Team-BHP > Shifting gears


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 27th October 2021, 00:39   #1
Newbie
 
hey.rudey's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Mumbai
Posts: 7
Thanked: 134 Times
Default Dials and Dials: A look at the joint history & culture shared by automobiles & timepieces

Short disclaimer: This is not an advertisement of any kind, rather a collection of my own thoughts on what I have experienced and felt. Content (both written and visual) present in this article is thoroughly researched, and shared with the consent of the external contributors. References and picture credits have been mentioned at the end. Please do drop in a few tips and suggestions to make my content enjoyable for everyone and to help it remain within the forum guidelines.

Prologue:

I was 16 when I started the process of restoring my great grandfather’s Swiss watches. As a teenager, they were fascinating to me. I saw them more than a bequest left by the first generation of my family; the design, accuracy and history associated with them pulled me towards them. I would (and still do) selectively wear them for certain occasion and events, and would take them to places where I would learn more about them.

Dials and Dials: A look at the joint history & culture shared by automobiles & timepieces-whatsapp-image-20211022-13.49.46.jpeg

Mr. Almeida’s HMT Kohinoor with a restored 1933 Studebaker


In all the outings I went to, I observed one thing: watch guys are also car guys. The way they describe their garage and their collection, it is very similar; as if a watch calibre is an engine, or a case shape and the shape of their cars were sketched by the same hand. I am well aware of the association of watch manufacturers with motorsport, but how deeply it affected modern day drivers was something I wanted to find out.

After interacting with like minded enthusiasts, and through survey and research, I think I may have found an answer. The bond between our wrist and our feet maybe more symbolic than we think.

I welcome you to this two-part journey of discovery, adrenaline, and smiles.

Chapter 1/ Jaeger & LeCoultre: Wrist, Road, Air

Two instruments which come close to watches are Tachometers and Stopwatches. The relationship between these two instruments was rather simple in the older days: push the tach to the max to see the stopwatch in the lows. They connected the driver with their cars, and pushed them to be better behind the wheel. They were pure instruments; not just fancy add ons you see in modern sports or project cars. And may I add stylish too!

If we have to trace Clotho’s string back to its spindle, the origin of the first popularly known watch manufacturer’s instrumentation in a car may lie with Jaeger (pronunciation: Ja-Jay-r).

Name:  1934 MG Midget PA.jpg
Views: 211
Size:  134.8 KB

1934 MG Midget PA


Edmond Jaeger laid the roots for his iconic brand in Paris, 1880. He was incessant devotee to the art of developing machinery that would record speeds; a pioneer in developing chronometers, tachometers, and clocks for aviation and automobiles. He soon collaborated with LeCoultre (pronunciation: Luh-Coo-truh) in 1907, to support their contract with Cartier to produce movements for their watches. With the onset of World War I, Jaeger had to diversify to stay relevant in the tempestuous times that followed.

With LeCoultre by their side, Jaeger began building aviation instruments for British and French pilots. The encomiastic response by these pilots was so revered that even top German pilots such as The Red Baron adorned his cockpit with Jaeger instruments. These instruments were salvaged from the Baron’s wreckage as per reports at the time of his historic defeat.

With the success Jaeger and LeCoultre had achieved in aviation, they soon set their sights on automobiles. And boy what a job they did! My introduction to Jaeger and Jaeger-LeCoultre was with the Maserati 3500 GT Vignale. In the 1920s, the two companies began making high quality 4 day and 8 day clocks for European and American manufacturers. They cemented a factory with a workforce of 700 in Britain to avoid the protectionist measure adopted by the British government. Their instrumentations were then found in Bamford and Martin (Aston Martin), Alfa Romeo, Bugatti, Ferrari, Maserati, Abarth, Lamborghini, Bentley, Citroën, MG, Lancia, Renault, and Rover.

