We’re never standing still here at HODINKEE. Every day we work to bring you new and better things, whether that means a whole new video series, an in-depth, 5,000 article, or an improved app experience. Today we’re excited to share some big news with you on that front: Jon Bues will be joining the HODINKEE team as our Senior Editor.
Whether you realize it or not, you’re probably already familiar with Jon and his work. He has more than a decade of experience at the helms of various watch publications and is a fixture in the industry scene, with outstanding access and perspective. Over the years, Jon has served as the managing editor of International Watch magazine, the editor-in-chief of WristWatch magazine, the watch editor of Surface magazine, and the editor-in-chief of Watch Journal. He has also contributed to Elite Traveler, The Hollywood Reporter, and other international publications. As you can see, he’s a mainstay in the watch world, and many of us here at HODINKEE have known him for quite a long time.
Jon’s areas of expertise are extremely diverse. He’s just as comfortable writing about a vintage 35mm Calatrava as he is offering insight into the latest steel sports chronograph. He’s also very familiar with the actual business side of things and the culture of watch collecting, so he’s much more than just a product guy. We’re excited to see the stories and perspectives that Jon is going to bring to HODINKEE and the ways he’s going to impact our editorial mission at large.
Stay tuned, Jon’s first stories for HODINKEE will be coming soon. For now, give him a follow on Instagram at @jonbues.
The world time complication is one that Oris has had in its catalogue since 1997, and the basic design and functionality were popular enough for it to remain basically unchanged for 20 years: an easily readable, fairly large watch with a sub-dial for home time (with a day/night indication) and an hour hand in the main dial that could be adjusted forwards or backwards in one hour jumps, via pushers in the case-band. (The name might be a bit confusing; this is actually a GMT/dual time zone wristwatch rather than a world timer in the usual sense of the term). The date also changed either forwards or backwards as the hour hand passed midnight – Oris has a patent for the particular system it uses – and it was a very attractive, and per Oris’ usual habit of offering significant bang for the buck, a very affordable alternative in the world of dual time zone watches.
The new version retains the general aesthetics of the original, but there’s a fairly major functional update, which is that now the hour hand can be adjusted by turning the bezel rather than via the former model’s two pusher system.
The result is a much cleaner design, which has much more of an instrument-watch feel to it than the original (the use of two buttons in the case flank to adjust a dual time zone complication makes a great deal of sense functionally but it’s always struck me as creating a bit of an aesthetic challenge, even in classics of the sub-genre like the Ulysse Nardin GMT ± Perpetual). The bezel now carries some fairly prominent knurling and it’s as easy to grasp and manipulate as you’d hope, as well as easier and more natural than successive presses on pushers, or unscrewing a crown to re-set the hour hand (the day/night indicator of the preceding model has been retained).
Of course neither of those systems is the end of the world either, but a world timer system in the lineup that’s aesthetically appealing, and meaningfully different, is a very nice thing for Oris to have. The system is actually somewhat reminiscent of the Vogard dual time zone complication, which was adopted by IWC for the Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Chronograph; that watch is both more complex and quite a bit more expensive than the Oris ($11,900 for the IWC vs. $3600 for the Oris) albeit it comes with a chronograph (and has a very different aesthetic as well).
Oris has always made a habit of being commendably straightforward about its movements; the Big Crown ProPilot Worldtimer houses the Oris caliber 690, which is the Oris world time/dual time zone system on an ETA 2836-2 base. For the sake of legibility and also, just as a pure design decision, the Big Crown ProPilot Worldtimer is a pretty big boy, at 44.7mm in diameter; this is more or less consistent, however, with the design and size of the other ProPilot watches from Oris. The smallest in the current catalogue is the ProPilot Date, which comes in at 41mm in diameter; a more complicated piece, like the ProPilot Altimeter, can run to 47mm. Of course, a slightly (or for that matter greatly) bigger size for aviation watches has a history of its own, probably going back at least as far Longines Lindbergh Hour Angle.
Of the dual time zone watches out there at a sub-ten thousand dollar price point, the Oris Big Crown Pilot Worldtimer is a great value, adjusted for your preferences and tolerance for somewhat oversized timepieces. The new bezel mechanism has indisputably given the watch a desirable functional update as well as a very successful aesthetic re-set, and if you liked the earlier model chances are you’ll warm up to the new one pretty fast, especially at the very attractive price.
