Cutting-edge, high-powered mechanics and sleek, sophisticated design drive both racing vehicles and high performance timepieces. It is the obvious reason why watchmakers have a history of partnering with the most sought-after drivers, racing companies and events.
This year is no different as new models appeared at SIHH and Baselworld that reinforce and expand these types of partnerships. Among the year’s most important introductions in this category include the following.
Chopard Mille Miglia 2018 Race Edition
Chopard has been serving as historical partner and official timekeeper of the Mille Miglia for 30 years. To celebrate the anniversary, the Swiss luxury brand released two models of the Mille Miglia 2018 Race Edition chronometer.
The Mille Miglia, celebrating its own 90-year anniversary, is a thousand-mile rally race in Italy reserved for historical cars. This year’s event will be held May 16 – 19 and will host 440 teams along an historical route from Brescia to Rome and back via Ferrara, Cervia, San Marino, Sienna and Parma before ending at the Monza track north of Milan. Among those competing is Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, Chopard co-president and a dedicated collector’s car driver.
The most striking feature of the 42mm steel chronometer is the dashboard-inspired engine-turned anthracite dial with white transfer-printed rail track markings and tachymeter scale. The red Mille Miglia logo is located beneath the “Chopard Chronometer” slogan at 12 o’clock. Dashboard-inspired azure silver-toned counters are at 3 o’clock (seconds), 6 o’clock (hours) and 9 o’clock (minutes), with the date window at 4 o’clock. Metallic black Arabic numerals are painted with Super-LumiNova. All of the hands are rhodium plated, including the large sweeping second hand with red tip.
The caseback bears the Mille Miglia logo around its rim and special transfer-printed inscription reading “Chopard & Mille Miglia 30 anni di passione.”
The watch is powered by an automatic Chronometer-certified (COSC) chronograph movement with a 42-hour power reserve. Finishing this timepiece is a black calfskin leather strap with red stitching and rubber lining inspired by 1960s Dunlop racing tire tread.
The chronometer is limited to 1,000 pieces.
In addition, there’s a Mille Miglia 2018 Race Edition made of steel with an 18k rose gold screw-lock crown with steering wheel motif, polished 18k rose gold bezel and 18k rose gold pushers. It is available in a limited edition of 100 pieces.
Tag Heuer Monaco Gulf 2018 Special Edition
One of the big releases at Baselworld this year was the Bamford Watch Department version of the Tag Heuer Monaco watch. So this Gulf Oil edition of the iconic square racing watch, released a few weeks earlier, didn’t receive the attention it deserved.
This Gulf Oil Monaco references the watch’s famous association with actor and competitive race car driver, Steve McQueen. Many of the iconic hallmarks of the original 1969 Heuer Monaco 1133 remain, including its 39 mm square case (considered almost universally to be the first square-cased chronograph), the crown on the left, the petroleum blue dial with two white counters, the date window at 6 o’clock, the diamond-polished horizontal hour indices and the inscribed vintage Heuer logo.
In addition, the look of the dial includes the light blue and an orange stripe of Gulf’s racing colors and the Gulf logo just above the date window at 6 o’clock.
Perhaps the most important iconic attribute is the original Caliber 11 automatic chronograph with water-resistance to 100 meters. This caliber is considered by many to be the first automatic chronograph movement to be commercialized in the history of watchmaking.
The Heuer Monaco (produced prior to the company’s merger with Tag) became famous when McQueen wore it for the 1971 film “Le Mans.” In the movie he drove the Gulf-Porsche 917K and wore the Gulf colors and logo on his driving suit.
Because of its association with McQueen and the movie, the Monaco 1133 became commonly known as the “McQueen Monaco.” The watches he wore in the movie (anywhere from two to six, according to reports) are a now much sought after by collectors. The last one available at auction sold for nearly $800,000 in 2012.
Baume & Mercier Clifton Club Indian Burt Munro Tribute Limited Edition
This watch, released at SIHH 2018, marks Baume & Mercier’s second partnership with an American racing company. The first was its association with American race car maker Shelby and its famous racing car, the Shelby Cobra. Most recently, the watch brand partnered with the Indian Motorcycle Company, America’s first motorcycle company, founded in 1901, for three new watches, including the Indian Burt Munro Tribute Limited Edition.
This chronograph marks the achievements of Burt Munro, a New Zealander, who set world speed records in the 1960s with an Indian Scout motorcycle he purchased in 1920 and modified in his shed for the next 55 years. At the age of 68 on his then 47-year-old Indian Scout motorcycle, Munro set his third and final speed record for an under-1,000cc machine at Bonneville Salt Flats. The record still stands today.
Clifton Club Indian Burt Munro Tribute Limited Edition chronograph commemorates the 50-year anniversary of Munro breaking the world speed record with a well-balanced design that includes several references to the driver and the motorcycle company. For example, Munro’s lucky number, 35, which was situated on the red aerodynamic shell of his Indian Scout motorcycle, is located by the second counter at 9 o’clock.
The dial itself is silver-colored with sandblasted finishes, meant to mimic the surface of the Bonneville Salt Flats, where the record was set. The counterweight of the chronograph seconds hand is in the Indian “I” logo. The 44mm polished stainless steel case has a tachymeter scale on the bezel, with the speed record, 184 mph, framed in white. The “Indian Red” color of the calfskin strap is the color of the Indian Motorcycle Company, and the color of the Munro Special. On the case back, the famous Indian Headdress logo of the Indian Motorcycle Company is engraved.
The watch is limited to 1,967 pieces, referencing the year he set his last record.