If you are a regular visitor to our pages, it’s not a stretch to suggest that, like us, you have a sheer passion for all things related to watches. Yet, as passionate as we are by the watchmaking world, most of us here share a love for something else, and yes, they are mechanical too: cars. Thus, when I received an invite from Montblanc to spend a weekend at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed (Montblanc is, since this year, the official timekeeper of the event), you can imagine that I didn’t have to think twice about. The Goodwood FoS is unique, loud, great fun and absolutely overwhelming. Here is a photo report of the 2017 edition of the FoS – and no worries, there are watches too…
What is Goodwood Festival of Speed?
Everything that happens at Goodwood results from the dream of one man, Charles Gordon-Lennox, known in the automotive world as Lord March. As a young aristocrat, March was living the life of a London-playboy, passionate about photography and films – at 17, he even worked for film director Stanley Kubrick on the film Barry Lyndon. During his early years, there was no indication that March would someday be recognised as one of the most respected and elegant gentlemen of Great Britain. However, as heir to the West-Sussex family estate, Goodwood, and as a true blue-blooded British gentleman, he knew that traditions were important and so from that time onwards, the Charles Gordon-Lennox playboy of the 1970s transformed into the Lord March we know today.
March moved from London to Goodwood to take over management of the estate, following a family tradition where the duke would hand over management of the estate to the heir, when the latter turns forty. Motorsport at Goodwood was started by his grandfather, Freddie Richmond, who opened the Goodwood Motor Circuit in 1948. However, it is really under Lord March’s management that Goodwood gained its credentials and the worldwide recognition it receives today. March established the Festival of Speed at Goodwood House in 1993. On the back of that success, he brought motor racing back to the circuit, which had closed in 1966, and he did all that by starting the Goodwood Revival in 1998.
With now close to a quarter of a century track-record, Goodwood Festival of Speed has become a major event for all car lovers. It is an annual hill climb, featuring historic and modern motor-racing vehicles, held in the grounds of Goodwood Estate. The hill climb is at center stage during the FoS weekend, however there is so much more to see at the Goodwood FoS, with parades of all things able to be driven, historic-cars exhibitions and most major car-brands exposing their latest (sport-cars mainly) creations. The FoS really is a must-see for everyone interested in cars and racing.
The FoS Hill-Climb
The main event of the Goodwood Festival of Speed is actually a race, classified as a hill climb. So figure that: a 3.5m/12ft wide countryside road passing in front of the Goodwood Estate and then plunging into the nearby forest, surrounded by slippery grass, bales of straw (for security) and stone walls. On that “road” (you can call it a road, as I’d name it a trail), put anything that has an engine, 4 wheels and a steering wheel and make them drive as fast as possible to reach the top of the hill. Sounds dangerous? Don’t forget that Britain is a petrol-head country. They call it fun.
From early 20th century motorized-phaetons, to the “Beast of Turin” and its 28,5 litre engine, to all kinds of million dollar priced vintage Ferraris or ex-Le-Mans racing cars, almost everything is racing at Goodwood (even if F1 cars are not allowed to race anymore, for safety reasons). The FoS is a celebration, depicting over 100 years of car racing, and all of the participants, whatever they are driving – or sometimes simply trying to keep on track – are here to win. It is impressive to see such rare and valuable models being driven so fast, on such a narrow countryside road. And that’s exactly why the FoS is such a passionate event.
The Supercar’s Parade
Goodwood Festival of Speed isn’t just about the hill climb. In fact, it is an entire village dedicated to the sports car, to passion for everything with 4 wheels and an engine. Alongside the race-track (sort of), brands are showing off their latest novelties. And don’t expect to see Dacia or Toyota, but rather an opened-roof McLaren booth or a Bugatti GTG event. Walking in the alleys of FoS is like walking in the middle of a toy-shop for grown-ups.
In addition to that, you can also enjoy the supercar parade, where brands push these ultimate road-cars to their limits, on the same race-track as the hill climb – even if here, there’s no competition matters here, but just pure pleasure of seeing rare cars driving hard. Unless you live in Dubai, you’re unlikely to see such an impressive supercar gathering anywhere. Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, Maserati, Aston Martin, Bugatti, Porsche, Pagani… Once again, everything that the car industry has of exotic is visible, and put through their paces at Goodwood. Just for the pleasure, here’s a selection of cars that were participating in this year’s parade… (without the noise / music that comes along)
Cars, cars and cars again
What are we missing from this weekend at Goodwood Festival of Speed 2017? Cars, maybe? Well, as the FoS is all about cars, so wherever you walk – as everything is access-free, even the pits where vintage Ferraris are parked – you can almost feel the passion and joy. Collectors, passionate people and their cars are just parked all around, in the most casual way. The photo below, I think, sums up quite well the atmosphere at Goodwood… End of the day, the sun was setting, and this magnificent Eagle E-Type Low Drag GT was shamelessly showing its nice curves to me, and to everybody who was walking around (we are still talking cars here).
Walking thought the show is an unforgettable experience. By that, I mean that even people with low to no passion for cars can easily fall in love – the cosy, casual and opened ambiance of the show making it impossible not to enjoy the moment. Again, FoS is the opportunity to admire cars, all kinds of cars, from the early days, to the golden-age of “gran-turismo” sports cars to the modern supercar era.
And Montblanc Watches too…
Of course, this wouldn’t be Monochrome if there was not, at least, a small part focussed on watches, and of course, there were plenty in evidence, particularly as this 2017 Edition of Goodwood FoS marked Montblanc’s new role as official timekeeper to the event. This goes along with the launch of the new Timewalker collection, a line up of watches deeply inspired by automotive and racing cars. Launched at the SIHH 2017, Davide Cerrato, the Head of the Watch Division at Montblanc, took inspiration in old stop-watches made by Minerva to time racing events – Minerva is now property of Montblanc and is the high-end division of the brand. Yet, the collection keeps the roots of the Timewalker model: modern and urban – with a new car-related inspiration.
Goodwood Festival of Speed 2017 was also the occasion for Montblanc to launch two new models, evolutions of existing watches, yet with a rather cool look. The first is the red gold version of the TimeWalker Chronograph Automatic. While the idea of a sporty chronograph usually refers to stainless steel, I have to admit that this gold version does not seem out of place, because of the contrast offered by the Ceramic bezel and the black dial. Also to be noted, while the case might be made in a luxurious metal, it is fully brushed, meaning that it’s not shiny and so retains a relatively toolish approach. This new version of the TimeWalker Chronograph Automatic in red gold keeps the 43mm diameter and its automatic movement. It is priced at $19,500.
The new Red Gold version of the Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph Automatic
The second new watch to be unveiled during FoS 2017 is a new limited edition based on the TimeWalker ExoTourbillon Minute Chronograph (introduced at the SIHH 2016, and prefiguring the design of the new TimeWalker collection). This watch integrates a monopusher column-wheel chronograph (base movement of the Rieussec watches) with off-centered hours / minutes, and adds to it Montblanc’s own anti-gravity regulator, the Exo-Tourbillon. For 2017, the 44mm-sized 3-part case is now coated in black-DLC, with a black dial and several red accents all around. The dial has been simplified for an increased legibility and a more modern look. Also, the back reveals an entirely black-plated movement. This new TimeWalker ExoTourbillon Minute Chronograph is a 100-piece limited edition, priced around $52,000.
The New black-DLC coated TimeWalker ExoTourbillon Minute Chronograph