Sometimes when browsing watches one stumbles upon something that seems seriously out of place. Such was the case when I spotted a Scuderia Ferrari-branded Zenith Chronograph in the listings for tomorrow’s Chrono24/Auctionata auction: Sure, there are Ferrari-branded watches today, but this one dates to “around 1950” and has a yellow logo!
As an enthusiast of both cars and watches, my interest was piqued and I set about doing some research. The result: This isn’t simply a branded watch, it’s a genuine piece of Ferrari history and a fine Zenith chronograph besides. I bet it will well exceed the € 6,000 estimated value!
Let’s rewind to 1950 for a moment. Enzo Ferrari’s Scuderia was a racing company that had just broken free of Alfa Romeo. The company produced its first serious racing car just before the establishment of the Formula One World Championship in 1950, and was ready to challenge Alfa Romeo that year with its successor, the 375.
On September 3, 1950, Scuderia Ferrari entered two 375 F1 cars in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. The famed driver, Alberto Ascari was challenging leader Juan Manuel Fangio‘s Alfa Romeo when his engine block cracked at lap 20. Ferrari moved him over to teammate Dorino Serafini‘s car to finish the race, placing second.
Enzo Ferrari had taken to ordering branded watches in small batches from Super Royal, Vetta, Longines, and Zenith and offering them as gifts to drivers and other VIPs. After the race, Zenith presented Serafini with just such a branded chronograph as a token from the Scuderia. No doubt he was disappointed that he couldn’t finish: It would prove to be his only Formula One race.
This is the watch Scuderia Ferrari gave to Serafini. The actual watch. And it comes with some memorabilia from the race.
What else is there to say about it?
For starters, it’s in excellent condition, much nicer than most period watches. And it’s a Zenith, which counts for something thanks to their continued success (and indeed their continued existence!)
Inside is an Excelsior Park Swiss Castle (column wheel) movement branded Zenith 143-6. Not many are familiar with Excelsior Park, but they were one of the great chronograph movement makers of the period, springing from the famed Jeanneret family of St. Imier, Switzerland. This movement, calibre 4, is descended from their calibre 12/13, notable for its oblong shape and forward-thinking design.
It’s a fairly straightforward watch, with a central chronograph seconds hand and 45 minute counter. This is in a bi-compax arrangement with the small seconds at 9:00.
How much will this watch fetch at auction? If it was a simple 1950 Zenith Chronograph with the same movement, I estimate it would bring € 2,000 or so in this condition. But the memorabilia and sentimental value more than double that in my mind, especially the unique connection to Scuderia Ferrari, the Italian Grand Prix, and Enzo Ferrari himself. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this top € 10,000 if a Ferrari fan gets in on the bidding!
Update: Sold at € 15,400 (€ 12,000 plus buyer’s premium) to a friend from PuristSPro! We were right about the value of this excellent piece!