Hands-On With The REC Watches P-51 Limited Editions
The concept of integrating the car world into the world of watches is nothing new. But few watch brands take the task as literally as REC Watches from Copenhagen in Denmark. The brand is known to integrate parts of iconic vintage classics into its watches. For its latest project, REC founders Jonathan Kamstrup and Christian Mygh integrated parts of two legendary Ford Mustang prototypes to come up with two very special dials. Time to go hands-on with both and find out more about the story of these REC P-51 Limited Editions.
Copenhagen is one of my favorite cities in the world. Over the last couple of years, I have visited the city every year. Last year was an unwelcome break from that tradition, unfortunately. The combination of design, good food, amazing craft beer, and the extremely relaxed atmosphere is a great recipe for an annual weekend trip. And as soon as we are allowed to, I will plan a new visit and enjoy more of everything the city has to offer.
Trips to Copenhagen
Now, one of the things I like to do when in Copenhagen is to grab a bike and explore different parts of the city. As a Dutchman, I am no stranger to riding a bike quite a bit. It’s a big part of why the city feels so comfortable and relaxed. One of the places I like to visit most while in Copenhagen is a part of town called Nordhavn (North Harbour).
A Danish watch brand that re-uses parts of vintage cars to create new watches.
This waterfront part of town has transformed into one of the most stunning places for urban development. It’s full of great modern architecture and around every corner, you will find something exciting and surprising. It’s not the first place you would think of as a home base for a Danish watch brand that re-uses parts of vintage cars to create new watches. But this is precisely what you’ll find, in this part of town.
Appearances can be deceiving. But dig a little deeper and REC fits Nordhavn quite well actually. One of the most interesting spots in Nordhavn is the Portland Towers. These two gigantic former silos have been converted into a sustainable office building that looks stunning. Standing underneath them, makes you feel incredibly small and humble. And they have been created with the same principle of using old parts to come up with something new. And there is more of this clever re-use of existing buildings going on in the area. So it actually fits the upcycling concept of REC quite well.
REC P-51 Limited Editions
The REC P-51 is by no means a new model in the brand’s collection. The first time we saw a P-51 was back in 2015 when the brand introduced the model inspired by Ford Mustangs from the 1960s. Six years on and the brand has created a special set of two limited editions. The first is the P-51 Little Red that comes in a limited run of 318 pieces. The second is the P-51 Green Hornet and comes in a limited run of 282 pieces. And what is so special about them? While the concept of using parts of the iconic vintage Mustangs is the same, the brand has found a special pair of prototype Mustangs to act as donors.
Like wearing a part of a car on your wrist.
On top of that, the guys at REC Watches have used the two prototypes as inspiration for the overall design. So if you are into the combination of cars and watches, this is the most integrated manifestation of the two. While a brand like Gorilla Watches uses cars as inspiration for the design of the watches, these two REC P-51 Limited Editions feel like wearing a part of a car on your wrist.
REC P-51 Little Red
The first of the two is the REC P-51 Little Red. It has a dial that is made from a piece of the legendary 1967 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 EXP. This prototype was completely restored and went up for auction at the 2020 Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona. This prototype was believed to be destroyed but a special research team led by Craig Jackson from Barrett-Jackson auction house tracked it down in 2018 in rural Texas.
Quite a few details that hint at one of the most iconic Mustangs ever built.
The guys from REC actually got their hands on an unused sheet of metal leftover from the restoration process of the old car. The remarkable dials of the P-51 Little Red were fashioned from this material. On top of that, the guys designed a watch that will look familiar to Mustang enthusiasts. There are quite a few details that hint at one of the most iconic Mustangs ever built.
Mustang design details
The REC Watches team decided to design a new cushioned shape case that has a 42mm diameter in comparison to the 44mm of the previous P-51 models. The case is 13.35mm thick and has a lug-to-lug length of 48.5mm. The stainless steel case is made of four pieces and has a black PVD coating and stamped sides. It is water-resistant to 50 meters. Underneath the sapphire crystal, a big red inner bezel features a 60-minute track whose font type is a hint to the font used for the Mustang.
A big white hour hand and a contrasting black minute hand with a red tip tell the time. On the metal base of the dial, you will find two sub-dials that are inspired by the gauge clusters found in the car. At 9 o’clock you will find a skeletonized small seconds sub-dial.
One of my favorite dial features is the power reserve indicator of the Swiss Technology Production STP2-12-13 movement at 6 o’clock. It looks like the fuel gauge and is expertly integrated into the overall design. The dial also has a little plate reminding you of where the watch got its inspiration from. The watch comes on a high-quality thick black leather strap that fits the style of the case perfectly.
