It’s common knowledge that classic cars and mechanical watches go hand in hand, or if you prefer, that piston-heads and cog-heads are equally fascinated by beautiful machines. Since 2004, the British sports car brand Austin-Healey and Frederique Constant have been partners, resulting in automotive-inspired watches with a convincing retro spirit. In light of Austin-Healey’s 70th anniversary, FC presents two limited-edition Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph Automatic with “British racing green dials” taken from the legendary NOJ393 Austin-Healey.
The Austin-Healey with licence plates NOJ393 was a collaboration between the Austin Motor Company and Donald Healey, a renowned racing car designer and rally driver. Constructed in 1953 as one of four Special Test Cars for use by the factory racing team, the NOJ393 was later converted to 100S specification. Having competed in the 1953 Le Mans 24 Hours, the 1954 Sebring 12 Hours, the Carrera Pan Americana and Bahamas Speed Week, the tragic accident during the 1955 Le Mans resulted in the car being impounded by the police. Sold for GPB 155 in 1969 to Jack Scott, the100S NOJ393 languished in a garage before Bonhams sold for a record GBP 843,000 in 2011 and restored to start line specifications for the 1955 Le Mans race. Naturally, the restoration of the sports car meant the return of the classic British Racing Green paintwork.
British Racing Green
Although Austin-Healey is now defunct, the brand was a joint venture between the Austin division of the British Motor Corporation and the Donald Healey Motor Company and established in 1952. Nevertheless, the partnership between FC and Austin-Healey is alive and kicking and has generated time-and-date, chronographs and small seconds models with persuasive vintage appeal inspired by the NOJ393.
The two chronographs are almost identical except for one detail: the applied numeral at noon. The standard version, which is limited to 700 watches, features the traditional ’12’, while the more exclusive edition of just ten watches has a number ’70’ at noon in reference to Austin-Healey’s anniversary.
Sharing polished 42mm stainless steel cases with a height of 14.45mm, the classic piston-style chronograph pushers have tread marks to consolidate the racing track link and improve grip. The dial features a traditional bi-compax layout with two counters at 9 and 3 o’clock for the running seconds and 30-minute elapsed times. However, in a departure from the Vintage Rally Healey Chronographs introduced in 2018 with panda-style dials, these limited editions have solid green dials and counters for an even stronger visual link to the bodywork of the NOJ393.
The peripheral white seconds track is indicated by a bright red central chronograph hand, as is the 30-minute countdown hand in the snailed sub-dial at 3 o’clock. The applied silver-coloured indices on the grey minutes track and the central hour and minutes hands are treated with luminescent material. Respecting the symmetry of the functions on the dial, the brand name at noon is echoed by the ‘Healey’ inscription in original font and ’70th anniversary’ at 6 o’clock.
Underscoring the race track spirit, the strap is an asphalt-grey colour and has two rows of off-white stitching to emulate the white lines marking the edges of the race track.
To keep the price in check, the motor powering the Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph is calibre FC-397, an outsourced integrated automatic chronograph movement based on a Sellita SW-510 (a Valjoux clone). The movement is visible through the caseback with a gold-plated rotor decorated with Geneva stripes. Its specifications are classic: 28,800vph/4Hz frequency, 48h power reserve and 25 jewels. The Limited Edition XX/10 or XX/700 is etched on the caseback bezel.
Availability and Price
The Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph Automatic is presented in a gift box with a miniature replica of the famous NOJ339. The retail price for the limited edition of 10 pieces with ’70’ at noon and for the 700 pieces of the edition with a regular ’12’ is EUR 2,595.
For more information, please consult Frederique Constant.com.