A sunny Sunday at the end of September 2016 witnessed a worldwide rally of elegantly dressed riders on classic motorbikes – enjoying intensive moments of elevated style and raising funds for the fight against prostate cancer.
To that goal, two eminent names in fine watchmaking and motorcycles, respectively, joined the cause: the Swiss manufacturer Zenith, known for its El Primero chronograph, and Triumph, a synonym for the modern classic motorbike.
AlphaLuxe mixed with the dapper on the imperial streets of Vienna to get a taste of the rider lifestyle.
The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR) was founded by Mark Hawwa in 2012, who looked into an endeavour for like-minded people – gentlemen riders basically – who would seek to enjoy the beauty of classical motorbikes in a very stylish way.
Inspired by watching Don Draper riding astride a classic bike whilst wearing his finest suit, in the American television series Mad Men, Hawwa found his theme: the style of the 1960s most admired motorcycles and finest attire. Marc Hawwa made the wise decision to complement it with a charity in support of a growing but under-appreciated health problem within the male population: prostate cancer.
That was akin a match made in heaven, and already the first DGR in 2012 saw more than 2,500 riders across 64 cities. From there one success followed another:
- 2013: over 11,000 participants in 145 cities around the world raised over $277k (US) for prostate cancer research.
- 2014: over 20,000 participants in 257 cities in 58 countries raised over $1.5M (US) for prostate cancer research.
- 2015: over 37,000 participants in 410 cities in 79 countries raised over $2.3M (US) for prostate cancer research.
The DGR 2016 topped the numbers even more: well exceeding 57,000 cyclists hit the roads in 503 cities across 90 countries of the world. The fundraising goal was set ambitiously at a high $5M (US), of which more than 2/3 has already been reached. Donations continue until end-October 2016.
In Vienna alone, 400 bikes gathered for a mind-blowing variety of beautifully persevered café racers, choppers, scooters and sidecars – saddled by their owners dressed up with monocles, jaunty trimmed moustaches, silk vests, crisp shirts and tailored suits.
It seemed the DGR brought something to the motorcycle scene that was dearly missed: the elegant style and exclusivity so imprinted into the world of luxurious classic cars. As if, thousands of bike enthusiasts were just waiting for this signal: exposing the luxury of piloting a fine bike, relieved from the constraints a classic car might bring with it (particularly in the traffic-congested cities of the world), combined it with a statement of your personal refined lifestyle, and share precious moments of pleasure with your families and friends. Through the charity element, benefits would accrue also to a wider audience.
It was therefore only question of time if likeminded brands would join and offer their logistic, financial and outreach support. Famed motorcycle maker Triumph would be the first in 2014, owing also to the fact that many of their legendary Bonneville machines are frequently seen at DGRs around the world.
In 2016, watch manufacturer Zenith participated for the first time. With its iconic El Primero automatic chronograph, the brand has a classic engine on offer, which matches nicely to the elegant mechanical attitude of the dapper riders.
In the Volksgarten (opposite the Hofburg), Zenith provided styling facilities for those in need of a coiffure…
As a potent incentive to intensify fundraising efforts, Zenith offered a Heritage Pilot Ton-up DGR Special Edition watch, with the DGR logo at six o’clock, a specially engraved case back and an unique tan leather strap (5-piece limited edition).
Only one was up for sale in an exclusive auction hosted by Huntsman on Savile Row and The Rake magazine, raising £14,000 at an exclusive black-tie auction in London on 26 September 2016. The four remainders were awarded to the top fundraiser in the Zenith teams and the three overall best fundraisers worldwide.
Report Images by the author – Magnus Bosse – and Georg Aufreiter