Dials and Dials: A look at the joint history & culture shared by automobiles & timepieces-alfa-romeo-8c.png

Jaeger instruments in an Alfa Romeo 8C


Analog instruments are now instruments that are widely celebrated by car enthusiasts. A few restomods such as the Singer 911 and the Alfaholics GTA-R have kept the analog tradition alive. Many enthusiasts still source and use analog instruments built by Jaeger, Smith, and VDO for their restoration or restomod projects. The reason for me to get so sybaritic about them: There is beauty in its simplicity. I find Colin Chapman’s words “Simplify, then add lightness” true in the case of these old dials. You may wonder why such a comparison, but you will get it when you look at these dials. Jaeger didn’t just build instruments for the cars, they built dreams for enthusiasts like me for projects that are yet to come.

Dials and Dials: A look at the joint history & culture shared by automobiles & timepieces-1964-lambo-350-gtv.jpg

1964 Lamborghini 350 GTV


Chapter 2/ Heuer: The King of Cool

I am not a big fan of TAG Heuer. But the Jack Heuer era watches; I WANT one. Especially the Monza.

These were THE watches for a racing driver. You would find these everywhere; be it the tarmac and oval, or dirt and gravel. The Heuer (pronunciation: Hoy-yer) family contributed a great deal to sports and motorsports alike. Till date their patents and inventions are used in major competitions by teams and enthusiasts alike. But what made Heuer so great in the past?

The answer lies in the innovations made by the Heuer Family. The patent of the oscillating pinion, founder Edouard’s creation of the dash mounted Time of Trip Chronograph for automobiles and aviation, Charles-August’s invention of the Mikrograph stopwatch with an accuracy of 1/100th of a second, Charles-Edouard’s Solunar watch, and many more. The Heuers did not want to create time pieces; they wanted to create the best instruments of all time.

Dials and Dials: A look at the joint history & culture shared by automobiles & timepieces-heuercarreracatalogue1963.jpg

An early Heuer Catalogue (1963)


A huge part of Heuer’s success also goes to the genius of Jack Heuer, the last Heuer to helm the reigns of the family business. Jack displayed precocious traits from an early age; he inspired his father Charles-Edouard to create the Solunar at age 15. This was all based on what he had learnt from his school professor! At age 15, the only thoughts I had were of Star Wars. He was up to date with international tastes, and*between 1959 and 1960 spent a great deal of time in the US, creating awareness of the brand, building distribution, and establishing Heuer with clients such as the Sports Car Club of America. He would participate in rallies with his trusted red MGA sports car, a gift from his father for being the first generation of Heuers to graduate from university.

Dials and Dials: A look at the joint history & culture shared by automobiles & timepieces-12tagheuerjackheuerbirthday.jpg

Jack Heuer


He was initially of two minds when it came to the family business, but all this changed when he bought majority stakes and ascertained control of the company within the first 2 years of joining. Jack’s uncle wanted to sell the company due to plummeting profits and lack of sales. In order to prevent the deal from ever taking place, he took a loan to purchase shares into Heuer. He was the gifted shares by his father, thus bringing his stakes to 51%. Enough to take control, but what after that?

A man on a mission, in autumn 1961 he decided to make a sporty chronograph watch, with a turning bezel and a 12 hour register. The result was the Autavia. The original Autavia was a stopwatch described by collectors as “Heuer's first chronograph to have a model name, as the previous chronographs were identified only by their reference numbers”. It was initially a successful instrument when it was introduced, but by the late 50s it was in a quagmire situation.

In 1958, when Jack was 26; he participated in an automotive rally in Switzerland. A keen map-reader, he was appointed as the co-driver by the team. Their car was in the lead towards the end of the rally, but Jack misread the dial of the 12-hour dashboard timer by a minute, which caused his team to finish overall third. To add to his chagrin, the stopwatch he used was a Heuer Autavia. This resulted in the birth of the Monte Carlo stopwatch (and coincidently Heuer’s naming nomenclature) and the discontinuation of the Autavia stopwatch.

Dials and Dials: A look at the joint history & culture shared by automobiles & timepieces-screenshot-20211026-11.12.05-pm.png

Autavia Stopwatch (left); Autavia Viceroy (right)


Early 60s Heuer watches were conservative in design. The Autavia wristwatch was another story. It used a Valjoux 72 hand-wound, 17 jewel anti-magnetic movement, that would perfectly work at altitudes upto 35’ 000 feet and depths of 330 feet under water. It was primarily marketed for pilots, sportsmen and scientists. The word Autavia is a portmanteau word made out of AUTomobile and AVIAtion. The result was phenomenal. The watch had taken to track almost immediately; in F1, Le Mans, and Rallying. Jack promoted his watch and brand to drivers, and sponsored them individually. Jo Siffert was huge promotor of the brand until his tragic accident in 1971; this led to Heuer stopping all individual driver sponsorships, taking into account the dangers of motorsport.

