Diving Watches: From Sports Watches to Certified Icons
In an ever-growing digital world, the stories that create the largest emotional connection to brands and their products revolve around the human touch of handmade products. If you are a fan of vintage watches, you will likely respect the techniques behind other hand-crafted products and possibly even collect items such as vintage cars, vinyl records and record players, handmade shoes, vintage boats, or even old typewriters. These are just some of the products that carry the same sort of emotional value that watches do. From the building process, to being handed down across generations, all of these items carry special stories.
In this series of articles, we will focus on pairings of vintage cars and vintage watches. Not only do both represent the art of fine craftsmanship, they are also recognizable icons that can coordinate perfectly and help define your own personal style. In this article, we will take a look at the Alfa Romeo GTA and the Lemania Monopusher Chronograph and see how they complement each other.
One of the all around most liked and respected car manufacturers that is also reasonably affordable is the Italian brand Alfa Romeo. The brand is well known for its long lineage of stylish cars that are defined by their sporty character. In this article, we will focus on the Alfa Romeo GTA. This is a car that perfectly defines the sporty image of the Italian brand and is a testament to the iconic design vision that attracts many people to their cars.
The most well-known Alfa Romeo model series in history is probably the Giulia series. Alfa Romeo introduced the first Giulia as a sporty sedan in 1962. The car proved to be an immediate success and remained one of the brand’s most important models until it was discontinued in 1978. It was so important that Alfa decided to reintroduce the Giulia in 2015. Its reintroduction was in line with the new brand strategy to bring back the Alfa Romeo image of sporty cars that can be used for everyday driving and on the race track. This marks a return to the good old days of the former Giulia.
Over the course of 16 years, several updates to the classic Giulia were made. Alfa Romeo also produced several sports and convertible models over time. The Alfa Romeo GTA was one of the sports models that was based on the Giulia platform.
In the 1960s, Alfa Romeo was very active in motorsports. The GTA, which stands for Gran Turismo ‘Alleggerita’ or ‘lightweight’, was developed by Alfa’s in-house racing division Autodelta. The car was produced both for racing (Corsa) and road use (Stradale). The first GTA was introduced in 1965 with a 1600cc motor, which was later followed by a 1300cc Junior version. Overall, the design is classic Alfa Romeo and very close to the regular Guilia GT. The biggest difference in terms of looks is the curved lines, which make the GTA even more elegant than the regular model.
However, bigger differences exist in performance as this is a sports car. The GTA saves a lot of weight in materials. It has aluminum body panels instead of steel, magnesium alloy wheels, clear plastic side windows, and whole list of smaller components made from lightweight materials, including lightweight interior trim. The engine featured a newly introduced double ignition cylinder head or ‘twin plug’, the transmission gear ratios were closer than standard, and the gears allowed for quicker and lighter shifting. This resulted in a sports car that weighed only 740 kilograms.
The Stradale version boasted 113 BHP with a top speed of 185 km/h and the full race version boasted 170 BHP with a top speed of 220 km/h. This is compared to the 97 BHP of the regular Giulia GT Super, which has a top speed of 175 km/h. Here is where the racing character really comes to life.
Overall, the legacy of the Alfa Romeo brand is built on their true representation of Italian style. The GTA is one of the most iconic models to combine elegant Italian style with innovation, creating functional benefits of power and speed. Imagine sitting in a GTA with its wooden steering wheel, leather seats, and simple, but iconic dashboard. It’s a nice thought – and one that is complemented by having the right watch on your wrist. For that, we have chosen another example of 60s design: the Lemania Monopusher Chronograph.
Lemania is one of the most recognized names in the vintage watch world. The brand was established by Alfred Lugrin in 1884. Lugrin worked at Jaeger-LeCoultre and at his own manufacture, which he ran under his name. Lugrin quickly made a name for himself and received multiple awards for his expertise in complications such as chronographs and repetition movements. The Lugrin SA workshop was based in Le Sentier, Switzerland, but after Lugrin’s death, his son-in-law Maurice Meylan renamed the brand Lemania and moved the workshop to L’Orient.
An important step in the brand’s history was joining forces with Omega and Tissot to form SSIH (Société Suisse pour l’Industrie Horlogère SA) in 1932. This was the beginning of the brand’s relationship with Omega; a relationship that would give Lemania recognition for developing some of the most iconic watch calibers in history. The most famous of these was the Lemania 1873 (or Omega Caliber .861), the chronograph movement that powered the legendary Omega Speedmaster. Lemania became the embodiment of practical watches that could be relied on in situations where a watch’s functionality was essential.
This also resulted in Lemania equipping several of the world’s militaries with their watches, including Sweden, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. Lemania watches were used by soldiers, airmen, and sailors in some of the harshest conditions imaginable. This is also where the Lemania Monopusher Chronograph found its claim to fame. The first Lemania Monopusher models were based on pocket watch movements and were introduced in the 1920s and 1930s. True recognition came in the late 1940s, however, when Lemania supplied the British Royal Navy and Royal Air Force with the Monopusher Chronograph. These models can still be found online and at auctions and are a very nice representation of functional watches that have become icons. The emotion attached to what was once a utility watch has only grown.
The Lemania Monopusher Chronograph that truly stands out in terms of design and best complements the Alfa Romeo GTA is the Lemania Monopusher Chronograph 6BB. This watch was initially supplied to navigators in the Royal Air Force and later to sailors and submariners in the Royal Navy. The watch suits the interior design of the Alfa Romeo GTA, because both were built around functionality. Plus, as they both come from the same time period, the designs of the Lemania and the GTA strike a similar chord.
The Lemania Monopusher Chronograph 6BB is powered by the Lemania Caliber 2220. The basic chronograph functions – start, stop, and reset – are controlled by a single pusher. The movement was based on the Lemania Caliber CHT 15, a famous pocket watch movement used in earlier renditions of the Monopusher Chronograph. The Caliber 2220 uses the basic design of the CHT 15 and adds extra shock protection for heavier use. Although the watch and the movement are built for optimal functionality, both can be described as elegant and true icons – just like the Alfa Romeo GTA.
Both the Alfa Romeo GTA and the Lemania Monopusher Chronograph 6BB are testaments to the time in which they were created. If you combine the two, you have something even more special. They complement one another in both form and function. Just imagine using the same leather for the Lemania strap that was used for the Alfa’s seats. These are two beautiful stories that you can make your own story – that is, if you can get your hands on an Alfa Romeo GTA. The Lemania might be somewhat easier to find, so start there and discover what makes this vintage piece so special.