Auktionen Dr. Crott, Mannheim, May 14 2016
Sold for: €750
Modern-day “driver’s watches” tend to be of the chronograph variety and are usually replete with motoring cues; be that in the details of their dials, the fact that they are on perforated straps, that they celebrate a particular marque or event or, in some cases, that they contain microscopic elements of rare and valuable cars.
The pioneering driver’s watches of the 1920s, however, were more concerned with the practicalities of how to read a wristwatch while gripping the heavily weighted steering wheel of an automobile mounted on cart springs and travelling at speed along a bumpy road.
The problem was addressed by firms such as Craftsman, Cartier and Patek Philippe, which developed shaped cases to be worn on the side of the wrist, or sometimes on the back of it (as with Vacheron Constantin’s original American 1921) to provide a quick and clear view of the dial without risking letting go of the wheel.
As motoring became a more civilised affair, driver’s watches returned, by and large, to the top of the wrist – although this 1950s Marvin Motorist proves that the side-on style prevailed for several decades. A remarkable survivor, this example was consigned to Dr. Crott as a “new, old stock” example that had never been worn.
The snug-fitting, heavily-engineered convex case, extra-thick crystal and crisp, creamy-white dial were all in absolutely mint condition, as was the tan leather strap.
In summary: Rare in terms of its “as new” condition, and decidedly unusual, this is a great period accessory for any classic car owner. Watches such as this appear once in a blue moon. And, for €750, what more could anyone ask?