The new Legend 60s

The new Legend 60s marks a major first for Depancel: it reopens a historic chapter in 1960s Formula One timekeeping with two creations, the ‘Panda’ and the ‘Reverse Panda’, fitted for the first time with a hand-wound chronograph in the finest racing tradition of that era. The first 240 pieces of each dial will be specially numbered from 001 to 240, and delivered in a collector’s edition accompanied by a poster signed by the founder of the brand. Certain sounds and names resonate in the world of watchmaking more than others. Such sounds include the throaty roar of V6 and V8 engines on 1960s Formula One racetracks and the frenetic ‘tick-tick-tick’ timing their performance on every lap through, until the final wave of the chequered flag. And today, the five letters of the word ‘Venus’ embody the high standing of the chronograph in its original, racing incarnation. Venus supplied the most prestigious and most accurate movements of its day, also held to be the most beautiful. The watchmaker’s movements featured an iconic column wheel – very much the caliber’s gearbox, managing the different functions of the chronograph. In the absence of an oscillating weight, the outstanding movement was fully visible; until 1969, the chronograph was exclusively hand-wound. As a result, it became a highly sought-after pioneer among collectors, and remained so until Venus closed down, its last remaining movements and plans taken over by Sea-Gull (now Seagull). The new owners changed some aspects of the piece, notably by increasing its frequency to 3Hz (21,600 vph).

Wed Mar 08 2023

The ST19 edition of this historic Seagull movement forms the basis for the most recent creation by Depancel, discreetly named the Legend 60s. Depancel collectors had made clear their interest in seeing the brand move back towards its racing chronograph roots – and now it has. In the interests of historical accuracy, the surround of this Legend 60s collection has been designed to reproduce exactly the same feel as the original chronographs. The diameter has been studiously kept at 39mm, the standard in the 1960s. The case is made from steel, the best material for withstanding the harsh conditions of Formula One racing. The strap is perforated with small holes, mirroring a pattern also to be found on drivers’ gloves at that time.

There are no shortage of nods to history on the dial, either. First among these are the two finishes chosen, affectionately dubbed ‘Panda’ and ‘Reverse Panda’. The Panda features two black counters on a silver background with a vertical satin finish; on the Reverse Panda, the colour scheme is the other way round. The two versions both serve the same aim of maximum readability, even at high speed – and in a shuddering race car cockpit.

To make sure that there’s no danger of confusing the time with the chronograph reading, the chronograph’s central hand is red. The same colour is also used for two other critical indications on any racing chronograph: the tachymeter and the pulsometer, designed to measure the driver’s heart rate. The dial must be as sober and minimalist as possible in order to remain legible; with this in mind, Depancel has designed a clever tachymeter bezel occupying three-quarters of the circle, while the pulsometer nestles in the remaining quarter (from 1 o’clock to 3 o’clock). The respective scales of these dials have been carefully thought out, too: the pulsometer goes up to 150, plus a red zone if the heart rate reaches 200bpm. The tachymeter scale runs from 0 to 200 km/h, the usual Formula One performance range in the Sixties. It too features a final red zone extending to 240 km/h – usually best avoided. To protect the timepiece, Depancel has designed a ‘glass box’ sapphire crystal: a raised dome with a vertical profile where it fits onto the bezel, the customary design used in the 1960s to avoid obscuring any information on the dial. To facilitate night-time visibility, the hour and minute hands sport luminous coating. The 30-minute counters (at 3 o’clock) and the small seconds hand (at 9 o’clock) sweep over sky-blue counters that make the most of all available light to ensure perfect readability. For this pre-order launch, the first 240 copies of each dial will be individually numbered and delivered in a collector’s edition accompanied by a poster signed by the brand’s founder. It will be available on Tuesday March 28, 2023 on the watch brand’s website,

Depancel (short for Delage, Panhard, and Facel Vega, three prestigious carmakers of the past) is a French brand producing automatic watches that offer excellent value for money thanks to a business model based on co-creation and pre-orders. Its mission is to place fine horological engineering on the wrists of as many people as possible, in the form of timepieces made in Switzerland or France. In its quest to inspire lovers of beautiful watchmaking, Depancel presents collections that pay homage to a specific era in the world of motor racing.

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