REC P-51 Review

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Ford Mustang VIN number 6F87CT85151 lived a rather average life. Born in early 1966, it toured the roads in style and power for years before it fell by the wayside after a minor accident. Left to sit in a field for far too long, what started as an easily repairable issue became unsalvageable as rust and decay set in. With a production run of over 600,000 in 1966 alone, it’s by no means a unique story. Still, when talking about such an icon, it’s always sad to see one fall through the cracks and become lost forever. Luckily for 6F87CT85151 and for the rest of us, the story didn’t end there. Dead as it was, the Mustang still had more to give, and thanks to its owner’s generous donation, VIN number 6F87CT85151 sacrificed its body to bring us this- the REC P-51.

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The P-51, named for the Ford Mustang’s famous warbird namesake, is the fourth effort for Danish brand REC and the fullest extension of their unique mission- to create evocative, attractive timepieces out of reclaimed automotive materials. Mustang DNA is plentiful here, and as a design exercise there’s no denying it’s a striking achievement, full of clever elements and callbacks to the ’66 in three separate colorways. The P-51 is also REC’s first mechanical offering, and offers a hi-beat Miyota movement with a sapphire crystal, stainless steel and PVD case, and a rare-for-a-microbrand power reserve indicator at a reasonable $896.00 for early Kickstarter supporters ($1495 retail). But what is the P-51 like to live with?

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$1495

REC P-51 Review

Case
Stainless Steel (Polished/PVD)
Movement
Miyota 9130
Dial
Recycled 1966 Ford Mustang Sheet Metal
Lume
None
Lens
Sapphire
Strap
Leather
Water Resistance
30M
Dimensions
40 x 48mm
Thickness
14mm
Lug Width
24mm
Crown
7 X 5mm
Warranty
Price
$1495

Case

The five-piece case design of the P-51 is all about the details. Chock full of referential Mustang cues and evocative shapes, most of which don’t reveal themselves at a glance, this is a case that demands careful inspection. From the front view, it’s a late 60’s rounded square case on steroids, evocative (intentionally I’m sure) of the Heuer Camaro, named for the Mustang’s Chevrolet rival. The size, however, is decidedly un-60’s, at 44X48mm with a 24mm lug width. Moving around to the side view, however, the idiosyncrasies of the P-51 really come into view.

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The multi-layer case, with its mixture of polished stainless and PVD surfaces jutting out from the matte PVD center case, seems almost reminiscent of modernist architecture for a moment, until six little impressions on the crown side bring it all into focus- this is the rear end of a ’66 Mustang, complete with fins, chrome bumper, and the iconic Mustang triple taillights.

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It’s a feature that could so easily come off as cartoonish or hokey, but the finish is so fine and the execution is just abstract enough that it all works. The large 7mm screw-down crown sits off-center, signed with REC’s shield-and-gears emblem. It’s completely smooth, which certainly makes for a polished, minimal look, but in practice makes the crown difficult to get a good grip especially while unscrewing. I’d be more than happy to sacrifice a bit of style for functionality and some teeth here. Around the other side, the REC logo is engraved in the “corral” of a stylized ’66 Mustang grille, once again just stylized enough to keep the design flowing. The side view also gives a much better view of the short, sharply downturned polished lugs, sticking just a few millimeters past the tall case sides.

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Around back, the multi-part construction comes into even clearer view, with six allen screws securing the caseback to the polished outer chassis and lug assembly. Engraved vertical lines and info text frame the narrow slice of sapphire display back, with a surprisingly unorthodox format. The 26-jewel Miyota 9130 movement sits well off center in the watch, filling only a portion of the display window, but what is visible is impressively decorated with côtes de Genève, and a custom decorated rotor reminiscent of the optional hubcaps on the ’66 Mustang. The rest of the window is sparse, with nothing but a large REC shield filling the dead space. It’s not an unattractive solution, but I would have liked to see more of the decorated movement.

Dial

For all the flair and finishing of the case, it’s obvious that the dial is the heart of the P-51’s design. The dial is where this watch goes from aspirational to the real deal, the moment where all those Mustang cues and callbacks take real concrete significance. It’s all down to that scratched and rusted steel top dial- the physical legacy of the 1966 Ford Mustang, identified by the dial-mounted VIN plate as 6F87CT85151. Each piece of sheet metal is unique, with its own markings and imperfections, so no two P-51s will ever be exactly alike. The way that light plays across that raw steel, going from harsh reflection to mottled grays, dappled with spots of rust and streaked with reflective scratches, is incredible, and something that I catch myself staring at constantly.

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The contrast between that surface and the rhodium edges to the sub-dials, with their soft, even reflectiveness much like bead-blasted steel, adds even more dynamism. The sub-dials themselves continue to follow REC’s design philosophy of evocation rather than exact replication. There’s almost zero direct copying here, but everything immediately reads “Mustang”. That’s an impressive achievement in its own right. The dashboard inspiration is obvious, with the main dial, date indicator, and power reserve sub-dial clearly riffing on a speedometer, odometer, and fuel gauge, respectively. Both are recessed, giving the watch a ton of visual depth and deepening the gauge connection, but are not so deep that they can’t be read easily from an angle.

