It is called the "Pit Lane" and it has a tourbillon. That pretty much sums the personality of this Cecil Purnell brand timepiece I am about to review. Priced at about $200,000 and designed to be wild, what you are looking at is more than a simple timepiece, but an example of luxury watch art. Love it or hate it, the Pit Lane is a fantasy watch for men who need items to go with their fantasy car, fantasy home, fantasy job, and fantasy life. It is a true experience of the wealthy to own products such as this, and I take a deep look into its guts.
Timepieces like the Pit Lane prove difficult to review in the normal sense of a product review. For example, you can't really consider concepts like practicality. That is because a product like this is intentionally interested in disregarding practicality in terms of how it looks, what it costs, and how it is intended to be worn. In fact, chances are that you'll never see a watch like this in your entire life. For this particular version of the Pit Lane, Cecil Purnell is producing 10 pieces. There is also a version in an all titanium case that will produced as another 10 piece limited edition. That means 20 Pit Lane watches for the entire world, period.
Now let's assume that Cecil Purnell produces a few more limited editions; there are still likely to be less than 50 Pit Lanes ever made - and most of them will be sold directly from the brand to the end-customer. Welcome to the world of ultra-exclusivity. One step below totally bespoke goods, such ultra-exclusive items represent an entire world of products that exist outside what most people are aware of. This is one of the allures of high-end watches for people like me. You get to live as a sort of horological explorer. Not every watch made ends up online being written about by popular websites. There is still so much stuff out there that you aren't going to find unless you seek it out. In fact, most watch collector's will often be quick to tell you that the hunt is often so much more fun than the acquisition.
Cecil Purnell is a brand that we've written about on aBlogtoWatch before, but it is still a company we know little about. What we know is that their timepieces are anything but conservative or traditional and their annual production is very limited. Those who find most of their watch satisfaction from Rolex or Patek Philippe will have little interest in weird stuff like this. Having said that, people looking for serious novelty and willing to pay for effort that sometimes rides a fine line between talent and madness... will enjoy something like this. The good news is that it is actually quite comfortable on the wrist.
There are design elements about the Pit Lane that I enjoy and others that I feel could have been done in a more refined way. Then again, there are dozens upon dozens of design elements to the watch. Many timepieces today attempt to be elegant, simple, classic... Opting to go with a more modern sense of artistic expression that communicates a totality using as few lines as possible. While I have great respect for many of those watches, that really isn't what a piece like the Pit Lane is all about. In fact, while the design is of course contemporary, the aesthetic philosophy of the Pit Lane is ancient. It goes back to a time when a composition was judged more by its aggregated effort as opposed to the totality of its grace and poise. This is creation that wants to suggest, "I'm complicated."
With a name like "Pit Lane" you'd expect a degree of auto racing inspiration. This particular version has checkered black and white hands which are a bit like racing flags but otherwise I am not really seeing too much "motor sport" inspiration. Rather, it looks like a watch inspired by industrial loading trucks. If you are the type of land baron who feels that on any given day your choice of vehicle is a massive dump truck with high-end two-tone leather seats and 6 foot rims for the tires, then the Pit Lane is the watch for you. And here I was thinking that the watch industry had all but abandoned the needs of real industrialists in favor of the fashion elite. There is still a timepiece for everyone out there.