Editor’s Note: Around 12 months ago, Baume & Mercier unleashed a watch that was quite different for the typically dressy brand – the aggressively styled Capeland Shelby Cobra. In a few days we’re going to lift the lid on chapter two, as Andrew travels to France to discover the Capeland Shelby Cobra 1963. But before that, a quick refresher on the original Shelby Cobra is in order. Gentlemen, start your engines.
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. Phew.
The Cobra was brutal on the track, losing only one race in three years of competition, its success culminating with a winning run at the 1965 FIA International GT Championship. This win earned Shelby a unique position in motorsports – being the first and only individual to win as a driver, manager and manufacturer.
Baume & Mercier have chosen their big 44mm Capeland chronograph as the basis of this tribute, and added numerous automotive flourishes. The guardsman blue dial is bisected by two subtle matte racing stripes, the subdials reference the Cobra’s gauges and the hands have been inspired by the steering wheel. But the coolest feature is the counterweight to the chronograph seconds hand, which is shaped into Shelby’s striking cobra logo.
Having a chance to try both the steel and gold editions of this watch on yesterday, I am (as always) impressed by the quality of Baume & Mercier. But don’t just take my word for it. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Mr Phillip Lynn at lunch, who is the treasurer of the Cobra Car Club of NSW (it was one of his cars out the front). Mr Lynn was a big fan of the watch, which is unsurprising as he’s clearly a fan of the Cobra. But what was a little more surprising was that Mr Lynn also had a long history in the watch industry, having spent much of the ‘60s working for Willis & Sons, a jewellery wholesaler (that we actually wrote about here) who imported many Swiss brands including Rolex. So Mr Lynn recognised the attention to detail and the level of quality on the Capeland.
The Baume & Mercier Capeland Shelby Cobra is a great tribute to a legend in the world of motorsports, but most importantly they’ve gone to the effort to come up with a design that appeals to Cobra fans and watch lovers alike.
Baume & Mercier Capeland Shelby Cobra Australian pricing and availability
The Capeland Cobra in steel is a limited edition of 1965 pieces and has a retail price of $5690. The 18k red gold version is limited to 98 pieces and priced at $24,700. Both models are available exclusively from Watches of Switzerland.