Jack was early to realise the importance of prop masters in cinema. To be better than the competition, he wanted Heuer to be more known than them. He sought approval of Don Nunley to feature Heuer watches in his next big project, a movie well known in history by car enthusiasts: Le Mans. In 1969, Jack designed and released the Monaco, a watch unique from the ones he had made before. When he was presented the square case, he saw potential in it. He wanted to make a unique chronograph watch; something more recognisable than their previously designed icons. The Monaco was also chosen to introduce the legendary Calibre 11 in the Heuer; a movement created in utmost secrecy by Heuer, Breitling, and Hamilton to bring an egalitarian competition against the mights of Zenith and Seiko. The Monaco featured a metallic blue dial to mark its stand against other chronographs, a black dial was introduced for traditional buyers. The watch however did not do as well as the Autavia and Carrera as Jack would have expected.

Dials and Dials: A look at the joint history & culture shared by automobiles & timepieces-screenshot-20211026-11.39.40-pm.png

Jo Siffert and Steve McQueen


The Monaco was the natural choice of Jack Heuer when it came to Le Mans. As per the different accounts I have read both Heuer, and McQueen and Nonely were eager to work with each other. Heuer provided six Monacos and two Autavias for shooting, as Autavias were popular in demand and low in numbers. The Monaco on the other hand, Heuer had an abundance of. Meanwhile, Steve McQueen wanted to be more like his friend Jo Siffert; a racing driver. He had learned how to drive from Siffert and borrowed everything from him; his style, jacket and his Monaco. McQueen chose the Monaco as his watch for Le Mans when asked by Jack Heuer, due to its unique styling. The crown on the left, and square case intrigued him. The rest is now history. The Monaco was put to sleep in 1971; only to be revived as a heritage model many years later.

Dials and Dials: A look at the joint history & culture shared by automobiles & timepieces-screenshot-20211027-12.25.27-am.png

One of the original movie Heuer Monaco watches


The third and probably the most iconic of Jack Heuer’s watches is the Carrera. This watch made Jack a puissant figure in watchmaking. The inspiration for this watch came from the most gruelling and daring race in the world, The Carrera Panamerica. In its lifespan of 5 years, more than two dozen drivers had lost their lives. It was an open road border-to-border race in Mexico covering more than 3500km with minimal safety precautions in place. Jack was in love with this sport. Inspired by the octane and adrenaline fuelled stories of this daring drive, a simple 36mm case, distinctive sharply faceted lugs, applied markers and slightly stepped sub-dials.* This first design was produced till 1970, in a range of different dial layouts, colours and case materials. The Valjoux movement was replaced by the Calibre 11 in 1969, and the watch till date is Jack’s favourite watch. Tag Heuer commemorated Jack’s contribution with a special limited edition designed exclusively by him.

Dials and Dials: A look at the joint history & culture shared by automobiles & timepieces-screenshot-20211027-12.12.52-am.png

Calibre 11 and the Carrera Jack Heuer Edition


Whatever I have accounted in this part of the two part blog, is just a smidge of how deep cars and watches run. Heuer went on to associate themselves with manufacturers such as Ferrari to create history with them in F1 and Le Mans. Mclaren followed suit, and now Aston Martin has done the same. Heuer defined a generation of racing for enthusiasts and automotive historians like me. They were true to racing and celebrated passion and spirit of motorsport with drivers, teams, and the audience. The “Chronographe Heuer” patch worn by racing drivers and McQueen is symbolic to this. The magic created by them was intense. Who could follow suit to this?

