Watches

The Racing Driver Who Turned to Art

By Sotheby's
HEUER, A STAINLESS STEEL TONNEAU-FORM AUTOMATIC DUAL-TIME CHRONOGRAPH WRISTWATCH, CIRCA 1978.
ESTIMATE CHF 8,000–10,000.

Laurence Brownlie, whose Heuer wristwatch features in the Important Watches sale in Geneva on 13 May, was born and raised around cars. Not surprisingly, his dream was to become a racing driver.

In 1965 he bought a car and started participating in meetings. A talented driver, he achieved respectable results and placed 4th overall at the Teretonga Tasman cup meeting which caused the media to compare him to well-known drivers such as world champion Jim Clark.

A changing point in his life was the 1968 New Zealand Grand Prix at Pukekohe where he started as one of the most promising drivers. During the closing stages of the race he crashed with competitor Denis Hulme, the then current world champion F1 driver. This accident remains controversial to this day and marked the beginning of the end of his racing career.

Laurence Brownlie had Heuer lap timer stop watches for his pit crew and was a fan of the brand for ages. He particularly fell in love with the Heuer Autavia GMT when it was launched around 1978. Calling it the "greatest and most beautiful Heuer chronograph ever produced", he went ahead and bought two of them.

After his racing career he devoted himself to art and is now producing remarkable paintings from his home studio in New Zealand. His works evolve around motor racing which is still his passion and something that he likes to share with others.

In that sense he is now also sharing his Heuer chronograph as it comes up for auction for the first time.

The watch is accompanied by a 'Giclee' painting from Laurence Brownlie depicting world champion Jim Clark and himself.

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