The 40-hour power reserve is the less stylized of the two, with Mustang elements from the orange indicator-needle hand to the spacing of the markings, but with a few changes to suit its shift in purpose. The sweep has been turned upside down to accommodate the Miyota 9130’s layout, the “F/E” markings have been changed to “F/L” for full and low, and the sub-dial is labeled with a bold, and rather wordy, “POWER RESERVE”. This text takes up a lot of real estate on the dial, and in the interest of cleanliness it would have been nice to see simply “POWER” or even “FUEL” instead.

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The main dial is more of a blend of elements but manages to bring them together nicely. The orange needle minute hand, like the power reserve hand, is the closest thing to a direct Mustang copy here. The hour hand, however, is a skeletonized white triangle that feels almost like a 60’s radio dial needle, and the second hand is a simple orange-tipped gray stick. It’s a mix that shouldn’t work, but it’s instantly legible and communicates a lot of muscle-car feel in a small space.

The dial itself is gloss black, with a deep groove inside the numerals and right at the edge of the hour hand’s sweep, helping both to emphasize the hour hand and drive home the gauge aesthetic. Around the edge of the dial is a slightly elevated minutes track, and just inside are tall, thin numerals that would feel right at home on the speedo of a Mustang. At 6, however, is an inverted orange triangle pointing to the wide cutout date window. The whole assembly is small, only 20mm wide, but it’s still easily readable even at a glance. Except, that is, in the dark. There’s no lume here. This could be a deal breaker for some, but adding lume inserts to the handset, in my opinion, would have hurt the look badly.

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Movement

The pulsing powerplant of the P-51is the automatic Miyota 9130. Miyota is an almost ubiquitous choice for microbrands nowadays, with the increasing scarcity of ETA customer movements, but somehow this is one of the first outings for the 9130. That’s more of a commentary on the rarity of power reserve complications than it is on the quality of this movement, however, as the 26-jewel 9130 is both competent and attractive. Beating at an impressive 28,800 vph, the 9130 provides a very smooth second hand sweep, adding to the speedometer feel of the dial as well as ensuring dead-on accuracy.

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The power reserve itself, at 40 hours, is more than adequate for the owner who likes to rotate through a few different pieces, and the addition of the complication makes managing that rotation an at-a-glance decision. The decoration here, as seen through the narrow-slice display back, is attractive if unspectacular with uniform côtes de Genève across the plates and a custom-embossed rotor evoking the optional hubcaps on the 1966 Mustang. Overall, it’s a solid choice by REC, but for a watch that retails for $1495, they’re pushing the uppermost limit of price for a Miyota.

Straps and Wearability

The REC P-51-01 comes on a 24mm black genuine leather strap. It’s thick, supple, and has a brilliant signed PVD buckle, but this is a watch that could benefit from experimentation. Olive leather, a sturdy mesh, or especially a big-hole rally strap would all look at home here. It’s definitely more of a casual watch, both in size and design, and works perfectly with a slightly vintage wardrobe. Think white tees, Vans, and denim jackets- classic American masculinity is the P-51’s forte.

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In terms of size, 44mm is ordinarily out of my size range, but the short curved lugs wrap it around my 6.75 inch wrist nicely, putting right at the upper end of what I would consider wearable. That said, it does wear tall at 14mm, and I still wish it was offered in something slightly smaller, maybe a 41mm. The way the P-51 is laid out, though, the size couldn’t be changed without seriously altering the design.

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Hailing from Redondo Beach, California, Sean’s passion for design and all things mechanical started at birth. Having grown up at race tracks, hot rod shops and car shows, he brings old-school motoring style and a lifestyle bent to his mostly vintage watch collection.
seanpaullorentzen
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  • Richard Baptist

    I loved this as a design exercise as you said it’s so enthusiastic you can’t help but love it. The 60’s mustangs are my favorite version of the car – I don’t even look at the modern versions. I’ve reserved a copy and I can’t wait!

  • Svetoslav Popov

    It is gorgeous, I am on board. And there was an answer about FUEL instead of POWER RESERVE in the Kickstarted comments section. and I continue to advocate the choice the creators have taken. FUEL would have been too obvious and would have pushed the watch from its stylish and classy territory into a childish and unWatchie one, if I might invent a word.

  • Никита

    Simply cool! Would change the strap though for something more brutal.

  • Hubert Pellikaan

    Fantastic design! The first speedometer watch that actually catches the speedo spirit! Fabulous! Even tough it is not my style at all

  • VFRMarc

    I have owned and driven early Mustangs and loved them, but have to say that this is a gimmick watch that I wouldn’t wear to a Halloween party.

    • Svetoslav Popov

      I actually don’t like Mustangs that much, but I absolutely love that watch. You take yourself too seriously, have more fun.

  • Nelson

    quirky and cool.

  • Love Mustangs and glad to see a watch paying homage them. The part with the grill on the side of the watch near the crown is just one of those small features that play up the style of this watch. Not to mention, there are two other versions to choose from, which is a nice way to expand the collection.