Steinhart Watches designs have always covered a wide range of styles, from divers to military to racing and more. Recently the popular brand released a new, limited edition model in their racing line that plays homage to the 24 Heures du Mans (24 Hours of Le Mans in English), the oldest active endurance sports car race.
The Le Mans GT Heritage Chrono is a limited edition watch of 111 pieces. The watch clearly shows its racing inspiration right on the dial: the GT at 6 o’clock, the bold orange racing stripe down the right side of the dial, and the model number in a race car format at 3 o’clock. Even the strap takes on a racing theme with a handmade leather racing strap by Gunny, with complimentary blue stitching and large holes. Steinhart wanted to capture the essence of the 1960’s and 1970’s race cars with the design of the Le Mans Heritage.
The case of the Steinhart Le Mans GT Heritage Chronograph is one that we have seen before as Steinhart uses it in some of their Aviation line of watches. The Aviation Automatic and Aviation Chronograph share the same case, with it’s slightly curved 44mm by 44mm diameters and 22mm lugs. It is interesting how Steinhart chooses to use this case in two very different styles of watches allowing only the dials to separate the two different looks. The case back of the Le Mans is transparent, but with an orange/red tint, reminiscent of the stripe on the dial. Both crystals on the front and back are sapphire and the watch has a limited water resistance rating of 5 ATM (50 meters).
The hands of the watch also have a racing inspired feeling, but, as with the case, they are not new. The hands are silver and taper from thick to thin as they extend out from the center. There are cut out circles on both the hour and minute hand that are reminiscent of the rally style strap that adorns the watch. The hands do have a silver of lume at the tip of each hand to provide low light legibility. As mentioned, the hands have been used by Steinhart before in their Le Mans GT Chronograph, which bears a similar name, but uses a different case and the ETA 7750 movement.
The really interesting part about the watch, however, is what is inside. The movement used for the Le Mans GT is a new old stock (NOS) Valjioux 7765 chronograph movement. The 7765 is a hand wind chronograph movement that was produced from 1983 – 1998. The examples Steinhart was able to obtain are from 1988. The ebauches they obtained were cleaned and oiled prior to assembly to ensure they were functioning properly. The functions of the watch include hours, minutes and a sub-seconds dial at 9 o’clock; the chronograph has a center seconds counter and 30 minute sub-dial at 12 o’clock.
For a die hard racing fan the Le Mans GT Heritage Chronograph might hit a home run, it certainly makes a concerted effort to capture the spirit and style of those 1960’s and 1970’s style racers. The watch comes in at 1253 Euros or about $1,700 if ordered from the US, which is quite a bit higher in price than their 7750 powered chronos.
by James Enloe