The Eberhard & Co Tazio Nuvolari Vanderbilt Cup "Naked" ... yes, this new watch does celebrate a very special state-side victory - but, given the weekend that it is, I'm claiming this one as a "Monaco Special" - here's why ...
Tazio Nuvolari - "Il Mantuani Volante", is perhaps best described using the words of Dr. Ferdinand Porsche who declared him "The greatest driver of the past, present and the future".
At the pinnacle of motorsport what sets the truly great drivers apart from the rest; they are all talented are they not?
From the beginning, Tazio Nuvolari was a tenacious and passionate racer. His career started on two wheels - once having injured his legs in an accident he insisted on being carried on to the track and placed on his bike where he required a push start - both of his legs were fractured. On graduating to four wheels he drove for the greats - Maserati, Ferrari, Bugatti and Alfa Romeo. So determined was he to win, that defeat, when it occurred, would bring forth a fearsome tirade of Italian curses which would send even the most hardy mechanic cowering to the corners.
His epic duels with archrival Achille Varzi became the stuff of legend. Once in the Mille Miglia, Nuvolari ran in second place behind Varzi. As darkness fell Nuvolari, a few kilometres behind was guided only by Varzi's headlights refusing to turn his on until they were approaching the finish at Brescia. So stunned (and blinded) was Varzi that Nuvolari took him and clinched victory.
This weekend Formula One comes to Monaco for what is surely the most famous motor race of them all. Flashback to Monaco 1933 - the first time a grid was decided by timed qualifying (rather than by the luck of the draw). The race is the stuff of legend, a fiercely fought battle between Varzi in a Bugatti and Nuvolari driving an Alfa Romeo, and one which produced the first lap at the street circuit timed at under two minutes.
While in the lead on the last lap with victory in sight, Nuvolari's engine packed in, allowing Varzi to take the lead. Some reports suggest that the engine was smoking, others that it was already ablaze - it matters not: refusing to give in Nuvolari jumped out and pushed his car the last 500 metres over the finish line, only to be disqualified because he did not cross under power.
Tazio Nuvolari raced at a time when there were practically no safety measures and drivers where quite literally expendable - but he was destined to die in his own warm bed in 1953. He was, so the story goes, buried with a chequered flag on his chest and a steering wheel in his hands.
Eberhard & Co waited until Nuvolari's 100th birthday before producing a collection in his honour. No finance-based sponsorship or ambassador deal was ever in place, perhaps Tazio Nuvolari chose to strap an Eberhard & Co to his wrist back in the day when a celebrity could openly favour a watch brand without being paid to do so, or perhaps the brand have simply chosen to celebrate this supremely talented historical racer lest his many feats be confined to the history books.
The Eberhard & Co Tazio Nuvolari Vanderbilt Cup models commemorate the racer's debut at the event, which of course he won. This new edition is the first to have a black dial with white numerals, and it really is a handsome timepiece. There is a little dashboard instrument inspiration in the dial layout and reminiscent of the brand's 1930's chronographs, the timer button is coaxial with the crown.
The movement inside is based on an ETA 7750 and the Perlage and Côtes de Genève finishing is visible through the transparent caseback, no backplate hence the term "naked" means that his one is lighter than previous models.
The Eberhard & Co Tazio Nuvolari Vanderbilt Cup Naked has many notable features - that black dial, those curly swirly numerals which are nibbled up by the overlaid counters, the neat dial layout, to name but a few - but for me that subtle little "TN" on the dial - that clinches it.
More details can be found at the Eberhard & Co website here.
More Eberhard & Co in our archives here.