The Pit Lane case measures 47mm wide and it isn’t exactly thin either at 17.9mm thick. All that space is used for the good purpose of extending the intricate design allowing for more angles and more screws. The futuristic, fantasy art-style case comes at you with a series of design elements that form a more or less cohesive timepiece mass. There is playful fun to the design which does not take itself too seriously, especially since it does not appear the watch is attempting to emulate or follow a theme. The Pit Lane feels larger than life and more comfortable with itself being considered a toy for wealthy adults versus a serious timepiece. Is there room in the world for luxury toys of this nature?
For this version of the Pit Lane Cecil Purnell uses 18k rose gold and titanium. Certain parts of the watch are PVD coated black to emphasize the colors and enhance a sense of contrast. What guy doesn’t like a cool black and gold watch, anyways? Perhaps the most interesting element of the case design is how the crystal is attached. Rather than popping in a sapphire crystal in a bezel, in the Pit Lane the entire top of the watch it topped with a sapphire crystal. It is lined with a rubber bumper that looks like the grip on a rotating bezel (though this one is fixed), and it uses screws (and o-rings I am sure) to hold it into place. I though that was pretty cool.
Even between the 10 pieces in the limited edition there are differences between each Pit Lane timepiece, as I understand it. For one thing not all versions have these hands. In fact, if you visit the Cecil Purnell website and inspect the image of the Pit Lane they have on their website, you’ll notice a stream of minor differences that are mostly a matter of different colors and finishes. The pictured version there further has more classic dauphine-style hands. It begs the question of why these slight design differences exist. Does Cecil Purnell offer a degree of customization to each customer? That is possible and highly common among highly-exclusive brand. Or maybe Cecil Purnell simply decides using their own taste how to make each or some of the 10 pieces a little bit different.
With all that is going on design-wise on the case, it is shame that the watch does not do more. Actually, Cecil Purnell decided to make the watch a bit more simple than it was intended to be. Apparently there used to be a pusher on the case to adjust the big date indicator. The system was a bit more traditional in construction meaning that if you attempted to adjust the date between certain “PM” hours until right after midnight it could damage the movement. In fact, people were breaking the movement and rather than resolve to fix movements forever or use a different movement, Cecil Purnell decides to simple remove the functionality of the pusher. How then do you adjust the date? The traditional way. Adjust the time past midnight until the date changes, and then set the time back a few hours, advancing forward past midnight to change the date again, repeating until the date is correct. That is how it used to be before “quick set” dates become more popular, and something that owners of Pit Lane and perhaps other Cecil Purnell timepieces are expected to do for the time being.
Speaking of the movement, it is worth discussing that element of the Pit Lane as it makes up so much of the wearing experience. Sure, the case is nothing to gloss over, but the movement makes up a big part of the theatrics, given that the watch lacks any real dial. Called the Calibre CP-V12, the movement is apparently specially made for Cecil Purnell. Manually wound, it offers the time with hours and minutes, a big date indicator, as well as a tourbillon (that doubles as a seconds dial). The movement has a power reserve of 55 hours and it operates at a frequency of 3Hz (21,600 bph).
Visually the CP-V12 movement is pleasant to admire and represents a lot of traditional Swiss design and aesthetics. In fact, if the case is trying to be edgy and really “far out,” the movement is doing just the opposite being much more conservative, yet highly decorative in its approach. The movement is designed to be admired. While not technically skeletonized, it does display a lot of the movement naturally, including the big date discs as well as the tourbillon that sits on a lower plane and is highly visible.
Why does the Pit Lane watch have a tourbillon? Well, really for no other reason that to offer another status cue. I have a feeling the type of consumer interested in a watch like this demands it as well. It honestly doesn’t hurt the design either, so given that pretty ambitious price of the Pit Lane, having a tourbillon as part of the movement simply feels natural.
On the left of the case is a screwed plaque that says “Pit Lane.” It is a rather industrial name tag on what is a very high-end watch. It would be easy to describe the Pit Lane as a “lifestyle watch,” but I really would not know what lifestyle I’d be referring to. I will simply repeat that it exists among a world of luxury fantasy watches. It feels as aggressive and masculine as it does futuristic, living among a breed of “big boy” toys for those whose live are capable of affording this type of fun. And fun it is. On the wrist, with its impressive level of wearing comfort, the Pit Line brings a simple smile to the face of my child self within. It is a watch that communicates the personality of a gadget loving, car driving, project building, high income earning, man who more or less has it all, and is able to have a good time doing so. He isn’t the type of person who would pay too much mind to those who didn’t like his watch, either. Price for the Cecil Purnell Pit Lane is $198,800 and it is limited to 10 pieces in 18k rose gold. cecilpurnell.com
>Brand: Cecil Purnell
>Model: Pit Lane ref. 12.P/OR.01
>Price: $198,800 USD
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yea, I think so.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Very well-funded individual who likes to personally operate at least a dozen different vehicles per week.
>Best characteristic of watch: Polarizing design makes it look like the futuristic Tonka truck of timepieces – if you are into that sort of things. Defies conservative watch industry conventions on a range of levels and is a totally risky design.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Some sharp edges, could use more legible hands, rather wild price.