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Baume & Mercier – Clifton Club

connoisseur May 16, 2017 0
Baume & Mercier – Clifton Club

Celebrating courage and ambition is at the heart of the new Clifton Club Shelby® Cobra watch editions. It is a statement of arrival for those who believe no goal is out of reach, and maintain the relentless drive to accomplish the impossible. With its bold signature touches and elegant sense of purpose, this is a series of limited edition chronographs, elaborated in collaboration with designer Peter Brock, that celebrate life’s special achievements.

The Human Adventure

By the end of the 1963 season, it was apparent that the 289 Cobra roadster needed a roof to compete and win down the straightaways of the high speed European circuits. Shelby was at a vital crossroads.

Shelby American initially fitted a hardtop on the existing Shelby Cobra roadster for aerodynamic purposes. While somewhat successful, Carroll Shelby dreamed of building a faster version of the car for international racing.

Competition rules stated that a team could change a car’s chassis or body, but not both. Many on the team wanted to alter the Cobra’s engineering. Peter Brock and Carroll Shelby saw a different opportunity, and it would change automotive design forever.

Peter’s inspiration was a paper he found several years before. It was a study of aerodynamics done by Dr. Wunibald Kamm in Germany in the late 1930s, and it captivated Peter’s imagination. While he couldn’t read the text, he understood the drawings, which went against everything designers thought they knew about airflow. Peter’s intention was to adapt these aerodynamic ideas for Shelby. He knew that reducing the drag of the car could lead to a major speed gain more than increasing horsepower. Indeed the calculations showed that the car would need 500hp to reach 180mph.

The next day, Peter taped paper sheets to the garage floor and began sketching. Slowly, the unforgettable shape emerged: rounded front, fairly flat roof, tapered width and a chopped tail to improve downforce as well signify a permanent break with the teardrop shape of conventional race design. Its design was so radical that no one, including aviation experts, thought the car would work. But Carroll wanted a secret weapon for the 1964 season, and gave the go ahead.

After working with Ken Miles to build a plywood model to smooth out the aesthetics, the Shelby team began together to rapidly assemble a prototype. In only 90 days, design and engineering worked around the clock to meet the competition deadline. The most aerodynamic car in America, powered by the workhorse Cobra 289 engine. Now it was time to see if the Shelby® Cobra Daytona would fly.

Racing to Victory

Shortly before the first race of the 1964 season, the Shelby team took their creation to Riverside for a test drive. After just 20 laps, racing director and champion Shelby driver Ken Miles walked up to Carroll Shelby and delivered his verdict. The Daytona Coupe wasn’t just lightning fast, but beautifully poised and stable. It was ready to compete without a single modification. Any question about Peter’s aerodynamic design was silenced forever. At its namesake track, the Daytona Coupe quickly established its fearsome reputation as the fastest GT car in the world. It outperformed by such a wide margin that Peter and Carroll Shelby decided to slow the engine to boost fuel economy.

It was an ingenious secret only known to the Shelby team. First they would lower the RPMs (revolutions/min.) to let the car run longer. Then, in the closing laps, the RPMs would be restored to turn the Daytona into a rocket.

At Le Mans 1964, the Daytona CSX2299 driven by famous duo Bob Bondurant/ Dan Gurney set the world alight with a blistering 196 mph (315 km/h) performance at the famous Mulsanne straight (36 mph faster than the acclaimed Cobra small block).

The Shelby® Cobra Daytona Coupe returned to competition in 1965 in dominating fashion. From Sebring and the Nürburgring to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Shelby fielded six Daytona Coupes to give America its first GT class World Sportscar Championship, culminating with glory at Reims on US Independence Day: July 4, 1965. At the end of the season, CSX2287 set 25 USAC/FIA world speed records on the dusty salt flats of Bonneville.

50 years later, Peter returned to his original drawings to personally collaborate with Baume & Mercier on the creation of these Clifton Club Shelby® Cobra Limited Editions.

The result is the Clifton Club Shelby® Cobra Limited Editions. Every sweeping line and detail present on the iconic Shelby® Cobra Daytona Coupe has been interpreted in stunning form.

At the heart of the Clifton Club Shelby® Cobra collection are 2 limited edition chronographs that exude style and performance. Featuring automatic Swiss-made movement (Valjoux 7750) for true accuracy, all elements of the design are born from the original Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe, and created in consultation with Daytona designer Peter Brock.

The 44mm diameter case forged from polished and satin-finished stainless steel matches the aerodynamic contours of the timeless Daytona Coupe body shape. In the center is a modern dial available in silver-colored or Daytona blue replete with Arabic numerals, vertical chronograph ringed counters inspired by those of the dashboard highlighted with red touches, day and date displays at 3 o’clock, and a tachymeter scale placed into the flange. The hours and minutes hands shaped as the steering wheel feature Superluminova* C1 blue emission, while the Cobra logo created by Peter Brock is forged onto the chronograph’s second hand.

When you wish to control the Clifton Club Shelby® Cobra 1964 edition, two inspired design touches come into play. Key functions are activated via exact replicas of the Daytona’s foot pedals. The magic continues with the Daytona’s bold alloy wheel design featured on the oscillating weight. The limited edition number (one out of 1964) is etched in tribute to the year of this iconic car’s introduction.

For style and comfort, a black “automotive carbon-like” calfskin strap with red rubberized soft-touch calfskin lining is standard, offset by an adjustable triple-folding clasp with security push-pieces. Completing the tribute to legendary car and designer are subtle vertical racing stripes on the Clifton Club Shelby® Cobra dial.

The Clifton Club Shelby® Cobra 1964 arrive to its owner in elegant black and silver packaging, and includes an exclusive 1:43 scale model prized by collectors of the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe. A custom brochure that presents the history of the Daytona Coupe is also provided as an expression of our gratitude.