It’s Black and White
Goodwood is one of those glorious English events that make sense only to the maddest of individuals. The old saying is: “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun!” Equally only the maddest of gearheads and Englishmen would attempt the hill at Goodwood at full speed, winging their way past the Duke of Richmond’s stately home, under the pedestrian bridge, narrowly avoiding the wall that is part of the grounds and emerging into the home straight for the finish line. About 1.16 miles with an average uphill gradient of approximately 5 percent. If you are quick you can do it well under the minute. But its not all about being quick: there are other parameters to consider. How old is your vehicle, are you there to show off, or do you want to simply wave at the crowds as you glide past the stately home. Whatever your reasons it is an extremely entertainingly eccentric event.
Given the Goodwood Festival of Speed is a timed run there is a natural sponsorship opening for watch brands. A number of brands have come and gone over the past few years, but recently Montblanc has taken over the duties. And deservedly so. Goodwood suits Montblanc and Montblanc is an ideal partner for Goodwood. And here’s why. Montblanc’s initial entry into haute horologerie was (perhaps) not a well executed plan. Everyone knew the movements were Minerva; but no mention of Minerva was made. The watches were Montblanc. But under the stewardship of Davide Cerrato and the design acumen of Zaim Kamal, Montblanc have been producing watches that not only keep a modern vintage aesthetic, but include (and brand) some of the most sublime Minerva movements ever produced. By incorporating and embracing Minerva, Montblanc watches have produced inspired chronograph watches that are the very nature of Goodwood: the racing hill climb heritage of yesteryear with old and new cars taking part.
Goodwood Festival of Speed
Goodwood House in West Sussex, England is the stately seat of Charles Gordon-Lennox, 11th Duke of Richmond. Wishing to revive Goodwood House’s rich motor racing history, but having no racing licence, the Duke inaugurated the hill climb, otherwise known as the Festival of Speed in 1993.
Back in the 1950’s, as a result having to build a tarmac circuit to accommodate World War II bombers on the grounds of Goodwood House, the place was a hive of race meetings. But as cars became faster and more powerful, the small and ad-hoc racing circuit was not deemed safe. To circumvent the problem the Duke of Richmond started the Festival of Speed; it did not require the same racing license. Initially, it was a small event; but its success was as rapid as the cars climbing the hill.
The Goodwood Festival of Speed is usually held over a weekend in late June and early July, between the 24 Hours of LeMans and the British Formular 1 Grand Prix. Consequently, leaving it open for racing celebrities to attend, along with the cars that race in a variety of events at other times of the year. Anything from Formula 1 to vintage cars. Equally, because it is a hill climb, the same rules about barriers and the proximity of spectators do not apply as they would at an official race. While Formula 1 cars can no longer undertake a timed run, because the potential speed some might be encouraged to push for, spectators nonetheless get to see and hear the cars powering up the hill. Think of it as a very mobile motor show!
This year the celebrations were mainly British marques!
Bentley, of course, celebrating its centenary on the cricket ground with an impressive display of unique and rare cars down the years. Cars ranging from a Bentley 1922 3-litre to the Centenary Special Edition Number 1 released within the last couple of weeks. Glen Kidston’s Bentley Gurney Nutting Speed Six, 4.5-litre ‘Embiricos’ Special, a 1948 Pininfarina Mark VI, a Continental GT Zagato and W.O. Bentley’s own 8.0-Litre from 1930 were on display.
The Bentley display at the ‘Cartier Style et Luxe Lawn’ had at least six R-Type Continentals for this year’s Concours d’Elegance. With only 208 R-Type Continentals built in the early 1950s, they are now one of the most desirable vintage Bentleys. The R-Type Continental defined the three motifs – the power line, rear haunch and sloping fastback roof – that modern Continental GT design conforms to.
The main sculpture, and honours for racing the hill, were given over to Aston Martin celebrating the 60th anniversary of the 1-2 victory at Le Mans and 70 years since it first raced at Goodwood.
The Mini was celebrating its 60th year. Citroen and Pagani celebrated their 100th and 20th anniversaries respectively.
New car reveals and UK debuts abounded with the Mercedes-AMG A45, the Radical Rapture, the BAC Mono R, the Ford GT MkII and the De Tomaso P72 GT all being seen for the first time at the Festival of Speed.
The Festival is fun! It’s as simple as that. For anyone who has an inkling of an interest in cars, of all kinds, and across all vintages, it is a wonderful day out watching the timed runs. And if you are racing the hill you either beat the time, or you don’t. It’s black and white; as simple as that.
This is where Montblanc fits in as the ideal timing partner. In recent years Montblanc chronographs [CLICK for Luxe178 Report] have become second to none in terms of design and manufacture. Rather than try to subsume Minerva into Montblanc and claim the watch is all Montblanc, there has been a change of emphasis. The watches are Montblanc; movements by Minerva; and as Minerva has a rich history of racing chronographs the watches have become exceptional value for money and outright front runners in the horological world.
The 1858 chronograph, the Rally Timer, this year’s SIHH star: the bronze cased 1858 Split Second chronograph, and the modern TimeWalker. The limited edition TimeWalker for this year’s Festival was cased in distressed steel – to mirror the vintage nature of the cars and the event – and the modern design of dial to make reading the time easy and straightforward. The chronograph pushers were tactile and responsive; the watch design elegant and stylish.
The Montblanc watches incorporate the best of all worlds: beautifully executed chronograph movements from a manufacture that has a known and illustrious history in their production, modern and vintage design looks that present the time and time recording in a parsimonious and straightforward fashion: important when you need to read the time accurately and quickly; and the quality that is Montblanc.
Whether you have a vintage car, like the 1911 Fiat S76 “Beast of Turin” and don’t wish to ding your vintage timepiece when man handling “the Beast” up the hill, or are driving the latest super car, Montblanc has the watch you need and in keeping with your mode of transport.
Montblanc were equally the ideal and gracious host. Digs were on Goodwood House grounds – the former kennels – at the appropriately named Hound Lodge. Where dinner was served amid a champagne tasting; where a breakfast fit for a Duke was laid out, and where you had a butler button in your room should some sudden want come to mind. My butler was befittingly called Andrew!
The Festival was a short buggy ride away, the helicopter flew us over the South Downs to Arundel Castle and back, and the sun shone and shone. Being a Sussex boy born and bred, for me, I cannot recall a more beautiful place or such an entertaining spectacle. My time at Goodwood with Montblanc, as if timed by one of their chronographs, was halcyon.
Video: Montblanc and Goodwood Festival of Speed 2019 (45 sec)
Andrew K.G. Hildreth is a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, and Freeman of the City of London. A lifelong enthusiast and collector of watches – it was the first thing he asked his parents for when he was four years old. He has written for a number of publications on watchmaking and haute horlogerie (along with photography, fountain pens, and vintage cars – especially Bentley).
When not writing and talking (endlessly) about watches, he travels around the world occasionally indulging in his favourite tipple: a gin and tonic. His watch articles can be found in PuristSPro (AndrewH_219), Revolution, The Rake, The Telegraph, GQ, MensHealth, Hodinkee, WatchesbySJX, Watch Journal, QP, iW Magazine, The Hour, Twelve, or Calibre.
You can also follow him on Instagram: @andrewh_219