To be continued


References and picture credits:
Worn and Wound, Hodinkee, Tag Heuer, High Snobeity, Classic Heuer, Monochrome Watches, Quill and Pad, Time and Tide, Esquire, Haute Horologerie, Lux Mag, Calibre 11, Buzzufy, On the Dash, Wound for Life, Forbes, Getty Images, Philips Auctions, Rare Car Relics, Saxon Parts, Pinterest, Jaeger Tableau, Race Used, Watchnista, YouTube, Wikipedia, Revolution Watch
hey.rudey is offline   (40) Thanks
Old 27th October 2021, 08:20   #2
GTO
Team-BHP Support
 
GTO's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Bombay
Posts: 62,764
Thanked: 223,503 Times
Default re: Dials and Dials: A look at the joint history & culture shared by automobiles & timepieces

Simply awesome thread . Thanks for sharing! For aesthetics & style (other than functionality), I much prefer classy analog dials in cars. An Apple Watch can never be as classy as a Rolex or Omega and the same applies to cars = a digital cluster will never be as good-looking as a well-designed analog instrument cluster.

This is perfection IMHO:
Dials and Dials: A look at the joint history & culture shared by automobiles & timepieces-bmw530dgto10.jpg

At night:
Dials and Dials: A look at the joint history & culture shared by automobiles & timepieces-bmw530dgto11.jpg

When switched off:
Dials and Dials: A look at the joint history & culture shared by automobiles & timepieces-bmw530dgto12.jpg

Manufacturers, look at this and get INSPIRED. So unbelievably classy. The instrument cluster is your opportunity to show off. It is a design highlight of the cabin!
Dials and Dials: A look at the joint history & culture shared by automobiles & timepieces-tag.jpg
GTO is offline   (20) Thanks
Old 27th October 2021, 11:05   #3
Newbie
 
hey.rudey's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Mumbai
Posts: 7
Thanked: 134 Times
Default Re: Dials and Dials: A look at the joint history & culture shared by automobiles & timepieces

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Simply awesome thread . Thanks for sharing! For aesthetics & style (other than functionality), I much prefer classy analog dials in cars. An Apple Watch can never be as classy as a Rolex or Omega and the same applies to cars = a digital cluster will never be as good-looking as a well-designed analog instrument cluster.

This is perfection IMHO:
Attachment 2224367

At night:
Attachment 2224368

When switched off:
Attachment 2224369

Manufacturers, look at this and get INSPIRED. So unbelievably classy. The instrument cluster is your opportunity to show off. It is a design highlight of the cabin!
Attachment 2224370

@GTO absolutely true! A good instrument cluster connects us with our cars. I don't think I need a radio or anything else when I go out for a drive; just the tach to rev match, and heel and toe.

Also, wanted to extend a huge thank you to you and team TeamBHP. The support and encouragement you guys have extend towards the Lambo, Ferrari, and AMG posts is seriously amazing. You guys inspire me to write more! I would have messaged over the private box, but I don't have access to that feature yet

Once again thank you so much!
hey.rudey is offline   (2) Thanks
Old 27th October 2021, 13:09   #4
Team-BHP Support
 
Vid6639's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 17,047
Thanked: 36,358 Times
Default Re: Dials and Dials: A look at the joint history & culture shared by automobiles & timepieces

I simply cannot understand this new fad of digital displays. Car companies have cleverly fooled the public with graphics and fancy displays.

The screen is cheaper to make and most of the cost is software.

In comparison the dials required precision manufacturing as well as different materials and illumination ideas. They were indeed a work of art.

With Digital displays there is no character. One cannot tell a Skoda Octavia cluster from a Audi.

I wish this never came about. Moreover with improvements in technology the screen looks outdated much quicker than the retro dials. My 3 series dials have such an old world charm to them vs the new 330i anti clockwise digital display.
Vid6639 is offline   (23) Thanks
Old 28th October 2021, 12:14   #5
BHPian
 
Electromotive's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2021
Location: Terra
Posts: 123
Thanked: 557 Times
Default Re: Dials and Dials: A look at the joint history & culture shared by automobiles & timepieces

I, for one, am not too nostalgic about moving parts on my dash. General solutions like a LCD display trumps specialized, custom solutions. Doesn't hurt that such displays are cheaper to manufacture, more robust and offer greater customization for both the customer and the manufacturer.

