The Heritage behind the Design
When Brooklands Watch Company founder Simon Jeffs was looking for a designer for his launch timepiece, he decided to aim for the top and approached Sir Terence Conran. The legendary British designer replied quickly in the affirmative. Conran had strong personal links with Brooklands – his mother had learned to fly there, and he had happy memories of attending races with his father at the famous banked circuit. Sir Terence visited Brooklands to refresh his memory and paid homage to the track, its heritage, and the cars that raced there in the Triple-Four Racing Chronograph’s exquisite design.
Here, we unpack some of the swiss luxury watch’s details and identify their roots in Brooklands history.
The Banked Perimeter
Turn the Brooklands Watch Company Model 1 in your hands and you’ll notice the unique curved perimeter around its face, banked at the exact angle of the Brooklands racetrack. The banked track, the brainchild of Surrey landowner Hugh Locke King, cost £150,000 in 1907 (the equivalent of £20 million today) and allowed for high-speed racing and world records. As the watch’s perimeter catches the light, you can almost imagine the sight of driver John Cobb hurtling round to push the Brooklands track record to 143.44mph on 7 October 1935.
The Napier-Railton Triple-Four Rotor Back
In the early 1930s, John Cobb had the world 24 Hours speed record in his sights. He teamed up with accomplished designer Reid Railton to create a car that was powerful, reliable, and capable of pushing the boundaries of speed for 24 hours straight. A unique motor for a unique car was required, and Railton chose a Napier “Lion” aero engine, which developed 564bhp from 23,970cc. The mighty Napier-Railton car was strong and fast, and battled with Bentley for the Brooklands lap record, eventually triumphing in 1935. It also set a new 24 Hours World Record on Utah’s salt flats. The Model 1’s clear exhibition back pays homage to the car’s legendary engine, revealing a bespoke rotor, representing the master rod and two articulated conrod configuration of the Napier Lion. That’s real heritage in your hands!
The Chronograph Hands
Timing and precision instruments have played a crucial role throughout Brooklands’ history – the circuit was able to time cars to within 1/1,000th of a second in 1907, the same accuracy used in Formula One today. The second hand and the sub-dial hands of the Model 1 share a circular counterweight design, a feature of the Brooklands Chronograph Villa trackside clock.
The Tyre Tread Strap
When dealing with the immense power of 1930s cars and cornering on the banked circuit at Brooklands, tyres were of paramount importance. Too heavy and bulky and precious seconds would be added onto lap speeds, too thin and drivers risked high-speed accidents. To pay homage to the wheels that have carried brave drivers around the circuit over the years, Sir Terence designed a 20mm-wide leather strap in Conran Blue with a pattern reflecting early tyre tread.
The Presentation Box
Sift through heritage photographs from Brooklands race track and you’ll notice the leather straps that held down the bonnets of many of the era’s famous race cars. Today, owners of the Brooklands Watch Company Model 1 will undo the replica bonnet straps on their luxury presentation box to reveal their timepiece, warranty card, and member’s badge.