He never did win no checkered flag, But he never did come in last
When Chris Vail of Lew & Huey shared the initial renderings of the Legends watch, I was baffled. Was that a Monaco case with a Tudor Heritage Chrono dial painted like a lucha libre wrestling mask? Had Chris finally lost his mind? This required further investigation. When I got my hands on a prototype for review, it all began to make sense. Sure, Chris is a madman, but the Legends is no mere clone or mashup. Rather, is a bold and dynamic take on the retro racing theme.
The watch was inspired by the U.S. Legends International auto racing series. From the outside, Legends cars are 5/8 scale replicas of the early, fat-fendered NASCAR racers. The fiberglass bodies are short and narrow, so the wheels and fenders appear exaggerated in comparison. Under this caricature of a body is a serious, purpose built machine with a tube frame, integral safety cage, coil over suspension, and most surprisingly, a 1250cc Yamaha motorcycle engine. The idea is to deliver a fun, competitive racing racing series on an affordable budget. Flip the watch over, and you will find a pair of these rorty beasts duking it out on the curved, screw down case back. (You may notice that that the cars bear the numbers "12" and "6.")
Chris's Watchuseek forum friend Rusty Mahony penned the initial concept, and as you might expect from a man with a stock car hero name, he created a dial of pure high octane fury. The background is plain "body in white" with dual racing stripes down the middle and angular color blocks on either side. The angled indicies, markers, and blocks appear to explode from the center of the dial, bursting the frame created by the brackets in the corners. The 6 occupies a vintage "meatball" number roundel. The porthole date window adds a second racing number effect that should be more pronounced once the window is enlarged in the final version. The baton hands are "pinstriped" with color and lume. They resemble those on the 2011 TAG Heuer Steve McQueen Monaco Calibre 11, and that is is pretty awesome.
There are two boxes on the dial, but this is not a chronograph. The motor is a 21 jewel, 21.6k bph, Miyota 8217 with a 9 o'clock 24 hour complication for all you endurance racing fans. This sub dial is balanced at 3 o'clock by the brand's most hotly debated features: Sparky the Lew & Huey dog, and the brand name emblazoned in a stylized script. If you are one of those people who cannot handle either of these elements, then walk away. This is not your watch. On the other hand, consider the race car aspect. The dog is prominently framed and displayed like a team sponsor's logo, and the company name looks like the kind of painted text you might see on a an early oval-track car. Those two polarizing elements have never been more at home than they are on the Legends.
Three models are currently offered: black/orange, blue/red (with grey stripes), and the blue/orange pictured here. The bright splashes of color underscore the race car inspiration, and the blue and orange on the sample recalls the iconic Gulf Racing colors. This polychromatic display is topped with a sapphire crystal that is curved like a windshield from left to right. I have not seen one like this before, and it creates some very cool off-angle distortion. The downside is that the shape makes anti reflective coating all but impossible to apply; however, in my time with the Legends, I did not find glare to be a problem.
The case is slightly larger than the Monaco's, measuring 39mm instead of 38mm, but it shares its bowed sides, beveled edge, and angular lugs, although those of the Legends are drilled. The Kickstarter page describes the finish as a brushing that resembles wood grain. It looks good, but to be honest, I didn't see grain, just brushing. The watch has tremendous presence but still sits comfortably thanks to the curved case back and short lugs. Overall length is only 49mm so it should remain within the practical limits of all but the smallest wrists. Water resistance is 100 meters, which is more than enough to handle messy days at the track.
A calfskin rally strap with bright stitching finishes it off. The thick leather is 22mm at the lugs and tapers to a 20mm signed deployant clasp. It has the right look, but the strap felt a bit stiff and over processed. This will likely be changed before production. Personally, I would look for a softer, padded version of the classic three-hole rally strap.
The prototype was well sorted and exhibited a good overall level of finish, but like most pre-production models, there will be some tweaks before it is done. The aforementioned date window will grow. The applied markers are broad and matte finished on the prototype, but may be slimmer and polished on the final. The hands may be a tad broader. There is also some debate over whether the lume on the hands and markers should match. Finally, if stretch goals are met, a fourth color combo will be added.
Jerry was a race car driver, He'd say "el solo number one"
With a Bocephus sticker on his 442, He'd light 'em up just for fun
The Legends may have been inspired by the Monaco, but you would never confuse the two. Indeed, the round cased Lew & Huey Riccardo automatic chronograph was far closer to that icon in both style and spirit (as I so brilliantly observed in this early review). The Legends is very different beast. Where the Heuer tightens its line and carves the corners with surgical precision, the Legends hangs its tail out and power slides through in a cloud of burning rubber. Like the eponymous racing series, it delivers a ton of racing goodness in a unique, affordable, package that does not take itself too seriously. Retail price will be $475, and Kickstarter early bird pledges start at $350. Only 300 will be made, so act fast.
Con: Maybe a bit too wild.
Sum: Jerry would approve.
Jerry Was a Race Car Driver - Primus