Baume & Mercier Clifton Club Shelby Cobra Collection
The almost forgotten Shelby Cobra collection still is one of the most fascinating sports collections out there
Baume & Mercier is the only brand to actually partner with two iconic brands of American motor racing: Shelby Cobra and Indian Motorcycles.
The Baume & Mercier Shelby Cobra collection has been today complemented by the partnership the Swiss brand signed with Indian Mororcycles but there's no doubt it still is one of the most alluring partnerships between classic watchmaking and classic racing. When it was firts launched it just seemed like an experiment but the Swiss brand actually brought back to life the myth of a big sports car manufacturer called Carroll Shelby and gave a sporty and unexpected personality to the classic Capeland chrono that has finally handed the baton to the Clifton Club.
In watch-making, the concept of “co-branding” has almost disappeared (take a look at what Richard Mille and Hublot have done respectively) to leave room to the more attractive and intense – even more credible – concept of “partnership”, where two types of experience fuse together to give birth to products, whose design and mechanics get their inspiration from different sectors.
In the history of watchmaking there are plenty of examples where new timepieces drew their inspiration from a car
When it comes to watch-making and cars, the union is almost natural; simply take a look at the amount of luxury cars, whose dashboards are equipped with quartz timepieces or even mechanic watches designed by big brands (Bugatti, Bentley are two of the most obvious examples). Likewise, the style of a car has also influenced the style of a timepiece, like it happened in the 30s, when Alfred Dunhill took inspiration from the lights hosted inside Rolls Royce interior to craft the original version of today's City-Fighter.
We will never know whether a Baume & Mercier Shelby Cobra will ever be fitted inside a Mustang Shelby Cobra GT (today, the brand Shelby is used by Ford) but that logo keeps equipping the chrono central hand tip of a Baume & Mercier.
Quite an interesting source of inspiration
Despite all, the inspiration source of the brand is not your typical Cobra but rather one of its extremely rare versions and one of the most incredible (and fast) successes in the history of sports car racing. Carroll's intuition and his willingness to improve the performance of his own creation pushed him to get in touch at the time with Peter Brock; a brilliant designer to whom he asked to come up with a chassis that could enhance even further the already extraordinary performances of the Cobra.
In this project, Carroll cooperated with a famous engineer called Ken Miles. Carroll's vision, Peter's intuition for aerodynamics and Ken's experience, contributed to the creation of a successful mixture, whose result - obtained in just 90 days - translated into a car that could beat the original Cobra (and the competition too) on every level.
A top performer: the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupè CSX2299.
The legendary Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupè CSX2299 was born that day. Its maximum speed could beat by nearly 36 miles per hour the top speed of the Small Block while guaranteeing more stability and agility at the same time. If you take a look at the car's performance, it is quite obvious that the new shape had reduced the aerodynamic drag of the car while increasing the downforce in corners, thus creating a racing car that Dan Gurney and Bob Bondurant brought to victory at Le Mans and in other competitions too.
One of the eight CSX2299 ever made was on display at the Baume & Mercier's booth at last year's SIHH. Peter, that designed one of the most performing chassis in the history of GT car design, has been deeply involved in the design of the new Baume et Mercier Clifton Club Shelby Cobra CSX2299 Limited Edition and the other two versions: the Baume & Mercier Clifton Club 10343 and the Baume & Mercier Clifton Club 10342.
The dial of the Baume & Mercier Clifton Club Shelby Cobra CSX2299 Limited Edition is divided into two parts; one is blue and the second one is silver. They faithfully copy the livery available on the back of the Daytona.
The chrono buttons feature the same engraved knurling as the racing pedals, while the writing “Cobra” located on the left hand side of the case is a tribute to the legendary 8-cylinder-head called “small block”, where a matted and polished finish alternate. The rotor is a small-scale copy of the wheel of a CSX2299.
The dial on the Flyback Chrono reference CSX 2299.
If you are familiar with the brand's collection, you will notice that the two counters belong to a Flyback calibre. The Baume & Mercier Clifton Club Shelby Cobra CSX2299 Limited Edition is infact equipped with the same beautiful La-Joux Perret 8147-2 calibre running at a frequency of 4Hz and guaranteeing up to 42 hours of power reserve that equips the Baume & Mercier Capeland Chronograph Flyback, while the central chrono hand is red and its end is crafted in the shape of a cobra (the logo of the small American atelier).
On the tachymetric scale is listed the maximum speed reached by the Cobra Daytona during a trial racing on a salt lake; 196 miles per hour, an exceptional result at that time and the reason why only 196 pieces of the Baume & Mercier Clifton Club Shelby Cobra CSX2299 Limited Edition will be made. Each timepiece comes in a silver-coloured box that contains a 1:43 small-scale car model.
The Flyback Chrono is complemented by two three-subdial chronos: the Baume & Mercier Clifton Club 10343 e Baume et Mercier Clifton Club 10342.
Together with the Baume & Mercier Clifton Club Shelby Cobra CSX2299 Limited Edition, two chrono versions have been released, they remind us of the classic three-counter-layout of the Clifton and, on this occasion, they also display the double coloured strip that runs from the bonnet to the rear wing. With the goal of creating a family feeling between the Limited Edition version and these two chronos, the dial of the chrono displays the 30-minute-register and the 12-hour-register in a blue colour that contrasts with the silver dial and vice versa, thus imitating the look and feel of the two-counter-chrono.
All the versions share the same high-tech fabric clothing strip (blue on the Limited Edition and black on the two three-counter-chronos) with a carbon-look finish, a folding clasp and steel buckle, and the brand's engraving. Baume & Mercier is the only brand that used the same steel buckle that it uses on its leather strap on the rubber NATO strap of the new Clifton Club too.
The retail price of the Baume & Mercier Clifton Club Shelby Cobra CSX2299 Limited Edition is 7,450€ for each of the 196 pieces available. It is not exactly a popular price, but you're in front of quite an uncommon timepiece since the amount of timepieces manufactured makes it a “collectible item” and also because Baume & Mercier didn't craft a stock flyback version either. For the chrono versions like the Baume & Mercier Clifton Club Shelby Cobra 10342 and the Baume & Mercier Clifton Club Shelby Cobra 10343 the retail price is 4100€.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®