The Oris Big Crown ProPilot Worldtimer: case, stainless steel, 44.7mm x 13.10mm; lug width is 22mm. Screw-down crown, 100m water resistance. Domed sapphire crystal with double sided antireflective coating; anthracite dial with hands and markers filled with Super-LumiNova. Movement, Oris caliber 690 with bezel operated dual time zone complication, base ETA 2836-2 with patented backwards/forwards date adjustment system. Price: textile or leather strap $3600; crocodile strap or metal bracelet $3850. Find out more at oris.ch.
There are those brand names prominent in the world of vintage watches that have faded or disappeared in the present – and there are others that have continued to endure and strengthen. This week’s selection focuses on the endurance of not just a brand’s name, but also their history of design and engineering. Unsurprisingly, this means that Rolex, Omega, Zenith, and Breitling all make an appearance, as well as Ulysse Nardin and Piaget. Read below for some highlights, or just get straight to your shopping.
1966 Breitling Navitimer Reference 806
Though much has changed in the design and engineering of Breitling watches since 1966, there are enduring elements of the Navitimer that makes the modern version inextricable from the vintage. The large, classic case design – in this example with the milled bezel and slide rule function – is recognizable in both, regardless of what other changes the years have inflicted. Check out the fantastic condition and timeless design of this Navitimer over on the Shop.
1978 Piaget Dress Watch With Lapis Lazuli Dial
Piaget has always been highly regarded for their adherence to a timeless sense of elegance and design. Whenever you find an example that combines one of their ultra-thin movements with an exotic, semi-precious stone dial, it’s truly exciting. Lapis lazuli, valued by humans for millennia (the seventh millennium B.C. actually), is one of the more versatile and attractive stones used for watch dials, and is a phenomenal pairing with Piaget’s automatic 12P movement. In a round, 18k yellow gold case and original Piaget-signed buckle, it’s a fantastic watch with just a hint of flash. Grab it here.
1985 Rolex Submariner Reference 5513
A transitional iteration of the well-known Rolex Submariner reference 5513, the watch available at present could almost be mistaken for a watch manufactured in 2015 instead of 1985 if it were not for its plexiglass crystal. Before the 5513 was retired at the end of the 1980s, it began to exhibit characteristics of the its successor, the modern reference 14060 – namely, the white gold surrounds on the luminous hour markers and a glossy black dial. The case construction and overall aesthetic, however, is decidedly vintage Submariner. Take a look over here.
The Full Set
Of course, there is always more. This week we also have a 1960s Zenith chronograph reference A273, a two-tone 1967 Rolex Zephyr reference 1008, a 1960s Omega stopwatch with very interesting scales and an enamel dial, a 1950s Ulysse Nardin in stainless steel, a 1966 Breitling Top-Time reference 2003, a 1940s Lemania three-register chronograph in new-old-stock condition, and a 1960s Racine chronograph manufactured by Gallet. All these, and more, are available on the HODINKEE Shop.
If you go to London it hard to miss the ever-present “Big Ben” (or as it is known now, the Queen Elizabeth Tower – Big Ben actually refers to the largest bell). The clock tower that was erected in 1859 next to Westminster Palace chimes over the River Thames, and has become one of the city’s greatest landmarks. Not only that, it was also a beacon of hope for Londoners during the air raids of the Blitz, when it managed to survive with only a blown out dial on one side (the clock performed unfailingly throughout the Blitz).
But now the bells will chime no more for the next four years, which will be its longest period of silence to date. Starting on August 21, 2017, Big Ben will undergo a £29 million restoration to restore its iron roof and pendulum. The clock will be completely disassembled and cleaned as well, and all four of the dials will undergo restoration as well. However, the bell will still toll on special occasions such as Remembrance Sunday (November 11, 2017). You can read more about the restoration here.
It’s that time of year again. While not strictly on the official watch guy calendar, Monterey Car Week should definitely be on your radar if you’re into beautiful, old, mechanical things. The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is of course a highlight, but there’s a lot more going on this week than just that. Our friends over at Vintage Rolex Forum and Fourtané are hosting a get together, and if you’re in the area you should definitely go.
This annual event it taking place Saturday, August 19, from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM at Fourtané (Ocean Avenue at Lincoln Street, Carmel-by-the-Sea). There will be cocktails, food, and a ton of great watches.
