Introducing: The REC Watches P-51 Little Red and Green Hornet

The obvious synergies between horology and the automotive world have led to countless partnerships, co-branded watches, and timepieces with features engineered for racing around a Formula One circuit – or maybe just cruising through the neighborhood on Sunday afternoon. Less frequently, one world physically subsumes the other and a car becomes a watch. That’s what we’ve got today.

You’re looking at two-limited edition watches made with reclaimed metal from a pair of one-of-a-kind Shelby EXP500 prototypes: the 1968 Green Hornet and 1967 Little Red. The latter, long thought to be lost or destroyed, made a triumphant reappearance on the world stage earlier this month when it was publicly unveiled, fully restored to its 1967 glory, and displayed at Arizona-based auto auction house Barrett-Jackson alongside Green Hornet – a sibling of sorts with a similar, albeit less dramatic, story of its own. 

The REC P-51 Green Hornet

The history of Ford, Le Mans, and endurance racing is forever linked to Carroll Shelby, the American driver, automotive designer, and businessman whose career as a constructor allowed him to collaborate with some of the leading automotive manufacturers of his day. Of these alliances, it’s Shelby’s work with Ford and specifically the Mustang that are most famous. 

Even within the rarified world of collectible Shelby Mustangs, Little Red and Green Hornet are special. They are the only two notchback coupe EXP500s Shelby made. That each escaped routine crushing following R&D makes them a portal into the history of Ford and Shelby in the late ’60s. 

The Rec P-51 Little Red

The 2018 restoration of Green Hornet, which has been in the private collection of noted car collector and auctioneer Craig Jackson since 2003, led to the unlikely discovery of Little Red. During Green Hornet’s restoration, Jackson floated the idea of looking for the long lost prototype to Oklahoma-based vintage car restorer Jason Billups. If Green Hornet had escaped the wrecking ball, perhaps Little Red had as well. 

Little Red in unrestored condition. (Image via Ford media page.)

After an extensive search, they tracked the car down to a desolate North Texas field, where it had sat for years in abeyance, its condition decrepit. But it was salvageable, and if ever there was a car worth saving, it was Little Red. However, not everything about it could be saved. Some parts had to be removed and replaced with new ones. That’s where REC Watches comes in.

The REC Connect

REC is a Danish company founded by Jonathan Kamstrup and Christian Mygh that specializes in recovering, reclaiming, and recycling iconic objects, principally of automotive origin, into watches. Their work provides many people with an opportunity to own a small piece of something incredibly special. To date, their projects have included recycling Land Rovers, Porsches, Ford Mustangs, and Mini Coopers into watches. Not long ago, REC produced a watch incorporating parts from a Spitfire fighter plane.

When the REC team learned of both cars’ restorations, and that Craig Jackson, CEO of Barrett-Jackson, had materials left over, their minds immediately turned to a potential watch project.

Would Jackson be willing to part with some of his Mustang mementos and allow REC to make watches with them? He would indeed.

The REC P-51 Green Hornet and the P-51 Little Red feature dials made of excess metal that was originally part of Green Hornet and Little Red, respectively.

The process of making the dials involved stripping their paint and primer and stamping them out into watch dials. As the dials are made from steel, they’re quite a bit different from your more typical brass ones. They’re five to seven times thicker, Kamstrup told me. Moreover, as each is individually stamped from salvaged metal, no two are perfectly the same. 

Despite pains taken to clean the metal, there may still be some small remnants of rust – the steel is quite old, after all. This, of course, is not something that one would want to seal unchecked inside a mechanical wristwatch. So REC applies a layer of clear lacquer coating to the dials in order to seal them up. This prevents traces of rust from spreading to other parts of the watch. It also smooths out the surface of the dials to make them truly flat.

The P-51 Green Hornet and Little Red have slightly different dial designs, but their features are the same. Each is powered by an STP automatic movement vibrating 4 Hz with displays for the hours, minutes, small seconds, and power reserve. Red accents on the P-51 Little Red and green ones of P-51 Green Hornet provide a pop of color and visual contrast for the chapter rings. And tucked away between the small seconds and the power reserve on each model is a mysterious black textured patch: A fabricated bit of material intended to evoke a macro view of each car’s black roof. 

Fully restored Green Hornet pictured with Candy Apple Green 2020 Shelby GT500. (Picture via Ford media page.)

REC is offering the P-51 Little Red in a limited edition of 318 pieces. Green Hornet comes in a slightly smaller run of 282 pieces. Each 42mm x 13.35mm cushion-shaped watch is made of 316L stainless steel and features a sapphire crystal with three layers of anti-reflective coating. Little Red is coated with black PVD, and Green Hornet has both black and grey PVD. Both watches retail for $ 1,695.

For more information, visit REC.

HODINKEE

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