A gentleman racer
The Graham Silverstone Vintage 30 pays due reverence to another English institution, the home of British motorsport, Silverstone.
As we approach Baselworld 2013, I am reminded of my meeting last year with Eric Loth, founder of Graham-London. It is unusual to meet a foreign national who has such a profound love and admiration for my nation of birth, England.
I chatted with Loth about his handsome timepiece, the Chronofighter 1695 with its unusual trigger activated stop watch function, and found the Swiss national charming and engaging. His enthusiasm for horology was infectious. This was a man who clearly loved his role and had a hands-on approach to all models to leave his atelier in La Chaux-de Fonds.
Eric Loth is an engineer by trade. Whilst studying engineering, he learned of the remarkable career of George Graham, the renowned English watchmaker born near Carlisle in 1673. Loth’s passion for horology was ignited and has continued to burn brightly. He decided to rekindle the Graham name and, since inception, popularity for the masculine timepieces bearing the English watchmaker’s name has grown.
The Silverstone collection of models is one of several collections within the Graham-London catalogue. Typical of Loth, he pays due reverence to another English institution, the home of British motorsport, Silverstone.
Silverstone is a beacon for the motorsport industry with numerous teams and component suppliers located in close proximity to the race circuit in Northamptonshire. If you study the Formula One paddock, the majority of teams, with only a few notable exceptions, are based in England. This is surprising as many names from the automotive world have clearly defined overseas origins, yet choose to base their motorsport operations in the United Kingdom.
England attracts the motorsport industry because of the amassed knowledge and profusion of talented individuals who populate the factories which nestle on our green and pleasant land.
Whilst England’s once dominant role in watchmaking has declined since the prolific inventions exampled by George Graham and Thomas Tompion, it continues to be a world leader in the field of motorsport.
Several of the Silverstone models feature neoteric details such as carbon and ceramic bezels, carbon weave dials and rubber straps. The modernity of these watches is obvious and they have much eye appeal. However, a model which I particularly like is the Silverstone Vintage 30. This model has an intoxicating retro-look courtesy of beguiling appearance and exquisite execution.
The watch is available in two variants, black dial or off-white dial. It is the latter which notably engages with my covetous eyes. The choice of off-white evokes thoughts of sepia toned images of gentleman racers negotiating race tracks in perilous pursuit of podium glory.
Dauphine shaped hour and minute hands stylishly convey time. A central chronograph hand has a slender profile, providing peerless presentation of the elapsed seconds.
The hours are marked with Arabic numerals presented in a clean, timeless font sans serifs. Most of the hours are marked in black, save for 6 o’clock and noon which employ a golden hue. Two simple gold coloured dots are located at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock affording room for two snailed subdials.
A 30-minute chronograph counter is located at 3 o’clock and a subsidiary seconds display is located opposite at 9 o’clock. The subdials are equal in size and presented in matching format, bestowing balance and pleasing proportion.
A date aperture is located at 7 o’clock and provides a welcome variation from the typical locations of 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock or an alternative integer located between.
A black minute rail frames the dial aiding interpretation with its legible presentation.
The 47mm highly polished steel case is substantial in scale. However, despite its large size, it is very wearable courtesy of the sharply tapering lug design. This allows the strap to cosset a wide range of different sized wrists.
The steel bezel has a delicious “Clous de Paris” decoration which makes me salivate as I admire its knurled form.
The crown has a fluted pattern along its horizontal axis and is terminated with a dome like finish to its vertical flank. The attention to detail is delightful and testament to Loth’s pursuit of sublime tactility.
The famed chronograph trigger is absent from this model. Whilst I like the unusual and innovative trigger, I think the decision to feature conventional pushers on this model was wise. The style of these chrono pushers suit the character of the timepiece and feature “Clous de Paris” decoration on their vertical plane, matching the bezel design. This aspect apart from enhancing the visual appeal, affords clammy fingers grip when operating the stop watch pushers.
I am delighted to see the watch comes with a sapphire caseback. This indulges the wearer with a view of the engine powering the functions of the watch. I always feel frustrated when watch companies deny my inquisitive eyes a view of the movement within.
The Calibre G1734 is a self-winding movement with a frequency of 28,800 vph (4 Hz). It is fitted with an Incabloc shock absorber system which will suit those who intend to wear the watch whilst pursuing an active lifestyle.
The specification includes 27 jewels and a power reserve of 48 hours.
The advent of the motorsport professional is a relatively modern phenomenon. Cars were solely driven by gentleman racers who chose to seek adrenalin fuelled thrills from spending some of their wealth racing cars at high speed.
In yesteryear, the cars had limited braking and poor grip when compared to modern day standards. Moreover, the absence of any tangible safety considerations made racing around the track a risky leisure pursuit. However, the passion for speed and the need for high-speed exhilaration at the wheel of a car, lead many to take up the gauntlet of competition.
This was a glamorous period. The age of the gentleman racer. Graham-London have captured the mood of this era with a mightily handsome timepiece which offers good looks, legibility and reliability in a championship winning package.
- Model: Graham Silverstone Vintage 30
- Reference: 2BLFS.W06A
- Case: Stainless steel; diameter 47.00 mm; water resistant to 10 bar (100 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; subsidiary seconds; date; chronpgraph.
- Movement: Calibre G1734, self-winding; frequency 28,800vph (4Hz); 27 jewels; power reserve 48 hours.
- Strap: Brown leather strap