Yes, there is a watch company named after the guy who started Chevrolet – the same GM Chevrolet car maker. American icon Chevrolet has Swiss origins. Louis-Joseph Chevrolet, was a Swiss race car driver that founded along with William Durant the Chevrolet Motor Car Company back in 1911. In just 6 short years it was bought by General Motors. They must have been doing something right!
A few years ago the Louis Chevrolet watch company sprouted up in Switzerland. GM was pretty irked about this and the use of the Chevrolet name by the watch company and some legal matters ensued. In the end GM backed down – realizing there was no point fighting a small Swiss watch maker that could only help the automotive brand, not hurt it. As such Louis Chevrolet makes about 1000 watches a year with plans on making up to 5000 a year. Prices for the watches aren’t too bad at between about $1000 – $8000 a piece. You can see some images of the brand’s watches that I snapped here in the article. Some of their watches have a really cool dark blue PVD coating that is really neat.
In 2011 they will release this very unique Driver 1911 watch in celebration of the 100 year anniversary of the Chevrolet Motor Car Company. This is one strange watch, and an ambitious feat. It obviously is reminiscent of the other motoring styles watches that a leaning face that makes it easier to read why your hands are on a steering wheel. See Parmigiani for watches like that. But there is a lot more to the upcoming Driver 1911 watch. The watch is meant to look like the hood of a car, complete with engine. Actually the design of the watch is a cross between an instrument panel, bonnet (as the English say) and engine. If you check out the video you can see more of what I am talking about.
The most distinguishing part of the design is the exposed engine pistons that move like a real engine’s would. In a V8 layout of course. I will have to wait until 2011 to see how this actually works. Mechanically I get it though. It seems like it would suck up a lot of power from the movement. Louis Chevrolet banked on that, so they put two movements in the Driver 1911 watch. At least one is a modified ETA 2892-2 automatic movement. It is operated by one of the crowns that looks like a gas cap. There is also a power reserve indicator for it and a “service life” indicators. This gauge tells you when to get the watch serviced (no check engine light is supplied). Apparently this goes into the red after the watch has been operating for 20,000 hours. The watch dial itself is attractive with a circular pattern and orange Arabic hour markers and lume covered segmented hands.
I’d be curious to know what the watch case itself is going to be make out of it. It is black and shiny, but these are just renders. Steel with an automotive grade paint job? That would be cool. When I met with Louis Chevrolet a few months ago the Driver 1911 was still just a concept, so they didn’t even have prototypes. The oddly shaped case will be 55mm wide and 22mm tall. Like I said, the watch will have two movements. The second will be for the pistons and will be activated on command. This system has its own crown and power reserve indicator. It will also have some type of “rev counter” that shows how fast the pistons are turning. Gimmicky? Sure. But it will likely prove fun to play with. Both movements should be partially visible through the bottom of the watch. This odd little fellow is going to be an important piece for the brand as they are looking to grow. The Louis Chevrolet Driver 1911 watch will be available in a limited edition of only 100 piece.s Probably enough to suit demand. No matter how much I am weirded out by this watch, I can’t wait to handle one.