Classic cars: Zenith’s Auto Tour on the roads of France
This year, the brand from Le Locle, Switzerland, acts as the official timer of the Tour Auto. A special flamboyant edition adds to the symbolic colors of the legendary 1969’s “El Primero”. Full review.
Every beginning of summer for the last 23 years has witnessed the preparations as the roads dry out. Out of thin air, automotive passions wake up after a period of hibernation. Sparks suddenly gush from the eyes of classic car drivers. The engines are pampered, the bodyworks polished and the leather jackets are at the ready to add some extra miles to their experience.
This year, Zenith was appointed official timer of the Tour Auto, which boded well as its entrance in the race coincided with the 24th edition of the famous classic cars race event. In the world of horology, it is a rather welcoming number.
Hence, between 20th and 25th April 2015, timepieces capable of accurately measuring short times and their intervals could be seen at the wrists of both organizers and drivers. Zenith chronographs, made in vintage colors and equipped with ancient reliable calibers of 36,000 vibrations per hour, are still manufactured in the Neuchâtel Mountains in Switzerland.
Familiar faces at the crossroads of legends
Between relax and concentration, the old capricious mechanics and the brightness of the personalities boarding the adventure, unfolds the whole event with only two categories. The first one deals with timing and hence everything has to be swift – the fastest the better – while the other one measures regularity; i.e. good speed and time management. Everyone was well served and the drivers, more than eager to race on the open roads, were the happy holders of a racing license.
It all started at the Grand Palais in Paris, where the cars were exhibited to the public and the competitors were able to assess their opponents. Some celebrities, like Felix Baumgartner, were seen at the starting point. He was in a wonderful no. 63 Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwig, accompanied by the car owner and co-driver, Hermann Layher, who sees over the famous Sinheim Museum. The driver is well known for his highly mediatized record: a free fall at the border between the earth’s atmosphere and space. The happening caused the watchmaking brand’s fame to rise. The space survivor proudly wore one of the 500 specimens of the very special and limited edition of the “Zenith Chrono master El Primero 1969 TOUR AUTO”, introduced by Zenith to celebrate joining the event.
Journey Log-book: hands-on test
Zenith’s CEO, Aldo Magada, also took part in the race on board of the stunning no. 241 Jaguar E-Type 3.8, year 1964, which was prepared and driven by Daniel Spadari. In Magada’s opinion, there are sparkles that do not deceive: the burst of passion is ever-present. The same passion that can be seen in the pastel color bands that cross the dial of the iconic timepiece from the punctured leather strap.
Having worn the El Primero chronograph during a five-day summer break driving around France and visiting legendary circuits, I can say that it is an incredible mechanical creation, with a confirmed character for racing. The piece then brings the opportunity for those who already own an El Primero to be tempted by this very special version. And for those who have always dreamed of having one, it offers the promise of a legendary – and different– version.