Wheels & Waves – A weekend with Baume et Mercier and Indian Motorcycles
Baume et Mercier launched their Clifton Club collection at SIHH 2017 under the tagline, "Gentlesportsmen", which featured a metric ton of Abercrombie & Fitch lookalikes running around in crested blue blazers and khakis. If my time with the brand, and the rowdy crew behind Wheels & Waves, is anything to go by, we can toss out the blue blazers and khakis right about now. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
Wheels & Waves was the brainchild of frenchman Vincent Prat, a Southside MC member, who sought to combine his love of motorcycle culture and surf culture, in, of all places Biarritz on the Cotes de Basques, near the border of France and Spain. What started as an informal gathering of Vincent and his closest partners in crime back in 2009, has since swelled into a bona fide cultural phenomenon, with this year's event attracting over 20,000 enthusiasts from all over the world.
With its success all but assured, Vincent set his sights on the US, and in particular, California, which is arguably the ideal nexus of motorcycling and surfing with an exclusive meeting of the minds known as Wheels & Waves California. The event, which took place over the course of a three days in the coastal town of Cayucos, was exclusive in the extreme, with the guest list capped at just 300 of the most influential cats from the tight knit world of custom bikes, racing, and yes, surfing. In addition to Vincent and his fellow Southside MC miscreants, Jerôme Allé, Frédéric Antoine, Benoit Guerry, Thierry de Miras, and Julien Azé, the week played host to such luminaries as motorcycle racer and designer, Roland Sands; multimedia artist and surfer, Brian Bent; the husband and wife team of Go and Masumi Takamine, the creative minds behind Brat Style; and legendary OC skateboarder, Steve Caballero.
(You want bikes? We got yer bikes right here...)
The main sponsors of this year's event were Indian Motorcycles and Baume et Mercier, and they used this opportunity to announce their newly formed partnership, as well as a new series of limited edition watches, including the Burt Munro LE. For those who aren't in the know, Burt Munro was a native New Zealander and motorcycle racer who would go on to set a world speed record on a modified Indian motorcycle at the ripe, old age of 67. (In fact, this achievement was celebrated with the movie, "The World's Fastest Indian", with Sir Anthony Hopkins in the title role.)
(Low, but definitely not slow...)
Gettin' dirty on the oval at Santa Maria Raceway...
(The winners' circle, as it were...)
Crooked sprints on the old runway at Santa Margarita...
(Those chi-chi umbrellas were a godsend – it was HOT out there...)
While the racing was all in good natured fun, there were still stakes, and as such, to the winner – none other than Roland Sands – go the spoils:
(The prize: an ADLC finished Clifton Club with a special engraved caseback.)
Between the flat-track races at Santa Maria Raceway and the crooked sprint trials in 105 degree heat (!!!) at Santa Margarita Ranch, we were treated to spirited rides on Indian Motorcycles' new Scout Bobber, and more importantly, given a preview of the new limited edition Burt Munro Tribute Clifton Club:
(NOTE: We always strive to post only live shots of the watches we talk about here, but the piece that we previewed back in August was a prototype, and as such we couldn't take any pictures.)
The design of the watch hews to the case shape of Baume et Mercier's other mobile collaboration piece, the Shelby Cobra Couple LE from earlier this year, while the strap color and dial elements draw heavily from Munro's streamlined Indian (take special note of the highlighted 184 on the tachymeter bezel, which pays homage to record-breaking speed achieved by the bike).
(A man with a plan...)
Much as with the aforementioned Shelby Cobra collaboration, Baume et Mercier has done a bang up job of creating a watch that isn't a caricature of the object that it purports to celebrate. Too often partnerships of this ilk go too far, or try to hard to create a visual connection to their inspiration that the resulting piece appeals to only the narrowest sliver of fans, whereas the Burt Munro is a handsome watch regardless of whether or not you're familiar with the man or Indian Motorcycles.
Under the hood of the Burt Munro Tribute's 44mm case thrums a tried and true Valjoux 7750, which helps keep the price down to a reasonable $3750; 1967 pieces will be produced. (It's worth noting here that we were treated to an early preview of some other Indian Motorcycle collaboration watches as well, but, alas, the embargo hasn't lifted on them.)
It would be impossible to put on event of this sort, with the the guests involved, and not throw down, so throw down we did.
The location: Swallow Creek Ranch.
The vibe: chill AF.
(Yes, that's Steve Caballero on bass, performing with Brian Bent...)
I made no secret of my admiration for the Clifton Club collection when I first saw the core collection, as well as the Shelby Daytona Coupe LE, back at SIHH 2017, and the new Burt Munro Tribute does nothing to change my opinion of the direction that Baume et Mercier is taking with the brand. At the end of the day, these are distinctive watches, and more importantly, they're fun. Whether or not you consider yourself a "gentlesportsman", or a classic motorcycle buff, the Burt Munro – and other watches coming down the pike – stand on their own in an increasingly crowded field.
The Burt Munro Tribute Limited Edition is currently on sale through Baume et Mercier's website