The Seiko Presage Cocktail Time is a bit of a cult classic amongst Seiko enthusiasts. First launched in 2010, the Cocktail Time was created in partnership with Shinobu Ishigaki, who is one of the world’s most highly regarded mixologists, and the proprietor of a bar in Shibuya district, Tokyo, known as Ishinohana Bar. Ishinohana Bar and Shinobu Ishigaki have been featured on Anthony Bourdain’s series, "No Reservations," and his carefully made and elaborately garnished cocktails were the inspiration behind the original Cocktail Time watches, with their colorful sunburst dials. They came in three "flavors" – Cool, Dry, and a 300 piece limited edition Sweet model – used Seiko’s automatic 6R15 movement, and quickly became cult favorites.
The new Cocktail Time models just released this year are part of the Presage collection, which was launched by Seiko in 2016. There are a total of eight Cocktail Time models, using two movements: a time and date model, using Seiko caliber 4R35, and models using caliber 4R57, which has a central power reserve display. The model you see here is SRPB43, which has a light blue sunray dial, houses caliber 4R35, and comes in a 40.5mm x 14.5mm stainless steel case (this may seem a bit thick but part of the thickness is owing to the highly domed "box" crystal, which is part of the charm of the watch).
One look at the new Cocktail Time and you can immediately see why the originals were so popular. The dial is extremely eye-catching; the sunray engraving reflects light in every direction, and the quality of the hands and markers is excellent, in keeping with Seiko’s habit of overdelivering on quality with those elements. The hour and minute hands are beveled, which gives the watch excellent legibility despite the rather busy background they have to contend with, and both the minute hand and the long, elegantly shaped blued steel seconds hand have gently radiused tips, which gives the watch a pleasingly anachronistic flavor (as does the domed crystal).
Caliber 4R35 is part of the 4R family of movements which Seiko introduced in 2010 – these are a step up from Seiko’s entry level 7S series of movements, and offer the ability to hand-wind, as well as a stop seconds function. Frequency is 21,600 vph, and 4R35 runs in 23 jewels, with a power reserve of 41 hours. As is typical of Seiko movements at this price point, finish is cleanly utilitarian and it looks exactly like what it is: a machine designed to function precisely and reliably, rather than an exercise in haute horlogerie finishing.
There are two schools of thought with respect to open casebacks at this price level; one is that as there is "nothing to see" – that is, no flourishes of hand finishing to speak of – a display back is unnecessary and even undesirable. The opposing viewpoint is that if you are going to produce a mid-entry level mechanical watch, part of the fun is being able to see the mechanism, and objecting to a display back is too much of an exercise in inside-baseball purism to be really relevant to the discussion, which is kind of how I feel about it. Besides, it offers an interesting look at both the engineering and aesthetic decision-making behind one of the Seiko’s most widely produced in-house automatic movements.
Overall, one gets the same very positive impression from the new Cocktail Time as with the original version (I almost bought the original at Tokyo Narita airport in 2010, on the way home from a trip to Japan and didn’t for some reason. I think I might have been distracted by a beer-pouring robot. Actually I know I was distracted by a beer-pouring robot) and as with many, many of Seiko’s more affordably priced watches, it’s hard to see any downside. Of course, individual tastes will vary and the Cocktail Time won’t be for everyone – it has a definite air of slightly rakish after-dark glamor to it, but then again, it is a Cocktail Time watch, after all, and it’s not as if Seiko doesn’t make a plethora of highly regarded tool and every day watches if that’s what you’re after.
The Cocktail Time functions just fine as an every day dress watch but there’s no doubt that it also carries with it a little bit of the sense of occasion from the inspiration of the original in the world of mixology. Think of it as a going-out watch. With its highly polished steel case, glossy leather strap, and of course, that brilliant sunburst dial, the Cocktail Time is for the gent or lady who wants a little punch in their punch, a little fizz with their gin; dare I say it, a little swizzle in their stick. Fun, well made, and yours for $425 bucks, the Cocktail Time is a surefire cure for the regret you might have at, I don’t know, not having bought one of the originals in Tokyo in 2010 when you had the chance. Ask the man who knows.
The Seiko Presage Cocktail Time, SRPB43: stainless steel case, 40.5mm x 14.5mm, screw-down display caseback; water resistant to 50 meters with box-shaped crystal. Movement, Seiko in-house caliber 4R35, 41 hour power reserve, 21,600 vph running in 23 jewels. See more and view the other Cocktail Time watches at seikousa.com.
