Thundering down a dried-up African lakebed, unleashing a total of 135,000 horsepower at the push of a button, rocketing towards the 1,000 miles an hour barrier, sucking up 64,000 liters of air per second, fighting 20 metric tons of drag at speed, resisting up to 50,000 G’s on certain parts, and checking speed and time… on a bespoke set of Rolex instruments.
Rolex has an abundant and rich history, part of which is securely embedded in the world of motorsports. Whether it’s 24 Hours of Daytona, 24 Hours of Le Mans, or Formula 1, Rolex has always availed itself as an official timekeeper at the highest level of motor racing. Relying on the vast experience as official timing partner, the Swiss powerhouse is now bridging the gap between “can it be done?” and “It can be done!” on a whole new scale as they’ve partnered up with Bloodhound SSC.
To clarify the world land speed record a bit; it’s divided into two categories. Wheel-driven cars and jet or rocket propelled cars. The Bloodhound Super Sonic Car has a Eurojet EJ200 jet engine and a Nammo hybrid rocket, producing the equivalent of 135,000 horsepower. The goal with this extraordinary amount of power is to surpass the one thousand miles per hour mark (roughly 1,600 kilometers per hour). The Bloodhound SSC is calculated to accelerate from 0 to 1000 in only 55 seconds. Even more astonishingly, the Bloodhound will achieve half of the target speed (500 to 1000 mph) in just the last 17 seconds of acceleration! At top speed, it will cover four and a half soccer-pitches per second! It will get you from New York to Florida within an hour. Some more facts that boggle the mind; a 5.0L Jaguar-V8 is used as a fuel pump, the entire vehicle is 14 meters long, and has more than 6 times the power of the entire Formula 1 grid put together.
But, Monochrome is all about watches, and not about going crazy-fast through a desert. Bloodhound and Andy Green, the RAF fighter-pilot set to “drive” this land-clad rocket, have recently shared a view inside the “office” of the super-sonic car, and that is where we come in!
Even though the entire machine relies heavily on computers, they’ve decided to incorporate a fail-safe instrument cluster including two specially developed Rolex units. The speedometer on the left is developed as a back-up to the digital instruments in case of a power-failure. It is running on its own power supply, and equipped with a GPS-system. Indicating speeds of up to 1.100 miles per hour, the speedometer also features a Mach 1 marker at 760 miles per hour. A major cool-factor is the steering wheel, including one very special button: the trigger for the ROCKET! (Oooh!! What does this button do??)
Check out the following video of team Bloodhound SSC test firing that rocket for the first time:
The chronograph on the right of the steering wheel is essential to Andy Green, it is a failsafe system developed to keep both runs within the restricted hour in order to be able to claim the record. If the full exercise runs past an hour, all efforts have been in vain and the record will not be approved. Both instruments are backlit and equipped with internal batteries to avoid a total loss of information for the driver. Extensively testing the instruments made sure they are able to withstand the immense vibrations at top speed, and are accurate to the required specifications.
Bloodhound SSC, and Rolex for that matter, are chasing a romanticized ideal, something originating from the very core of our being; a record. Mankind has always sought out the fastest, strongest, highest, most powerful thing we could find and put that on a very clear pedestal. We have always laureled champions or record breakers, applauded people who push boundaries and explore limits.
All of the years of planning, development, engineering, and testing boil down to one single hour. Under a minute for the first pass, then cooling down, turning around, recalibrating everything and eventually making a second pass within the set timeframe of 60 minutes. Talk about pressure!
For more information on the entire project: http://www.bloodhoundssc.com/