It’s always extraordinary when an object created to be accessibly priced transcends this objective and becomes a genre-defining icon. Instances of this are very rare. But in the ’50s, the great Enzo Ferrari saw the ascendance of the German sportscar brand Porsche. These machines were anomalies in the high-performance world. For God’s sake, the same man who brought the vehicular abomination that was the ‘People’s Car’, the Volkswagen Beetle, into the world was responsible for their architectural blueprint. They had rear engine placement of meagre — Ferrari would say highly anaemic — four- and six-cylinder motors, that were, of all things, provincial — and air-cooled. But Porsches were light, fun to drive and adopted by cool guys like James Dean who painted amusingly sophomoric names like ‘Little Bastard’ on the side of their cars. Perhaps most importantly of all, they cost many times less than a Ferrari.
You may now insert the appropriate Italian expletives as you imagine the six-foot-two Il Commendatore shaking his manicured fist with wrath. And so, it was that Ferrari finally authorised the production of a mid-engine, six-cylinder car — the Dino 206 GT — that was the most affordable model he’d ever made. His intention, clearly, was to resoundingly trounce the German upstarts and send them whimpering like cowering sausage dogs back to their homeland.
What prompted Hans Wilsdorf, the legendary founder of Rolex, to create a second brand named Tudor during the late ’40s? While theories abound, the most cogent of these suggests that Wilsdorf was about to shepherd Rolex into what would be an enduring era of profound commercial success coinciding with his launch of the sports model, the Submariner, in 1953 and the GMT-Master in 1954. Ever the canny industrialist, it is highly conceivable that Wilsdorf realised that while he could produce his famous waterproof Oyster case and patented screw-down crown in abundance, he was limited in terms of capacity by the number of Rolex movements he could create.