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From the Motor City, Detroit Watch Company now offers three new watches that celebrate automotive racing with a distinctive retro touch.

The independent watchmaker, known for its Detroit-themed chronographs, moonphase watches and its City Code Collection with a playful area-code dial layout, this month releases the M1-Woodward LeMans Classic Chronograph Exhibition, a set of ETA Valjoux 7750-powered chronographs that commemorate legendary Ford and Porsche racecars.

The new M1-Woodward LeMans Classic Chronograph Exhibition, available in 42mm or a 44mm steel case.

Detroit Watch uses its M1-Woodward Avenue chronograph as the base of the new collection, which consists of steel models in two sizes and three dials designed with 1960s-style Gulf racecar livery colors. This means you’ll see a dial of classic light blue interrupted by an orange stripe.  

The trio is differentiated by a large racecar number set within the small seconds subdial along the orange stripe. Detroit Watch is offering a choice of dials with any one of three numbers, 6, 9 and 20, which correspond to particular LeMans racecars from the late 1960s and early 1970s. Each watch is made in 42mm and 44mm steel case options. 

Le Mans winners

The M1-Woodward LeMans Classic Chronograph Exhibition with the number 20 refers to the Porsche 917K driven by Steve McQueen in the 1971 film “Le Mans.” Detroit Watch explains that the 1970 Porsche 917K, chassis 024, was used as a test car for Le Mans before becoming the star car that McQueen drove in the movie.

The model bearing number 9 references the 1968 Ford GT40, chassis 1075, racecar number 9 that was the 1968 Le Mans winner. It was driven to victory by Pedro Rodriguez and Lucien Bianchi.  Chassis 1075 would also go on to win Le Mans in 1969 with racecar number 6.

Which brings us to number 6, which references the same car, a Ford GT40 driven to victory by Jacky Ickx and Jackie Oliver in 1968 at Le Mans. This was the second Le Mans win for chassis 1075 following the 1968 win with race number 9.

Detroit Watch matches the new Le Mans dial configuration with a black leather strap with orange stitching. Priced at $1,995, the watch offers strong value given its mechanical specifications, and especially for racecar fans who particularly enjoy the sport’s evocative 1960s and 1970s era.    

The caseback view of the 42mm M1-Woodward LeMans Classic Chronograph Exhibition, exposing the ETA Valjoux 7750 movement with special decoration.

Specifications: Detroit Watch M1-Woodward LeMans Classic Chronograph Exhibition

Movement: Top execution automatic Valjoux ETA 7750 chronograph with Incabloc shock-absorber, anachron hairspring, Glucydur balance.  28,800 Vph, with 48-hour power reserve. Custom DWC decoration.

Cases: 42mm x 14.5mm model is polished & brushed stainless steel, 52mm lug to lug, exhibition back with custom M1 rotor. Screw down crown. The 44mm x 14.5mm model is polished & brushed stainless steel, 52mm lug to lug with exhibition back. Weight: 112 grams w/strap, sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, water resistant to 50 meters.

Dial: Satin white. Hour indexes with Superluminova.

Strap: Calf leather with deployant clasp and quick-release spring bars.

Price: $1,995. 

If the design of this watch feels somehow familiar, you won’t be surprised to learn that Detroit Watch co-designers Patrick and Amy Ayoub have once again applied their classical blueprint to their American-based brand.

The Pontchartrain Louis XIV model from the Detroit Watch Pontchartrain collection. A version with a moonphase display is also available.

Two variations of the brand’s new stand-alone Pontchartrain collection are housed in an elegantly stepped 42mm stainless steel case. Both feature automatic ETA Swiss-made movements, one with a sub-second and the other with a choice of silver or gold moon-phase complication.

All the qualities you’d expect in a high-quality, high-value watch are here, including sapphire crystal, exhibition back, superior decoration on the Swiss movement and a calfskin strap, which all come together to make a fine watch. Under the loupe the hands are as superb as the dials, and even the crown looks, feels and functions beautifully.

Those outside the Detroit area might ask why “Pontchartrain” for a Detroit-based brand? The Ayoubs chose this name to recall the historic fort that was built in 1701 and actually ended up applying its name to the city. France’s King Louis XIV commissioned Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit as the first permanent French settlement in the area and as a center for the fur trade and French military power in 1701.

Built along the Detroit River in order to protect the French trade from the British, the fort was named in honor of Louis XIV’s minister of marine and colonies, Louis Phélypeaux de Pontchartrain. Le Detroit, French for ‘the strait’ eventually came to identify Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit and the surrounding area and after 1751, was known simply as Fort Detroit.

The Ponchartrain limited edition Louis XlV.

A nice watch – and a history lesson.

Price: $1,295, available at www.detroitwatchco.com.

Founded in Detroit in 2013 by designing duo Amy and Patrick Ayoub, the Detroit Watch Company recently introduced the latest addition to its collection with the M1 Woodward automatic with a custom-decorated Valjoux 7750 chronograph movement showcasing the DWC Fleur-de-lys logo.

The Fleur-de-Lys rotor decoration echoes the same patterns found on the flag of Detroit.

Visible through the sapphire crystal back, the Fleur-de-lys decoration adds a subtle touch that speaks to the local provenance of the brand as the same patterns grace the flag of Detroit.

The DWC logo is visible on the rotor.

According to founder Patrick Ayoub, the M1-Woodward Avenue is a highway notably referred to as Detroit’s Main Street and follows the route of the old Saginaw Trail that linked Detroit with Pontiac, and at the time, Flint and Saginaw. Originally created after a devastating fire in 1805 and one of five principal avenues in Detroit devised by Augustus B. Woodward, it derived the “M-1”designation thanks to its heritage as the location of the first mile of concrete roadway.

The Detroit Watch Company’s M1 Woodward chronograph with white dial.

The watch itself is a full-figured stainless steel 44mmx14.5mm beauty and one of the best values on the market for such a beautifully designed and well-built structure framing a fan favorite movement within.Even though offered in very limited editions, if this watch was put to market by ANY big Swiss name brand you could fully expect to see the price as double the $1,895 that the Ayoub’s ask for their work. More at www.detroitwatchco.com