Ming is a new watch micro-brand, making watches in Switzerland, but based in Malaysia. It’s also the name of one of the six founders, and the chief motivator behind the creation of both the brand and the watches: Kuala Lumpur-based Ming Thein, who is one of the world’s best known photography writers, a highly regarded commercial and fine art photographer, and Chief of Strategy for Hasselblad (with an academic background in physics). I’ve known him on and off for many years; he and I were both very active on what is now PuristsPro.com, in the early 2000s and though he’s spent most of his professional life in photography, he’s never lost his early and very strong interest in watches and watchmaking. Even fifteen years ago, he had a deep curiosity about watch design (and very strong views on the subject) and with the launch of his eponymous brand, with two versions of the first model, he’s taken his perspectives on quality and attention to detail, and put them in horological form.
The genesis of these watches lies in his early work doing commercial photography for watch brands; he told us, "I started imagining things I’d wanted to change or have; the initial designs were all impossible mechanically and aesthetically, but something took root and there were a few notable stops along the way: external design work for a couple of the larger brands, more of my own engineering thought experiments (I am a physicist by training) and eventually, commissioning of several custom pieces. I look at the latter as ‘the experiments’: both to see what was possible from a production standpoint, but finding the balance between feasibility, cost and aesthetic differentiation."
Ming’s known for a lot of things as both a photographer and writer but one of the most salient characteristics of his work in both domains has always been an obsessive attention to detail; in his photography, that means not just image quality per se, but also understanding exactly what contributes to image quality (in the photography community he’s notorious for his extremely meticulous approach to lighting and composition). You can see the same devotion to getting all the little things right (right, of course, as he sees them) in the watches.
The Ming 17.01 is a limited edition in two dial variations – blue, and anthracite grey. There will be 150 made of each. The watches are hand-wound, with a three-part sapphire dial; the central area of the dial carries a guilloché-like pattern that depending on the angle can either reveal its details, or appear an almost solid field of color. Cases are in grade 5 titanium, with a back held in place by six screws. Other than the company name – which is not stamped on the dial but is rather, part of the same 3-dimensional element as the chapter ring and numerals – there is no lettering of any kind on the dial at all, which has been designed to display its varying optical properties with as little interference as possible. Watches are delivered with three straps, which are attached with curved quick-release springbars, allowing straps to be changed easily.
Case construction and finishing is as carefully handled as the dial. The case and caseback are designed to hold the movement securely without the use of an internal spacer ring, and a triple gasket system allows the watch to have a 100 meter water resistance rating without the use of a screw-down crown. The movement is a hand-wound Sellita caliber SW210-1, which is an 11.5 ligne caliber running in 19 jewels, at 28,800 vph. Case dimensions are 38mm x 9.3mm. The decision to make a hand-wound watch is part of the reason that a screw-down crown was omitted; the later is usually not desirable on a manually wound watch (for obvious reasons).
A bit more on the movement: even though the watch does not have a seconds hand, the movement is still adjusted to 5 positions and put through a 250 hour daily use-simulating accuracy test. In order to help ensure optimum performance and retard deterioration of lubricants the case has also been filled with nitrogen. Stainless steel screws are used to secure the caseback (to prevent the contact welding that can occur when like metals are used) and the movement is mated to the multi-part dial and then cased, with the entire assembly process taking place in a nitrogen cabinet.
Thanks to the slim dimensions of the case, and the relatively short lugs, the Ming 17.01 wears very much like a mid-20th century wristwatch (albeit one made with very modern materials). The crown, thanks to its inverted dome design and somewhat pronounced knurling, is despite its relatively small size very easy to manipulate, making daily hand-winding of the movement very pleasurable.
Ming, on case construction, told us, "Nitrogen should theoretically do two things: firstly, minimize the amount of water vapour cased up inside the watch since the nitrogen is ‘dry’; and secondly, by reducing the oxygen content, reduce the risk of oxidation of lubricants etc. Both factors should extend the life of the movement a bit – there is no scientific testing as to how long, but the logic is sound … we believe it’s a bit better than not doing it."
"100m water resistance is a function of both case and crown; the crown has three gaskets at various points, and we actually test with a margin of error – so our cases can actually do a bit more than 100m."
