Rare Racing Chrono – 1 of 5!
OK, let’s play a game. You don’t want to? Come on, it’s nearly Christmas. Close you eyes and when I say “1960s Racing Chronograph”, I want you to shout out the first watch that comes into your mind. Daytona! Speedmaster! Autavia! Today we are going to discuss a watch that I reckon pretty much nobody would shout out of playing this game. Bigger than a Rolex and arguably more racy than a Speedy, let’s take a closer look at the Enicar Sherpa Graph…
Going backwards to Move Forward
Enicar was founded in 1914, by a member of the illustrious Racine family of watchmakers. Ariste Racine was his name…can you see what he did yet? Yes, correct. He took his family name and reversed it and so Racine became Enicar. Enicar’s first triumph was to produce highly legible pocket watches for officers in World War 1. After World War 2, the company was run by Ariste Racine Jnr and he fully embraced the wristwatch and began developing sports watches that he would then give to adventurers and sportspeople to wear to do two key things; prove the reliability of the timepieces and gain the brand much-needed exposure through brand recognition. This is something we take for granted now. Think Kelly Slater and Brietling, David Beckham and Tudor or Roger Federer and Rolex. At the time though it was an emerging trend, arguably spearheaded by Hans Wilsdorf, but Racine Jnr was getting in on the act too!
Born to Explore
One of the earliest product placements that Enicar was involved in was the Swiss Everest Expedition of 1956. The watches sent up the mountain were Sea Pearls, some of which were fitted with thermometers on the dial. A lot of these early watches had prominent lugs and have the nickname Turtle Cases and we have always loved the interesting shape of these pieces. The expedition was successful and the party was only the second team to reach the summit of Everest in May 1956. Capitalising on this exposure and opportunity, in November 1956 Enicar officially adopted the name Sherpa for their watches, after the native guides who were key to the success of the ascent. The Sherpa became Enicar’s sports watch line and so began a long-standing horological dynasty, including world timers, dive watches, GMTs and a racing chronograph.
Born to Race
The Sherpa Graph was launched in 1960 and it was a big watch measuring 40mm. In line with the early 20th century legible pocket watches that had proven a big success, the Sherpa Graph had a big dial with large sub dials that made it perfect for monitoring time at a glance when at the wheel of a sports car. One man became a well-known ambassador for Enicar – racing driver Stirling Moss. Moss had been appearing in Enicar adverts since 1958, promoting the Ultrasonic line of watches. The 1960 Sherpa Graph was immediately endorsed by Moss and an early advert bore the quote “The Enicar Sherpa is definitely the watch I have always wanted.” There were other racing drivers that became ambassadors including Jim Clark and Trevor Taylor, but Moss was the super star. And the watch he was most closely associated with was the Mk1 Sherpa Graph.
Maxi Dial & Sword Hands
The rarest version of the Sherpa Graph is the Mk1 of which only five are known to have the special sword or gladiator hands as seen in our example. One of the key reasons that the dial is so striking and ‘maxi’ is the fact that the racing tachymeter is on the dial and on the bezel, as is often seen on racing chronos. The white/grey tachymeter is a Base 1000 scale and the extra few mm, coupled with the 40mm case, really gives the watch an awesome presence on the wrist. The sporty vibes are heightened by the large, luminous filled sword hands. These highly legible hands would have been perfect for Moss as he careered around the racetracks and needed to see the time at a glance. Remember in the 1950s and 1960s motor racing was an incredibly dangerous pursuit – a quick glance at your wrist was literally taking your life into your hands!
Race to The Finish Line
This Sherpa Graph is powered by the legendary Valjoux 72, manually wound movement that was found in the Rolex Daytona and a host of other watches. The three sub dial layout is familiar but is insanely cool due to the ‘big eyes’ dials that almost spill out onto the outer seconds track. The champagne colour is soft contrast to the black dial…but the incredible patina of the hands and hour markers is wonderful – just so amazing when all combined. We love it! What a great watch and let’s think about its rarity. One of five known in this configuration. Five! That’s rarer than a RCO Newman or 2915 Speedmaster. And the size was a rarity for the era at 40mm. But even on its own merit it is watch that is a joy to behold. So gentlemen, start your engines and race over to our shop…this one won’t be around for long!