You can say what you like about partnerships between brands and historic motorsport events. Many see only the commercial side of the branded watches, unappreciative of the efforts of the watchmaker. But for many participants at events such as the Tour Auto, the limited-production 'rally watches’ are a beautiful, if not entirely favourable reminder of an enjoyable and exciting event.
A movement with history
The El Primero Chronomaster 1969 'Tour Auto' will again be the official watch of the French event. The limited-edition model is almost completely sold out – mainly because Tour Auto participants were given the opportunity to purchase the chronograph before the release date. The watch is equipped with the legendary El Primero automatic movement, which was temporarily used as the basis for the Rolex Daytona Cosmograph. A unique feature is the partially open dial, a little reminiscent of the open bonnet of a classic racing car. As France is the host country of the Tour Auto, a band in the colours of the Tricolore stretches along the right side of the bracelet and dial. Finally, a place for the official logo of the Tour can be found on the glass bottom of the housing.
The Zenith teams enjoy their racing
Zenith's commitment extends beyond the role of the official timepiece, however. The Swiss watchmaker is keen to actively take part in the races, entering four teams in total. Alongside ‘Space man’ Felix Baumgartner, Zenith CEO Aldo Magada will compete in the 2,000km tour in a 1964 Jaguar E-type. And even if Zenith is the official timekeeper of the Tour Auto, we were assured that no advantage would be offered to the ‘factory teams’.