Once oled or similar high contrast displays (microled?) make their way onto the dash, they will be able to display retro dials in very high fidelity, just like how smartwatches simulate retro dials. That should scratch the retro itch for most.
Electromotive is offline   (1) Thanks
Old 28th October 2021, 12:15   #6
BHPian
 
Rocketscience's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: Gurgaon
Posts: 316
Thanked: 593 Times
Default Re: Dials and Dials: A look at the joint history & culture shared by automobiles & timepieces

Not to mention the RPM needle shooting up as you revv across gears, can't get over that visceral feeling and all the digital solutions i have come across don't remotely match that feeling.

Not that i think it should stay analogue forever and once done right screens have the potential to display pretty much all the designs one can dream of and more, i also used to love the semi digital cluster of the Civic and even that does not look outdated or less cool to me even after 2 decades, but i'am more okay with semi digital (with analog RPM needle) than fully digital clusters.

Coming to watches, i like my apple watch but i for the life of me have still not been able to choose a particular watch face i truly love, they are all above averageish to me, the smart watch features are something that are not that useful (and lost their sheen and excitement after 10-15 days of use) and most are done/duplicated by your mobile phone in a better way anyways, but i'am still happy to rather buy this than spend lakhs on analog watches.
Rocketscience is online now   (4) Thanks
Old 28th October 2021, 12:34   #7
Newbie
 
Attorviator's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2021
Location: New Delhi
Posts: 14
Thanked: 66 Times
Default Re: Dials and Dials: A look at the joint history & culture shared by automobiles & timepieces

Brilliant thread! While looks are always subjective, I've always felt that VAG cars have brilliant dials.

In my opinion, most VAG cars, more or less feel very familiar when you look at the dash. Specially, VW & Audi.

Here are a bunch of pictures I've clicked of Foxhound over time-
Dials and Dials: A look at the joint history & culture shared by automobiles & timepieces-img_20190917_005106.jpg

Dials and Dials: A look at the joint history & culture shared by automobiles & timepieces-img_20190825_155205__02.jpg

Dials and Dials: A look at the joint history & culture shared by automobiles & timepieces-img_20200318_220348.jpg


Dials and Dials: A look at the joint history & culture shared by automobiles & timepieces-img_20200427_130851.jpg

Dials and Dials: A look at the joint history & culture shared by automobiles & timepieces-img_20191003_211233.jpg

Last one with my PRC 200-
Dials and Dials: A look at the joint history & culture shared by automobiles & timepieces-img_20210919_160511.jpg
Attorviator is online now   (8) Thanks
Old 28th October 2021, 13:25   #8
BHPian
 
harshad9493's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 30
Thanked: 20 Times
Default Re: Dials and Dials: A look at the joint history & culture shared by automobiles & timepieces

I'm a car collector as well as a person who has a deep love for a few Swiss Watches. Your article at the age of 70 is an inspiration.

It's so professionally researched as well as its chronological description is very well laid out.

Please let me know a message on how I can send you my Gmail ID so that I can save it as a document for reference.

I hate Rolex and Omega as they are only show-off watches. My collection includes a Breitling Navi meter, Avenger, Tag Heuer Monaco, and one Omega Speed Master all vintage.

I just bought an MG and am trying to get its original dashboard cluster from England.

I Salute You for your wonderful blog.
harshad9493 is offline   (5) Thanks
Old 28th October 2021, 13:41   #9
BHPian
 
Join Date: Apr 2020
Location: Chennai
Posts: 183
Thanked: 143 Times
Default Re: Dials and Dials: A look at the joint history & culture shared by automobiles & timepieces

Digital Vs Analog is a personal choice that is based on the usage I feel. I love mechanical watches but tend towards digital for workouts. A hybrid in cars will be better than the new fully digital ones that look like video game consoles.
clementw is offline   (1) Thanks
Old 28th October 2021, 14:22   #10
Team-BHP Support
 
vb-san's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: S'pore/Thrissur
Posts: 6,419
Thanked: 8,949 Times
Default Re: Dials and Dials: A look at the joint history & culture shared by automobiles & timepieces

Wonderful thread! Just the other day I was mentioning to a colleague here, that the new instrument clusters look like Casio watches; should be cheap to produce and manufacturers charge a premium for that.

