SIHH 2017: Clifton Club Shelby® Cobra Limited Edition “Spirit of an icon”

SIHH 2017: Clifton Club Shelby® Cobra Limited Edition “Spirit of an icon”

Exceptional design has the power to move us at first glance. Yet, its magic is far more intricate than simply capturing the eye. The true measure of a design icon is its ability to contribute to performance and precision. 

Rise of a Champion

It is a formula known as form follows function: style and engineering in perfect balance to deliver an unparalleled experience to its owner.

Baume & Mercier has followed this philosophy of perfection for 187 years. Each timepiece we create is a handcrafted study of how design can deepen craftsmanship and quality. A masterwork to be cherished and a statement of pride for those forged in the same restless spirit of exploration, passion and confidence.

Today, we are thrilled to extend our exclusive Shelby Cobra® collection with a focus on its most enduring design achievement. Our inspiration is the legendary Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe*, the most iconic car in American motorsport. 

The Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe represents the hopes, dreams and monumental effort of a group of hot rodders who changed the way the world perceived American cars and it captured the public’s hearts when it captured the world championship.

Always looking for an edge, Carroll Shelby asked Peter Brock, now recognized as one of the greatest automotive designers of our lifetime, to sketch a new, better body that could be adapted to the existing Cobra chassis. Then he assigned his most important development engineer, Ken Miles, to the project. Even though many were skeptical that it would be successful, Carroll continued to finance and support development of the Cobra Daytona Coupe by his team.

Quietly working in Carroll Shelby’s crowded Venice, Calif., racing garage, Brock, Miles and other team members brought this vision of an aerodynamic GT racer to life against incredible odds. In just 90 days, the Daytona Coupe went from sketch to finished car, proving itself a winner from its first race in 1964.

Shelby’s tenacity paid off. During a spectacular initial season, Shelby American repeatedly put the Daytona Coupe in the winner’s circle. Dan Gurney and Bob Bondurant drove a Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe to win its class at Le Mans that year, the first victory at that 24 hour race by an American car.

The Daytona Coupe enabled the Shelby American race team to dominate and win the International Manufacturer's GT Championship in 1965. It was the first time an American manufacturer won an international race series. Then Shelby American used a Daytona to set 25 land speed records. These achievements were due to the Shelby’s streamlined design, which created unmatched performance.

In celebration of the Daytona’s legacy, Peter Brock personally joined with Baume & Mercier and Design Director Alexandre Peraldi to create a collection that sets a new standard in style and presence. The result is the Clifton Club Shelby® Cobra Limited Editions, pinnacle chronographs launched for the first time within the Clifton collection. Every sweeping line and detail present on the iconic Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe has been interpreted in stunning form.

* Shelby American, Inc., is the official Manufacturer of Record of the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe, and the Carroll Hall Shelby Trust is recognized by the United States Patent & Trademark Office as the owner of the shape and design trademark (the “trade dress”) of this iconic vehicle.

Triumph of Will

Spending time in Carroll’s Venice racing garage whenever he could, Peter realized that given the wealth of driving talent on the Shelby team, his dream of professional racing may take a back seat. But there was a more pressing issue that demanded his attention. 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 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 late1930s, 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. The result was the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe, a GT car with a style the world had never seen before. 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 Daytona would fly.

Celebrating courage and ambition is at the heart of the new Clifton Club Shelby® Cobra watches. 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 chronographs that celebrate life’s special achievements, as reflected in the innovation and passion of the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe.

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Baume et Mercier introduces the new Clifton Club Shelby Cobra watch

Baume & Mercier at Retromobile Paris

Baume & Mercier CEO SIHH 2017 closing speech

Design Director Alexandre Peraldi talks about the new Clifton Club Shelby Cobra watch

Peter Brock talks about the design of the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe