Blancpain Endurance Series 24-hour Experience Featured

From the Silverstone race track to the Blancpain 50 Fathoms
by 12 October 2011

Who can refuse an invitation to see the Blancpain Lamborghini in action? I was invited by the luxury watches brand to attend the Blancpain Endurance Series in Silverstone. Landing in Heathrow’s new, expansive Terminal 5, I was immediately whisked 50 miles north of London to Northampton. It was difficult to imagine that the Silverstone circuit was located in the beautiful countryside. My driver sped through quaint country houses, farms dotted with grazing cows, sheep and pheasants, when suddenly Whittlebury Hall came into view.

Blancpain chose this idyllic place to host its invited guests and journalists who were attending the race. Whittlebury Hall had a spa, hair salon, English-stye bar, restaurant, a lovely garden and plenty of parking. I must have lost count of how many rooms there were because it was so big. Many of the guests came in from London to watch the series so they loved the peace and quiet of the country.

The evening with Blancpain started with red and white wine served in the hotel bar. Everyone mingled and caught up with each other before dinner began. In the elegant private dining room, a sophisticated yet casual buffet was set up. Our dinner conversation touched on the London Olympics, the Chinese economy, where we liked to vacation, delicious world cuisine and so on.

The next day everyone arrived at the finale of the Blancpain Endurance Series. The Cooper Tires Series were already under way when the press conference began. SRO Chairman Stephane Ratel and Vice President of Blancpain Alain Delamuraz spoke about the current challenges in racing as well as future developments. It was interesting to hear Blancpain’s full commitment towards the Series and vice versa. A sponsor not only provide the means, but is also an active participant in the world it believes in.

After a coffee break, it was time for the Grid Walk! It was something we were all looking forward to. We were guided into the Grid and tried to stay out of the way as mechanics got the vehicles ready, running back and forth between fabulous cars. Suddenly, all heads turned when Blancpain CEO and President Marc Hayek pulled up to his position in the black and white Blancpain Reiter Lamborghini. Photographers snapped their shots frantically as guests had their photos taken with the car. Inside, the driver – fresh from a ADAC GT master Amateur Driver’s title win – remained concentrated on his race. The Blancpain mechanics team did a thorough check of everything and then it was time for us to get off the track.

Back in the stand, Blancpain had set up a demonstrative watchmaking station, where watchmakers James Avery and Robert Hoffmann explained to us the different movements, parts and even the various kinds of synthetic oil used to ensure smooth operation. They demonstrated their tools and above all, their passion for what they do. It was amazing how every screw – some so small that they really would fly away if you sneezed – was polished, how every jewel had to be measured and how every part had to fit in perfect symmetry with each other in a prestige watch.

To truly appreciate a Swiss mechanical watches brand like Blancpain is to appreciate its craftsmanship. When buying a watch, perhaps you’d just think about how much it would be, or how long it’d take to make one, but have you ever thought about the quality and dedication that go into each timepiece?

This passion for watchmaking transcends into the racing world as Blancpain is the official timekeeper for the FIA GT1 World Championship. I toured the monitor rooms, timekeeping rooms and got a glimpse behind the scenes of the championship. A huge team worked nonstop to make sure everything went smoothly. It was an eye-opening experience to see how much manpower and resources it took to make a British Formula 3 event happen.

Hard work and continuous pursuit of perfection – Blancpain and the SRO Motorsports Group work in synergy to produce great watches and great championships. Next time I pick up a Blancpain Fifty Fathoms or a classic Villeret, it will have that much more meaning, knowing their world goes above and beyond time measurement. It’s also full commitment towards making the pole position in the art of high watchmaking.

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