In our newly introduced Horology section, we take a look at some of the watches that would appeal to the automotive enthusiast – or, for that matter, any man of taste. In this issue, we look at the indelible link between cars and Swiss timepieces.
For the younger folk amongst us, it may seem like it’s fashion that creates the link between fast cars and quality timepieces. But, in reality, specialty watches – such as chronographs – were of immense use in the world of cars and motor racing. In an era of racing when digital devices, and certainly GPS, didn’t exist, it was these mechanical timepieces – mainly Swiss manufactured – that determined who was one-tenth of a second slower or faster than the next guy, regardless of whether it was racing cars, airplanes or boats.
In fact, as the use of these mechanical devices picked up – more out of necessity than anything else – watch companies often used exotic cars as backdrops in their advertising, with the connection between a fast car and a good Swiss watch being implied by default.
While most racing drivers, over the years, have endorsed various watch brands – like the 1976 Heuer created to celebrate Niki Lauda’s F1 title, the 40th anniversary edition of which is profiled on the facing page – the man who really built the indelible link between the two was Paul Newman. An Oscar winning actor, Newman was also a certifiable petrolhead and racer himself. Later in his life, he even ran a very successful racing team in America. In his best years as a racer, he was almost always seen with a Rolex Cosmograph Daytona on his wrist – to the extent that the model worn by him went on to become one of the most famous driving watches in the world.
In fact, such was his fame that this particular Rolex model is now commonly referred to as the ‘Paul Newman Daytona.’ What’s more, these are regarded as some of the most collectible watches in the world. How they became so collectible is a bit murky, but legend has it that Newman appeared in an Italian magazine wearing his Daytona, and collectors caught on to the watch being collectible and valuable.
To put it in perspective, one of the rarer ‘Paul Neman’ Daytona’s in gold was just auctioned and netted a cool $3.7 million dollars – making it the most expensive Daytona ever! So, gentlemen, remember, even if you can’t be as cool as Paul Newman, you can always drive up your cool factor by getting yourself a Newman Daytona. If you can afford one, that is.