He’s been George Lucas’ “hero” since they were kids (but he didn’t watch Star Wars until his own children forced him to), he’s one of the key players in the story of the Ferrari-beating Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe and he now has a watch named after him. Race car driver Allen Grant has led quite a life. And that’s the right turn of phrase. Allen Grant has spent a lot of it in the lead. As for the eponymous watch, it’s the rather comely Capeland Shelby Cobra 1963 Allen Grant model to be precise, limited to just 15 pieces. And it’s probably not gilding the lily to say that – in the same way that the Shelby Cobra changed the game on Ferrari, who’d won 10 of 12 FIA sports-car titles in the previous 12 years up until 1965 – the sporty Capeland Cobra has changed the game for Baume & Mercier. A few months ago, after an adrenaline-fuelled lap of the historic Paul Ricard racetrack in Provence, I sat down with this legendary driver to find out about his life behind the wheel. These are the five quotes that sum it up. ON HAVING A WATCH WITH HIS NAME ON IT:… Read More
There’s a phrase that really applies here. For “time to stand still.” Walking into the Paul Ricard race track in Provence, France, you get the sense that, in this space, it actually is the 1960s. Not like the ‘60s, but really, the ‘60s. That, somehow, nobody has informed the iconic venue (with a font that our creative director would die for) that it’s 50-something years later. The effect is heightened by the 30 vintage cars lined up in the pit lane, crackling and rumbling in wait for us. This is the greatest number of Shelby cars ever assembled in Europe, to Baume & Mercier CEO Alain Zimmerman’s knowledge, hence the name of the event, ‘Shelby Only’. Not one of them worth less than half a million dollars, and going up to the mulitple millions, should their drivers ever sell them, which, they tell me, they wouldn’t. The effect is all but confirmed by the drivers and owners themselves. Some are ex pros. Most are wearing ‘60s era padded jumpsuits with genuine ‘Le Mans’ and other patches embroidered on them. All love their work. This was no chore at all, to be out in the Provence sun, hammering around the track with watch journalists as… Read More
The runaway success of the Baume & Mercier Capeland Shelby Cobra, the first edition of which is now completely sold out in both steel and gold variants, has led to yet another release within the range. But this time, following on from the also limited 1963 and 1963 ‘Competition’ models launched at SIHH – one of which I’m trying out today, at a lavish trip in Marseilles France, centred around the Circuit Paul Ricard race track – the numbers are limited to just 15 (yes, fifteen) pieces of each of the four ‘Legendary Drivers’ that contributed to the myth of the Shelby Cobra. They are, essentially, a mix and match of the elements in the 1963 models, changing out a yellow tachymeter, yellow leather strap elements – stitching, yellow upside, downside etc – a yellow second hand and the lucky number of each of the four legendary drivers in the seconds subdial of each model. Interestingly, all four models are offered in stainless steel and ADLC and will only be slightly more expensive than the 1963 and original Shelby Cobra model, at $7100. It is rumoured that each territory will receive a full set of four. It is also rumoured that all… Read More
The Capeland Shelby Cobra was a surprise hit for Baume & Mercier last year, and at SIHH 2016 they’ve unveiled two new novelties continuing their partnership with Carroll Shelby Inc. The Shelby Cobra 1963 and the Shelby Cobra 1963 Competition are, like last year’s original, inspired by the golden age of motorsports. Instead of classic Shelby blue, this year Baume & Mercier have opted for a darker palette – a black dial with subtle racing stripe bisecting the lower half of the dial, accented with bright yellow and green highlights. It’s an attractive design, and B&M tell us the inspiration for these colour choices is a Roadster that won the 1963 Sebring 12 hour race (which also explains the ‘1963’ moniker on these models). Along with the dashboard inspired subdials and the cobra-fied counter-weight on the yellow-tipped chronograph hand, the caseback is marked with a ‘15’ – the number of the Sebring conquering car. Behind the sapphire caseback is a Valjoux 7753 with a PVD rotor. The 1963 Competition is an interesting variant – it comes on a rubber strap and the middle case has been given a black DLC finish. It’s quite a sporty look for the fairly classic pebble case… Read More
Every year Baume & Mercier release an emblematic limited edition that speaks to the brand’s 185-year history and legacy. This year, they’re celebrating with something unusual – a beautiful and complicated pocket watch. This red gold Clifton 1830 features an unusual five-minute repeater, which strikes the time to the nearest five minutes when you operate the slide at five o’clock. The prettily finished movement is powered by a Dubois Depraz module, which is shown off behind the sapphire caseback. Pocket watches, more than any other timepiece, are suited to commemorating big events, so it’s apt that the way this Baume & Mercier is showcased in its box adds pomp to the occasion. Jean Conrié, Country Manager of Baume & Mercier Australia and New Zealand, talks us through the details of this special watch’s presentation.
While we were at Watches & Wonders in Hong Kong in September 2015, we caught up with Mr Jean Conrié, Country Manager of Baume & Mercier Australia and New Zealand and we couldn’t help but notice the dress watch with distinctive central moonphase on his wrist. Turns out it’s from the new Classima collection (reference 10219 for those playing at home). So we took the opportunity to get Jean’s firsthand thoughts on this clean and elegant 40mm piece. Baume & Mercier have designed the Classima to be the perfect first ‘good watch’, and everything about it, from the dressy dial to the solid construction and robust quartz movement, down to the solid case back, perfect for a personalised engraving echoes that intention.
The story in a second: Baume & Mercier celebrate the life and legacy of a racing legend with the Capeland Shelby Cobra. Yesterday I had the great pleasure of attending the Australian launch of Baume & Mercier’s latest limited edition – The Capeland Shelby Cobra. Any misapprehensions around what the watch was about were shattered (as were my eardrums) as a convoy of Shelby Cobras pulled up in front of the restaurant. The Shelby Cobra is instantly recognisable – to car lovers and luddites alike. Its low lines and sleek curves have made it an icon of American motorsports. There’s no hiding the power in this car. Or the sexiness. The Capeland Shelby Cobra is Baume & Mercier’s tribute to this automotive icon and the man behind it, Carroll Shelby. Shelby was a leading racer in the 1950s, until health concerns forced him off the track. But Shelby still had a passion for racing, so he was determined to build a car that would beat the then dominant European racers. With a mantra of ‘more power less weight’ Shelby fitted a big Ford V8 into an AC Ace chassis, and in 1962 the Cobra was born. That’s a 260 cubic inch engine in a car weighing only 916kg…. Read More