IWC Keeps The Time Of The Milan-Sanremo Race3 April 2019
The XI edition of the Coppa Milano-Sanremo, the historic event born in 1906 from the intuition of a group of pioneering “gentlemen drivers” of the time, took place between the 28thand the 30thof March. Those gentlemen wanted to give the opportunity to the first wealthy enthusiasts to try their hand at what could then be defined as a daring path towards the sea and the spring colours of the Ligurian Riviera.
This year the regularity race, a revival of the historic competition capable of attracting collectors from all over the world and eager to try their hand at the famous roads that lead from the Lombard capital to the city of flowers, started from the Monza Autodromo. On the morning of March 28th Watch Insanity had the opportunity to admire all the cars present at the race during the sports and technical checks and the free and timed laps in the Monza circuit.
The cars then paraded in the heart of Milan, passing through the fashion district in Via Montenapoleone and in front of the IWC Schaffhausen boutique.
This year, in fact, the Swiss watchmaker was the main partner of Milan-Sanremo together with Mercedes-Benz Italia. The two brands, who both share values such as passion, innovation and engineering excellence, have already collaborated in the past, since the watches Manufacture for several years has created together with the Stuttgart House exclusive ‘limited editions’ seen on the wrists of many fans and collectors.
“As one of the world’s leading luxury watch manufacturers, IWC has been producing masterpieces of haute horlogerie for over 150 years, combining engineering technology with exclusive design,” said Beppe Ambrosini, IWC’s Director for the Italian market.
“The IWC Manufacture has been involved in motorsport for many years: in addition to being a partner of Mercedes-AMG, it also supports historical events such as the Goodwood Members’ Meeting and with the founding of the IWC Racing Team, we are now extending the universe of storytelling that we build around our mechanical watches, underlining once again our role as pioneers in the luxury watchmaking sector”.
IWC and Mercedez Benz have brought back to the streets three icons of the German carmaker: two 300 SL ‘Seagull wings’ and one 190 SL. Three milestones in the brand’s hall of fame with fascinating stories from its past, as in the case of the ‘Cuban’, a 300 SL ‘barn find’, found by an enthusiast in the suburbs of Havana and restored to its original splendour.
Two teams, one classic and the other contemporary, wore the new IWC Pilot’s Watches models, official timepieces of the challenge – an absolute preview for the Italian market – and marked the most exciting moments of the race on the social media with the hashtag #racethetime.
The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL ‘Gullwing’, presented in 1954 at the International Motor Sports Show in New York, enchanted both experts and the public at the time with its characteristic gull-wing doors. Technical details such as the tubular frame and the unusual door structure were an unprecedented novelty.
A special story characterizes the second SL 300, another protagonist of the Milan-Sanremo under the Mercedes-Benz Italy colors. The car belongs to an Italian collector who was on holiday in Cuba in the mid-1990s. There he discovered that a model of the legendary ‘Gullwing’ that in 1958 competed in the Grand Prix de Cuba, laid abandoned in a shed. Bringing it back to Italy was very complicated because of the documents required for the transfer of ownership and, above all, the strict controls of the Cuban customs. To elude the customs blocks, the car was carefully disassembled into small parts under the skilful direction of the German company HK Engineering. In this way, the components travelled as ‘parts of old cars to be restored’, inside boxes sent separately over several months. Once brought together, the car was restored. This long project took more than twenty years and an immense passion to finally revive the ‘Cuban’ to its former glory with the original sports livery of the Grand Prix de Cuba.
Finally, the competition included the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL, a cabrio two-seater launched in 1955 and capable of combining comfort and style without compromise. Karl Wilfert and Walter Häcker designed the body looking at the 300 SL ‘Seagull wings’ supersport car. While the body of the Coupé ‘Seagull wings’ was based on a complex spaceframe structure, the 190 SL Cabrio boasted the shortened floorpan of the 180 Saloon model with its load-bearing body. 190 SL was fitted with the new M 121, a 1.9 four-cylinder 77 kW (105 hp) overhead camshaft engine. Together with its ‘big sister’ (300 SL), it inaugurated the tradition of the famous Mercedes-Benz SL models, which continues today with the exclusive Grand Edition version, presented for the first time in the world at the Geneva Motor Show.
The team made up of Andrea Giacoppo and Daniela Grillone driving a Mercedes 190 SL from 1959 has been awarded by Mercedes-Benz Italy as its best team in the race, ranking at the fourth place.
IWC, instead, offered two prestigious wall clocks to the team composed by Alberto Aliverti and Stefano Cadei, who won the competition on a Fiat 508 C from 1937.
For the first time this year, the awards ceremony was held in Monte Carlo, the last stop of the race, during a gala dinner at the Fairmont Hotel.
By Valeria Garavaglia