"All (case parts) are made in Grade 5 titanium (grade 2 is not polishable to an acceptable standard because of the nature of the material). Titanium was chosen for lightness, hypoallergenic properties and wearing comfort – it has relatively lower heat conductivity than stainless steel, so the watch never feels ‘cold’ when you put it on. The caseband is a solid titanium donut without a spacer ring – it fits the movement precisely. This was done mainly for reasons of rigidity and simplicity, which allow us to reach 100m water resistance easily. It does require high precision so the movement is not loose inside the case."
The decision to omit the seconds hand is I think indicative of the general design philosophy behind the watch; this is a timepiece designed to project a pretty optically subtle but still noticeably varied presence. Ming says that, "The dial is a three piece affair (five, if you count the location screws for the sapphire piece) The centre portion is sun ray brushed with a ‘digital guilloche’ pattern printed in transparent lacquer. Next comes the peripheral ring, which is circularly brushed. Finally, we have a sapphire donut which carries the printing on its top side, and is located slightly above the dial (0.25mm) and fixed by means of two notches at 0 and 6 – no alignment issues. The sapphire donut is antireflective coated."
"To reduce the rehaut height to a bare minimum, the hour hand sits in the recess created by the sapphire donut and is actually at the same height as the numbers. The minute hand sits just above that, and we don’t need any extra space. It presents an additional optical illusion: under certain light, the dial is completely flat with zero pattern or depth; it appears as high contrast light markings and hands on a dark background. Under other light, it appears to be much deeper than the watch height."
This effect is especially noticeable in the anthracite dial version of the watch, which is of the two the less initially compelling but perhaps the one that offers more in terms of revealing itself over time. Ming’s said that he was after the sort of optical quality in the anthracite dial that you see in the graphite of a pencil – a matte grey picked up by a kind of fine grained monochromatic iridescence (if that’s not too much of an oxymoron).
The font for the dial was adopted from an existing character set with some changes to the proportions. According to Ming, one of the most commented-on aspects of the watch so far was the decision to have the numerals from 10 to 2 standing on their feet, and 3 to 9 standing on their heads (so to speak). He says, "The whole design feel of the watch is modern but with art deco cues – the fonts had to fit this, which meant no serifs, and nothing too period like overly large bottom/top elements. Numbers should also be thin so that they precisely differentiate the time – this is also the reason all numbers are radial. On top of that, it had to be a font that wasn’t already in common use elsewhere. In the end, we landed up taking an existing font and modifying its proportions slightly."
"As for the alignments, you always view the watch on your wrist, which means the 12 side is always upwards and the 8-4 side downwards. It thus makes no sense to follow radial symmetry and alignment for these or they’d be upside down. As for 9 and 3: for left-wristers (when you check the time) your watch is probably 2pm-upwards, so 9 appears like 9 instead of 6. For right-wristers, 10 is upwards – so 3 appears correct. Unfortunately there is no way to make both correct for both left- and right- wearers, so we go with symmetry and my preference not to have 3 look like a stylized pair of buttocks most of the time."
He also says that the use of a zero at the 12:oo position is something of a "personal crusade" and that " … firstly, there’s symmetry: 0 looks more balanced than 12. Then there’s the representation of cyclicality of time. After 23.59, you have 00.00. And lastly – there’s the recursion of design elements between the 0 and all of the other rings on the dial (of which there are many)."
These are remarkable watches, especially at the price, which is $900. The quality of materials is excellent but more than anything, you’re getting a tremendously carefully thought through product; tastes of course will vary and the design won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but the degree of attention to detail in everything from chronometry to mechanical solidity, to aesthetics is far above what one usually sees in any wristwatch, not only at this price but at any price. It’s a bit of a shame only 150 of each will be made but if the follow up products from Ming and company have this degree of care lavished on them we should be in for a treat.
The worst thing a watch can do is seem carelessly thought through; no one wants to wear a watch that feels perfunctory in materials or design and at this price point, it is generally very clear when you put a watch on, where sacrifices were made to maintain a certain price structure. Ming 17.01 escapes this dilemma very neatly; they’re some of the most interesting introductions from a new brand that I’ve seen in quite a while, micro-brand or not.
