Chuck Maddox’s Watch Blog

This page is a journal of my journey in the field of Horology, which is timekeeping. In other words, watch collecting. Which in my case is the collecting of chronograph watches. To contact me, email me at: cmaddox3@sbcglobal.net .

Name:
Location: Chicagoland, United States

The Extremely wordy version of my Resumé is located here: http://home.xnet.com/~cmaddox/resume.html

Monday, December 13, 2004

Op-Ed: Shame it never happened… i.e. Trust but verify!

Nervously eyeing a Heuer Monaco, Steve McQueen sat in the racing car's cockpit, waiting for the grueling Le Mans race to begin. Once the flag dropped, this uncompromising, self-styled rebel of the 1960's was off with a loud VROOM, striking a uniquely dynamic and aggressive pose as he carved up asphalt. Magnetic statements were typical of McQueen. The unflappable, rugged hero of The Magnificent Seven (1960) and The Great Escape (1963), he epitomized star power. But as this iconic figure hurtled across the French countryside, showcasing his (real life) prowess behind the wheel, Man conquering Machine was only one of the potent celluloid images. Occasionally flashing that big and bold (1970) Monaco on his right wrist, McQueen also underscored the aerodynamic sleekness of this soon-to-be-popular timepiece, its rakish American personality, and the overriding fact that cars and watches are an incontrovertible marriage of mechanical wonders.

-- Ed Kiersh: WatchTime October 2002, Page 48

Wonderful story, Beautiful imagery, prose paints a vivid image...

It's a shame it never happened…

For while Steve McQueen drove in LeMans, the Movie, he never actually raced (to my knowledge) at LeMans the event

The deal was set for McQueen to spend the summer of 1970 doing principal photography for the movie, McQueen had even purchased a Porsche 917k and was planning on entering it in the race. Enter Mario Andretti, who said in an interview that LeMans was probably the most dangerous race in the world because of the extreme breadth of cars in the race, from Prototypes like the Porsche 917L and Ferrari 512M that were capable of topping out at over 240 miles per hour on the long Muisanne Straight to race prepared, but comparatively anemic Alfa's and Porsche 911's of the day. Andretti probably had an alteriour motive or two considering that he was put behind the wheel in a desparation move to salvage face in the 1970 Sebring race that February when a year old Porsche 908 driven by the late Peter Revson (one of the Revlon Cosmetics Heirs) and McQueen (who was wearing a cast on his broken clutch foot) very nearly won after attrition took out all of the 1st line Porsche and Ferrari contestants. The backers of the film gave McQueen an ultimatium: Drop out of the race or lose backing for the film. When faced with the decision to race for real for one day, or race all summer and have his dream film be made, McQueen wisely choose the latter, and today we can enjoy this film.

The reason I bring this up, is one of the things I learned to do when researching products I was intending to buy over 20 years ago, was to read an article or review and boil it down to facts, opinions and value judgements. And to really scrutinize what was printed. In these days of political operatives spoofing historical documents, and network news departments not doing the most basic of fact checking that would cause the reporter or editior of a High School Newspaper to be booted off the paper, there seems to be a dearth of research and fact checking by the authors or editors of many publications. I will give you another example...

“THE SPEEDMASTER PROFESSIONAL CHRONOGRAPH FROM OMEGA (1957) It was an entirely normal Speedmaster Chronograph from Omega, water-resistant and with a tachometer scale on its bezel, that NASA ordered on September 29, 1964, subjected to grueling tests and ultimately selected to serve as the official astronauts wristwatch in early 1965. On March 23, 1965, the chronograph with the columnwheel Caliber 321 made its first flight into outer space aboard the Gemini 3 space capsule. The model was renamed the Speedmaster Professional in 1966 in recognition of its professional performance on the wrist of astronaut Edward White during his historic space walk. The same timepiece also accompanied Neil Armstrong when he took mankind's first giant step on the lunar surface on July 21, 1969.”

Classic Timepieces: 50 Wristwatches CHOSEN BY WATCHTIME'S EDITORIAL STAFF, WatchTime December 2001, Page 70

Mr. Armstrong never wore his Speedmaster when he went EVA on Apollo 11! This is pretty basic and easy to check.

I'll admit that my Article on which watches were worn on/near the moon had only been posted in TimeZone Classics since June of 2001, but I had posted, in essessance, the same article twice previously although I rewrote it each time. However, all of the websites from which I drew on to write that were up, and locatable via Google, Yahoo, or anyone of an number of other search engines.

When writers, editors and producers of material neglect, either accidentally or intentionally even basic back-checking a smart reader/viewer must do that themselves. Don't take the printed or broadcast word as gosphel. Look a little deeper at the basis for what is being said and scrutinize it for it's value and worth.

-- C

P.S. Although I used two examples from WatchTime magazine, do not think that I am singling them out. It happens that Jeff Stein sent me a link to their archive pages and the two passages above struck me as being in error. Unfortunately, other watch magazines, other publications in general, and most media have similar gaffes. I'm likely not immune either… So scrutinize me too! As an esteemed U.S. President once insisted “Trust but verify!”…


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