Interestingly, when some high-end cars move to digital instrument clusters, they will still retain that beautiful analog clock as a center showpiece.
vb-san is offline   (1) Thanks
Old 28th October 2021, 14:41   #11
BHPian
 
Join Date: Apr 2021
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 266
Thanked: 420 Times
Default Re: Dials and Dials: A look at the joint history & culture shared by automobiles & timepieces

Very nice thread.

The apple watches and digital instrumental clusters offers much more features than their mechanical counterparts. But anyday I would prefer a good automatic mechanical watch over an Apple watch. The movement of those needles in automatic watches are itself so classy.

Agree these days apple watches gives much more information including few health checks, but then I don't want someone constantly monitoring my pulse rate which will actually further increase my pulse rate.

For instrument clusters I would prefer a hybrid version of analog and digital. While analog dials are classy, it is equally good and useful to have a digital display of speedo too.
sunikkat is online now   (1) Thanks
Old 28th October 2021, 15:02   #12
BHPian
 
slicks's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Mumbai
Posts: 65
Thanked: 31 Times
Default Re: Dials and Dials: A look at the joint history & culture shared by automobiles & timepieces

Thank you! I just loved the thread!

My own taste in cars and watches has been evolving with age, and I have really started appreciating the process of design which went in building some of these instruments.

eagerly waiting for part 2
slicks is offline   (1) Thanks
Old 28th October 2021, 18:02   #13
BHPian
 
Join Date: Mar 2021
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 70
Thanked: 223 Times
Default Re: Dials and Dials: A look at the joint history & culture shared by automobiles & timepieces

Absolutely wonderful to read this post about watches & instrument clusters. I am nowhere as knowledgeable as some of the esteemed members of our forum about either watches or cars. I do however believe in aesthetics and originality and appreciate both a good car and a good watch when I see one.

I've had the good fortune of being associated with German and Swiss people and companies since a young age so my dream watch to own some day will either be from IWC, Switzerland OR A. Lange & Söhne, Germany. The watch will be a gift to myself the day I believe I have earned the right to enjoy one.

It is because of such articles that I login to Team-BHP every other day!
anandavinash is offline   (1) Thanks
Old 29th October 2021, 00:09   #14
BHPian
 
Join Date: Aug 2021
Location: New Delhi
Posts: 27
Thanked: 43 Times
Default Re: Dials and Dials: A look at the joint history & culture shared by automobiles & timepieces

Man that first picture really got me home. The hmt, my dad used to have one given to him by his father. Sadly, I did not get to keep it. Mechanical drive hmt, not sure of the model.

This is a great thread and a great read. Thank you op

Cheers
Thegermanbadger is offline   (1) Thanks
Old 29th October 2021, 00:26   #15
Newbie
 
hey.rudey's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Mumbai
Posts: 7
Thanked: 134 Times
Default Re: Dials and Dials: A look at the joint history & culture shared by automobiles & timepieces

Hi everyone, thank you so much for your support! Automobiles and watches are an innate part of me, being able to share this with everyone is an absolute dream!

All of your responses are truly inspiring! Thank you so much for reaching out! I will be sharing Part 2 very soon!

P.S. harshad9493, I am 21 years old. I was 16 when my grandmother gave me my great-grandfather's Tudor-Rolex Oysterdate, Universal Geneve Triple Calendar Moonphase, Milus Alarm, Raymond-Weil Ultra Slim, Dugena Automatic, and a few collectible Japanese watches. I will gladly share the original document with you! My Instagram ID is rudeysipod, we can take it ahead from there!

Another request from me to the viewers of this thread. Part 2 is nearly complete, but the love for analogue dials and watches I am seeing here is so immense, I really want to cover every enthusiasts story! If you could kindly connect over Instagram with me I would love to hear you guys out and incorporate it in the next part! (I don't have private messaging yet, hence my IG ID)

This thread/blog is for the drivers, the dreamers, the collectors, and the achievers

Once again a huge huge huge thank you guys :')
hey.rudey is offline  
Reply

Most Viewed
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Copyright ©2000 - 2021, Team-BHP.com
Proudly powered by E2E Networks