Ming 17.01: limited edition of 150 pieces with an anthracite dial, and 150 pieces with a blue dial; price, $900. Case, three part, grade 5 titanium and stainless steel screws; nitrogen filled, and constructed without spacer ring. Sapphire crystal with antireflective coating on the inner surface. Dial, sapphire, three part, with SuperLuminova. Water resistance, 100m. Movement, Sellita SW 210-1, 11 1/2 lignes, 28,800 vph, adjusted to five positions with 250 hour running test. One year warranty. Included: three straps with quick release spring bars, and travel pouch.
Often vintage watches reveal some amazing stories; this is part of their charm over brand new pieces. Whether it is a small engraving on the caseback, or an additional name on the dial, or even some surviving accessories, there are always some amazing discoveries to be made, often decades after the watch was first loved. And this could not be better illustrated, than by this double-signed Rolex "Bombay". Not only does it offer a unique insight into the history of beer in Venezuela, but it also hearkens back to a time where retailers proudly featured their names on the dial – in this case the famed Venezuelan store Serpico y Laino.
You have probably already heard about Serpico y Laino in the context of collectible Rolex and Patek. It was indeed the leading watch retailer in Caracas until its closure in 1966, after forty years of activity. It was founded by an enterprising Italian, Leopoldo Serpico, who initially focused on jewelry. He then partnered with another Italian immigrant, Vicente Laino, and both decided to expand into watches. Therefore, a trip to Switzerland was organized in the early 1930s, and they eventually negotiated exclusive distribution rights in Venezuela for a little brand called Rolex. This definitely proved a wise business choice; sales increased dramatically, and other brands were soon added.
Many of the watches that they sold bore the "Serpico y Laino" line on the dial, and often an "S&L" engraving on the back. This was not a matter of ego, but of brand recognition as well. Indeed, at the time, customers were more likely to know their local retailer than a foreign brand, so having that stamp of approval could be the decisive factor to a sale. And the impressive number of Serpico-signed Patek Philippe chronographs and expensive time-only watches, like the Patek reference 2526, allows you to realize how economically prosperous Venezuela was at the time, and how successful a retailer Serpico y Laino also was. Indeed, their sales were not only about Patek; many double signed Rolexes can be found, from the functional Submariner and GMTs to more exclusive triple calendar and triple calendar moonphase pieces.
Another popular offering seem to have been the Rolex "Bombay", in yellow and pink gold. The name might seem to indicate some connection with India, but that could not be further from the truth. Their nickname simply comes from the elaborate shape of their lugs, described as "bombé" in French (or rounded), which was then anglicized. This design was particularly appreciated in the late 1940s and through the 1950s, and Rolex offered it in many of its models (under the references 5018, 6011, 6092, 6290, and 6593).
Unsurprisingly, those Rolex "Bombay" models were extremely popular at Serpico y Laino at that time, and many can still be found. However, as with any vintage Rolex (or any other brand for that matter) the rose gold version is much rarer than its yellow gold counterpart, which already offers some insight into the rarity of the present watch. Yet, its caseback is truthfully the decisive element.
The 1954 date engraved here makes sense in the "Bombay" timeline, but it takes on its full meaning in the context of the Heinekin engraving. This marks the recognition of the successful launch of beer production in Venezuela, where Heineken was previously only imported. The original owner was directly responsible for opening this market, and spent one year establishing production, and the two following years ramping up production and distribution before heading back home to the Netherlands, the birthplace of Heineken.
After the original owner passed away, the watch was then handed down to his son who eventually brought it in for servicing in 2007, after it had spent the previous decade in a drawer. He then chose to sell it 5 years later, and provided the full story behind this watch, as well as the original box, double-signed as well.
The Dutch vintage dealer who purchased the watch shares the tale of this Rolex "Bombay" on its website, as well as an overview of Serpico’s former retail operations.
One of my favorite figures of the greater vintage watch world is American sportsman and entrepreneur Briggs Cunningham. I wrote about his watches (and cars) last year in one of my favorite stories of 2016 and while this website is and always will be dedicated to watches, every now and then, we take a minute to call attention to some amazing cars for sale that have particular meaning to us here in the collectible timepiece world. Today is one of those days.
Indeed, coming up for sale next week in Monterey during car week are three very special vehicles that speak to three different sides of Cunninham’s influence in automobiles: special commissions, racing, and actual car building.
