Voice of the machine
His life has revolved around racing ever since those early days – as driver, as the manager of the late Formula One star Graham Hill, as an F1 commentator and, subsequently, as a BBC presenter and documentary film-maker. He’s also an accomplished pilot (qualified to fly Spitfires), an authority on George V postage stamps, a connoisseur of English landscape painting, an expert on early Leica cameras, a collector of silver and flintlock pistols, an insatiable traveller and a sportsman who counts scuba diving and tennis among his pursuits.
And he is, of course, a fan of fine watches – which is what brings this remarkable, entertaining, fascinating and lovable septuagenarian to the pages of Revolution. “Like most people with a passion for cars, motorcycles, aircraft and anything to do with engineering, I absolutely love watches,” says de Cadenet who, through his links with the old car world, developed a friendship with the late horologist George Daniels.
“That said, I only actually own three watches: one is an original Longines Lindbergh that I bought for its aviation links and because I think it is a brilliant design, and the second is a Lemania single button chronograph. But the watch I have worn almost every day for the past 48 years is my beloved Omega Speedmaster, which I simply can’t imagine being without,” he says.
“I bought it en route to the Nürburgring in 1968. I was towing a trailer from Brescia in Italy to Germany carrying a Ferrari 206 SP, which I was going to race. Feeling a bit tired, I stopped in Zurich. While looking around, I found two Omega Speedmasters in a watch shop and bought them for £35 each. I put one on my wrist and gave the other to a racing driver called Edward Nelson in exchange for driving me around the notoriously difficult ring so I could learn it.”