Cvstos Test drive: Challenge Chrono II Loris Baz
WorldTempus was delighted to have the opportunity to visit the Valencia Grand Prix kitted out with the Cvstos watch dedicated to French MotoGP rider Loris Baz. It was a memorable experience, from both a sporting and a horological point of view.
French Motorcycle Grand Prix, Le Mans, May 2016: Cvstos and Loris Baz, the Geneva watchmaker’s newest ambassador, unveil the timepiece dedicated to the only French rider competing in the MotoGP category in 2016. The limited edition Challenge Chrono II LB 76 in steel and blue carbon fibre is fitted with a red strap, in honour of the French tricolore.
Grand Prix Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana, Valencia, November 2016: I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to wear a Challenge Chrono II LB 76, a generous loan from Cvstos, over the race weekend. The timepiece now sports a white strap, at the request of Loris Baz himself. “The watch was nice with a red strap, but I prefer white,” confided “Bazooka” when we met him in the pit at the Grand Prix. “You see a lot of women’s watches with white straps, but it’s much rarer on a men’s watch, and I think it looks great.” Indeed, the watch is strikingly stylish with just two dominant colours – white and blue – and it also looks better on a woman’s wrist (even though it is not primarily a women’s watch) while losing none of its masculine presence.
The Challenge Chrono II LB 76 is tied to the MotoGP world (which has no women drivers, and where the only females are the ubiquitous “umbrella girls”) and it shows: the watch is unashamedly technical, with its three counters for the chronograph hours, 30 minute counter and small seconds, and the raised tachymetric scale in white. Numbers are everywhere on the dial – 15, 30, 45, etc. – but they’re not confusing to eye, a vital requirement for a sport where riders race against the clock to gain an advantage counted in mere hundredths of a second, at top speeds reaching 320 km/h. The parabolic curve of the power reserve indicator (42 hours) between 2 and 4 o’clock draws attention to the watch’s mechanical credentials.
The technical look is enhanced by the Cvstos 577 self-winding manufacture movement, whose dark blue plasma treatment ensures its visibility on the dial side of the watch. When the light penetrates into the movement, the watch’s many levels reveal themselves, giving a startling impression of depth.
With its 53.7 mm x 41 mm dimensions and a depth of around 1.5 cm, the tonneau-shaped case of the Challenge Chrono II LB 76 certainly makes its presence felt, although it is not excessively heavy, even for a woman’s wrist. Its curved profile makes it comfortable to wear, as does the flexible nitrile rubber strap, which is pleasantly smooth to the touch, although it does show the dirt. The lacquered blue carbon applied in variously shaped geometrical inserts around the watch bezel and on the large titanium pushers looks stunning. In the stands of the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia, bathed in sunshine that still felt summery despite the advancing season, the blue carbon glowed with a deep, luminous intensity.
With its steel and carbon accents, tachymeter scale, chronograph, imposing size and crown in the shape of a motorcycle flywheel, the Challenge Chrono II LB 76 is unquestionably a masculine watch. But you don’t need to be a Loris Baz fan to wear it. Apart from the blue and white, which are also the colours of his Avintia Racing team, there is nothing to identify Loris Baz anywhere on the watch, and his bike number – 76 – appears only in the watch’s name. And you don’t have to be a man to appreciate it, as I discovered during my test drive at the Valencia Motorcycle Grand Prix. So, any chance of a spin on Loris’s Ducati?