Given Sowind president Luigi Macaluso’s history as a member of the official Fiat racing team in the 1970s, it should surprise no one that his watch brands are associated with competitive racing. While one Sowind brand, Girard-Perregaux, is cosponsoring the BMW Oracle contender at the America’s Cup yacht race, sister brand JeanRichard last year signed a three-year timekeeping commitment with the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), a nine-race series of events that can be compared to the famed 24-hour LeMans race.
Teaming with the ALMS has already paid off: Last year JeanRichard received a documented $1 million in exposure via the major media that cover ALMS racing. Ratings on CBS, NBC and the Speed network were up 25 percent last year, an increase larger than any other race circuit. In response to the close ties between watch company and racing organization, JeanRichard in February paid homage to the prestigious 12 Hours of Sebring race with a specially designed JeanRichard chronograph.
The new JeanRichard Sebring automatic chronograph joins the brand’s TV Screen Chronoscope collection. The Chronoscope collection is among the brand’s best-selling watches and one JeanRichard has nurtured as its sportiest. The collection is known for its powerful size and its large round bezel that is rounded at the lugs into a modified cushion case.
The watchmakers at JeanRichard’s La Chaux de Fonds headquarters have modified the chronograph functions to accept the terms of the famed race. The chronograph hours display at the 6 o’clock position that typically shows time elapsed from one up to 12 hours is on this watch a countdown display. “When you start your chronograph as the Sebring race begins, you can see how much time remains as the 12-hour race progresses,” explains Ronald Jackson, president of Tradema of America, the Sowind-owned firm that handles JeanRichard sales in North America.
For maximum visibility, whether behind the wheel during the race or timing it from the stands, the countdown hours display is larger than the other two chronograph displays. In addition, the luminous hands and indexes ensure good visibility even in the dark. For even more detailed information at a glance, JeanRichard made the semicircles around the counter in contrasting colors so that daytime hours can be distinguished from nighttime hours during the race.
The remaining two counters display the seconds (3 o’clock) and chronograph minutes (9 o’clock). The large central hand, which has a red triangular arrow at the end, shows chronograph seconds. Like previous chronoscope models by JeanRichard, the internal rotating bezel is adjusted by means of a crown located at 9 o’clock. If the internal disc is turned until the arrow corresponds to the minutes hand, a time difference of less than an hour can be calculated.
A base ETA 2824-2 movement modified with a Dubois-Depraz module, which creates a JR 25 chronograph movement, powers the watch. This 51-jewel movement has a power reserve of up to forty hours and an operating frequency of 28,800 bph.
This limited edition Sebring will be made in only 100 units per each of two dial and hand styles. One has a silver-colored dial with blue counters and hands and the other has a black dial with white indexes and hands. On the caseback, JeanRichard has etched the layout of the Sebring track and the watch’s limited-edition number.
The stainless steel case is secured with four screws guaranteeing water-resistance to 50 meters. The packaging will also be customized with a special metal plaque that bears testimony to the association between JeanRichard and the 12 Hours of Sebring. JeanRichard has priced the watch at $4,250.
History of Sebring
JeanRichard, named after a historic figure in the Swiss watch industry, has chosen the Sebring race in part because of its prestigious place in racing history in the United States. The Sebring racetrack, located in Sebring, Florida, has hosted the famous race since 1952. This endurance race has been the backdrop for great challenges between the most prestigious car manufacturers and the best drivers of all time.
American automobile giants and the famed European racing car manufacturers have come face to face on this race track, joined by Japanese challengers since the 1990’s. Epic battles have taken place on the track between Ferrari, Ford, Porsche, Chaparral, Jaguar, Nissan, Toyota, Audi and all the other stars from the world of motor racing. Winners have included legendary drivers such as Stirling Moss, Juan Manuel Fangio, Phil Hill, Dan Gurney, John Surtees, Mario Andretti and Jacky Ickx. During its fifty-plus years, teams from around the world have traveled to Sebring, making it the most prestigious of the nine races that make up the ALMS schedule.
As it did in 2004, JeanRichard will this year be presenting a numbered and personalized watch to the first three drivers in each ALMS category, to winners of the championship and to the winners of the two main endurance races at the “Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.” JeanRichard’s U.S. staff was present at the 2005 12 Hours of Sebring, which took place March 16 through 19.