless elegance coupled with keen attention to the smallest detail. The BMW Individual 760Li Sterling inspired by ROBBE & BERKING is a wonderful illustration of this.”
Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design, adds this: “On my first visit to ROBBE & BERKING, I was particularly impressed by the high degree of tradition-led handcraftsmanship and the rigorous pursuit of optimal solutions. That passion is also the hallmark of our shared product.”
The common understanding of aesthetics, luxury and elegance assumes an extraordinary form in the BMW Individual 760Li Sterling inspired by ROBBE & BERKING. The BMW 7 Series stands for a unique driving experience, style-infused presence and sporting elegance. The flagship of the BMW fleet delivers refined drive technology together with luxurious comfort, providing the perfect foundation for a collaboration of a very special kind: the fusion of exclusive handcraftsmanship with one of the most dynamic vehicles in the premium luxury segment. “The BMW Individual 760Li Sterling is suffused with the warmth and soul of supreme craftsmanship,” notes Karim Habib, Head of BMW Design. “The eloquent exterior and interior surfaces – crafted by human hands – as well as the sophisticated leatherworking of the BMW join the exquisitely hammered silver surfaces by ROBBE & BERKING to make a uniquely exclusive statement.”
When it came to the question of how this precious metal could be combined with an automobile, the BMW designers and the silversmiths from ROBBE & BERKING sought inspiration in each other’s work. “Just as the silversmiths got inside the car and absorbed its ambience, we went through their workshops and took in the whole atmosphere and the special techniques for creating silverware in order to translate them into the vehicle,” adds Martina Starke, head of BMW Color and Trim Design, recalling the beginning of this collaboration.
The elegant silver lends both the interior and the exterior of the BMW Individual 760Li Sterling an unparalleled lustre and makes it the most valuable one-off that has emerged from the BMW Individual Manufaktur to date. And yet at first glance it is far from the most conspicuous car – deliberately so. On the contrary, in keeping with the concept of discreet luxury and exclusivity espoused by both partners, the BMW Individual 760Li Sterling only reveals its merits upon closer inspection.
Oliver Berking explains the difference between silver and other shiny metals as follows: “It has a uniquely warm glow that instantly tells the connoisseur it is silver and not chrome or polished aluminium.”
On the BMW Individual 760Li Sterling, the hallmark BMW exterior characteristics are finished in silver. The BMW kidney grille, the side trim element signalling the powerful V12 engine and, at the rear, the trim strip, model designation and tailpipe embellisher are finished in characteristic ROBBE & BERKING solid silver plating. The BMW logos on the bonnet and boot lid even boast solid 925 sterling silver. As a special highlight, the ROBBE & BERKING specialists have also artistically applied blue and white enamel to the BMW emblem.
Discreet ROBBE & BERKING lettering on the C-pillar as well as “ROBBE & BERKING Sterling” – along with “BMW Individual” –on the silver-plated trim strip at the rear bear further witness to this joint undertaking. The deep, warm Singapore Grey exterior paintwork, which is at once restrained and arresting, provides an attractive contrast to the silver highlights.
A first intimation of the interior experience is given by the elaborately worked door handles. Sterling silver hammered inlays embellish all four handles. As you open the door, the first things you notice are the silver-plated door sill finishers with ROBBE & BERKING lettering. Then the interior opens up to reveal an extraordinary sight: all the trim strips are made of solid 925 hammered sterling silver.
Also known as martelé, hammering is one of the oldest and most sophisticated techniques of the silversmith’s art. The depressions created by the hammer break up the light in numerous directions, lending the metal surface organic movement as well as embellishment. To achieve this, a highly polished sheet of silver is processed using a special hammer. No two hammer blows should fall on the same spot and yet the entire surface must be covered with equal force. And therein lies the crucial challenge: one misplaced blow and the piece is no longer usable. Only the experienced hands of the silversmiths are able to create the gently undulating facets that lend the interior of the BMW Individual 760Li Sterling its special lustre.
All hammered surfaces are solid 925 sterling silver, as identified by the ROBBE & BERKING maker’s mark and the crescent moon and crown mark that are found exclusively on pure silver products. The trim surfaces of the BMW Individual 760Li Sterling accordingly bear the punch mark with the crescent moon, which is the international symbol for silver; the crown, the symbol for Germany, and finally the maker’s mark. The head restraints take up the crescent and crown of the punch mark in embroidered form, handcrafted in the BMW Individual saddlery.
BMW Individual fine-grain Merino full-leather trim in Amaro Brown is the most exclusive leather option available for a BMW. On the seats it is accompanied by contrasting piping in Opal White. The additional leather lining on the seat trim, the A- and B-pillars, the sun visors and the door sill underline the premium character of the cabin. The interior experience is capped by an Alcantara roof liner likewise in Amaro Brown. The BMW Individual 760Li Sterling thus offers the choicest combination of materials to be expected in a luxury-class vehicle. A small tribute to the almost 140-year silverware tradition of ROBBE & BERKING completes the interior fittings: above the rear centre tunnel are two silver goblets and a silver carafe that were custom-made exclusively for this special model.
For more than 20 years now, BMW Individual has stood for customisation at the highest level. Here buyers can draw on a range of select colours and materials to add individual and personalised touches to their BMW that go well beyond the scope of standard offerings. The BMW Individual range comprises two areas: the BMW Individual Collection and the BMW Individual Manufaktur. The BMW Individual Collection comprises the core product range of BMW Individual, offering fittings and finishes – such as exclusive paintwork colours, quality leather and interior trims – that are specifically tailored to the various BMW model series.
The BMW Individual Manufaktur caters to requests that go beyond the options offered by the BMW Individual Collection. Meticulous precision skills are applied to meet even the most unconventional customer requirements provided they accord with safety requirements, the brand character and legislation. Offering support and advice to customers in fulfilling their individual BMW dream are a team of specialists.
This guarantees genuine one-offs that express the individual character of each vehicle in a truly unique way. The manifestation of this individuality is as multifaceted as each customer.
Silver manufacturer ROBBE & BERKING was founded in 1874 and remains a true family business to this day, now in its fifth generation and headed by Oliver Berking. In keeping with tradition, the quality of each piece is still guaranteed solely by the hand of the silversmith and not the constraints of mass production. It has made ROBBE & BERKING the leading provider of silver cutlery worldwide.
The company started out modestly at the beginning of the last century. With barely any funds and relying solely on their own artistry, silversmiths Nicolaus Christoph Robbe and his son-in-law Robert Berking won over more and more customers to their masterpieces year by year. Oliver Berking joined the family-run company in 1985 and now continues the tradition of the famous silvermakers in their fifth generation. Their products are ranked among connoisseurs around the globe as unsurpassed masterpieces of the silversmith’s art.
Many top restaurants and hotels, for example, use silverware from ROBBE & BERKING, as do more than half the world’s biggest private yachts.