Unique 1964 Maserati 5000 GT By Michelotti, Commisisoned By Briggs Cunningham
The Maserati 5000 is considered among the most glamorous, powerful, and exclusive road-going automobiles of the 1960s. The original concept, created at the request of Sha of Iran in 1958, was to take the enormous engines used by Maserati’s successful 450S race cars and drop it into the body of a 3500 GT, Maserati’s first road-going car. Only 34 of these mega-GTs would be made and were offered only to the most important clients in the world: Fiat-magnate Gianni Agnelli, the Aga Khan, and yes, Briggs Cunningham.
Cunningham’s 5000 GT wasn’t like the others, though. Instead, he requested a special car that resembled the 450S race car as much as possible with improved aerodynamics to give him as close to a road-going 450S as possible – most Maserati 5000 GTs seemed to take almost no aerodynamics into account with square, boxy edges. Cunningham’s car was styled by Michelotti and he took the time to travel to Italy to test-drive the car before delivery – at Monza.
This special car commissioned by Cunningham is likely the fastest and most interesting road going Maserati of the era and Bonhams will sell it with an estimate of $1.1 million to $1.4 million this Friday, August 18th. More here.
1963 Le Mans-Running Jaguar E-Type Lightweight, Ex-Team Cunningham
While Cunningham’s 1964 commission with Maserati was used to get around from track to track during the European racing season, this Jaguar was meant for actual performance driving on the ring. Indeed, Cunningham had an obsession with winning the ultimate endurance rally of the 24 hour of Le Mans and since government restrictions on small-batch automobile manufacturers had limited his chances of winning using a car of his own design, he had selected to link-up with Jaguar. With the full support of the manufacturer, Cunningham brought three of these souped-up and stripped down "GTO Killers" to Le Mans with good success, finishing 9th over all.
Cunningham continued to run the lightweight E-Type at races in the United States, winning several of them. The car was sold by Cunningham in the 1970s and went through a string of prestigious collections all over the world. To this day, the light-weight E-Types are among the most desired period racers as more information on them becomes available. The cars were never promoted or advertised by Jaguar, and they they share a similar look to the well-known E-Type, very little of the production cars made their way into these special race-bound machines.
The 1963 Jaguar E-Type Lightweight, ex-Team Cunningham, Le Mans, and Bridgehampton will be sold by Bonhams on Friday, August 18th. The estimate is not published by the department, which, well, means it’ll be a lot. More here.
1953 Cunningham C-3 Vignale Owned By The Cunningham Family
While the present Maserati and Jaguar are incredibly special cars and no doubt will sell well into the seven figure range, there is nothing more personal than an actual Cunningham sports car. This 1953 Cunningham C-3, like all cars made with the Cunningham name on the hood, were designed and produced in Palm Beach using an American power plant, but with body work coming from Italy. The C-3 uses a Chrysler Hemi V-8 engine inside lovely Vignale styling to the body – a true hybrid of American muscle and Italian coach building.
Only 25 C-3s were produced, and each sold for around $12,000 in 1953, an enormous price for the time. The cars went to families that ran in the same circles as Briggs: Rockefeller, du Pont, etc. What’s more? This car was Briggs Cunningham’s personal C-3 Cunningham.
This rare car is still owned by the Cunningham family – Briggs’ daughter to be exact – and though it has been repainted and the leather upholsty reapplied, the car is very original and has undeniable provenance. The car at the time of cataloging had just over 10,000 miles on the odometer and this car, while arguably the most closely associated of the three cars available next weekend to Mr. Cunningham himself has the lowest estimate: $750,000 to $950,000. Having said that, RM Sotheby’s will sell this incredible car so closely associated with the great man himself without reserve, so anything is possible. Click here for more.
Welcome everyone! Well, it’s Episode 14 of Friday Live and today we have an interesting lineup for you. Mr. Antonio Seward, the just-appointed CEO of Audemars Piguet North America, will be sitting down with us today to talk about the U.S. market, the ever-popular Royal Oak, where he sees the Millenary line headed, and more.
After a brief intermission, we’ll be going live again with Jack, Louis, and Cara, who’ll be bringing you the first installment of a new Live feature, Fill In The Blank, with rapid-fire responses to incomplete horological sentences covering … well, you’ll just have to tune in and find out!
As always, remember, if you’re watching the show live in the app, don’t forget to hit the play button up top to see all the action unfolding in real time. And we’ll be taking your questions live as well, so drop down to the comments below this article and let us know what you’d like to know about the ever-changing world of watches.