On Tuesday 3rd September 1935 Sir Malcolm Campbell became the first man to drive a car at more than 300mph. On the intense white Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah the bullet-like Bluebird reached 301.337 mph (484.955 kph) on two passes, marking yet another land speed record for the British adventurer.
Breaching the 300mph threshold proved to be Sir Malcolm’s last record-breaking achievement and the drama of the victory has passed into legend. The image of the huge blue car standing in such an alien landscape remains striking and memorable. Scottish artist Jack Vettriano recalled it in one of his most famous works, Bluebird at Bonneville, which sold at auction for £468,000 in August 2007. The streamlined car looks like a projectile on wheels and the unmistakable conical design of the wheel hubs has been cleverly incorporated into Christopher Ward’s first Bluebird watch, which will be released this spring.
The limited edition C7 Bluebird is based around Christopher Ward’s highly successful C7 Rapide case and uses the impressive Ronda 3540.D calibre movement. In a clever piece of design, five concentric circles form the backplate and reflect the profile of the original aerodynamic wheel. An octagonal «wheel nut” is at the centre of the plate.
Great care has been taken by CW’s designers to ensure that this good-looking and unusual back is comfortable to wear. The outer edge and the edge of the innermost circle are treated with a «fingerprint-free” IPK finish. An engraving on the outer edge reminds everyone that Bluebird has been «Breaking Records For Over 100 Years.»
«THIS NEW WATCH FROM CHRISTOPHER WARD IS SIMPLY MAGNIFICENT, THE DIAL IN BLUEBIRD BLUE IS BASED ON THE SPEEDOMETER FROM THE BLUEBIRD CAR THAT BROKE THE 300MPH BARRIER IN 1935,»
DON WALES, GRANDSON OF SIR MALCOLM CAMPBELL
As was detailed in the Autumn 2012 issue of this magazine, Malcolm Campbell started setting records in 1912 and as part of his centenary celebrations last year Christopher Ward became official timing partner for Bluebird Speed Projects, the modern incarnation of the Campbell family’s pursuit of world records on land and water. The new watch will be a limited edition of just 1,912 pieces worldwide.
The latest of CW’s motoring-inspired quartz chronographs is coloured, appropriately enough, Bluebird Blue, or Pantone 299 to give it its official designation. Even the stems of the two pushers are anodised to the same shade.
The whole effect is to make the already impressive 42mm watch case even more striking. To echo the clean and spare paint job of the Bluebird, the vivid blue base is complemented by the use of white, Super-
LumiNova™ Indices and hands. The Bezel has a pearlescent effect and the date frame and bezel edge are all chrome finish.Christopher Ward’s regular use of delicate and intricate guilloche work on the chrono dials is much appreciated by clients, but for the new watch a silhouette of a bluebird is deep etched into the lower chrono dial. The bluebird logo in blue also decorates the white enamel crown.
Strap choices include a steel bracelet and a rubber strap version, but the sportiest option is a black calf leather strap with ecru stitching that is punched to reveal blue highlights beneath.
The C7 Rapide has met with the approval of Don Wales, Sir Malcolm’s grandson, who now chases land speed records in electric-powered cars: «The centenary celebrations of my grandfather christening a car ‘Blue Bird’ in 1912 could not be marked without the release of a new wristwatch. The family still has some watches that he wore during his attempts.
This new watch from Christopher Ward is simply magnificent.
«The dial in Bluebird Blue is based on the speedometer from the Bluebird car that broke the 300mph barrier in 1935 and having the Bluebird emblem subtly placed inside the guilloche is a nice touch. I have always loved the wheel hub design on my grandfather’s Bluebirds and I am so pleased that Christopher Ward has added that detail to the back plate. I am sure that this limited edition of 1,912 pieces will appeal not only to Campbell fans but also to collectors everywhere. It is a lovely watch. I am looking forward to receiving mine!»