REC P-51 Green Hornet
The second of the two watches is the REC P-51 Green Hornet. For this watch, REC used parts of the 1968 Ford Shelby Mustang Prototype nicknamed the Green Hornet. This iconic vintage Mustang was restored at the same time as the other car. Furthermore, it also went up for auction at the same 2020 Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction. Now, as the design of this car was slightly different, so too does the watch also looks slightly different. It uses the same 42mm case but instead of a PVD coating has a regular brushed finish.
The dial of this one is also made from excess sheet metal leftover from the restoration of the Green Hornet. On top of the base, you will find a combination of a black inner bezel with a slightly different 60-minute track and a green contrasting inner ring. The watch also features a white hour hand and bright orange minute hand that contrasts well with the green color.
The dial features sub-dials in the same positions as on the P-51 Little Red. However, the power reserve indicator looks completely different. In this instance, it shows the number of hours the movement has left to run (as well as an arrow indicator, resulting in a really neat double display). The Green Hornet comes on a two-tone grey and black leather strap. The design is the same as the black version of the Little Red and is inspired by the leather seats of both cars.
Swiss Technology Production Caliber STP2-12-13
Both watches feature screw-down case backs. These case backs are decorated with all the info about your limited edition and the car that the watch gets its dial from. Underneath the case back, you will find the Swiss Technology Production STP2-12-13 movement that powers both watches. The movement is based on the popular STP1-11 movement from the Fossil Group movement manufacture. The self-winding STP2-12-13 operates at 28,800vph, has 36 jewels and features an indicated power reserve of 42 hours.
They are a good alternative for ETA or Sellita movements.
The STP1-11 movements are essentially ETA 2824 clones and have a reputation for being reliable movements. For many of the smaller independent brands, they are a good alternative for ETA or Sellita movements. The STP2-12-series are modular movements based on the STP1-11 and get rid of the central seconds hand. The STP2-12-13 specifically adds the mentioned small seconds and a power reserve. The accuracy is specified at +15/-0 seconds per day.
Wearing the REC P-51 Limited Editions
The moment you put on either one of these watches, you know you are wearing a serious watch. The two P-51 Limited Editions feel solid and high quality. I would go as far as a lot better quality than many of their independent peers in the same price bracket up to €2,000. Every part is well thought out and produced to a high standard.
The second thing that stood out is the 42mm cushion-shaped case. It’s a good thing that REC decided to make the watches smaller because that particular shape is not always easy to wear. And even at 42mm, this feels like a chunky watch. Don’t get me wrong, its size, design, and bold character all fit the concept of the Mustang perfectly. But if you are looking for a slim and comfortable watch, you’re in the wrong place. These two watches are just as much statement pieces as the cars they got parts from. So, big and bright it is. Thankfully, the high-quality leather straps keep the watches perfectly balanced on your wrist.
Which one is the better of the two?
When it comes to preferences, I liked the Green Hornet a little better than the Little Red. Overall it feels a little more vibrant because of its green and orange color combination. As every dial of every one of these watches is unique it’s difficult to say which one is “better”. The dial of the Little Red we had was scratched look beaten up compared to the polished dial of the Green Hornet. I like a bit of character and on top of that, the scratched dial of the Little Red is a better reminder of why you bought the watch in the first place.
But I like the little design details like the power reserve better on the Green Hornet. Overall I can say that the REC guys have put a lot o f time and effort into these two limited editions and it shows. And if you are into these two watches and would like to buy one at their €1,398 list prices, you probably already have your favorite figured out.
Which brings us to a serious question: who these watches are for? These two watches have a story to tell. Above all, it’s a great story that will attract the lovers of Ford Mustangs. Like Tomas said in his review of the REC RNR “Roads Not Required” Beach Runner. REC’s watches are special to the people who own a car they are based on. It created this instant connection that is hard to beat.
On top of that, there will be a large crowd of car enthusiasts that will also love this watch as it is a great combination of both the car world and the watch world. But if you are not into cars, this is probably not for you. But that’s okay too. With the limited production run and the many fans of the iconic vintage Mustang, there is definitely a large potential audience for these two watches.
Personally, I love the story of the two restored Ford Mustangs. And I also love that REC Watches has used parts of these two cars to create something special for Mustang lovers. Having said that, I am not the right person for this watch. I am not looking for a watch that mimics a car or parts of a car. Sure a watch design can be influenced by a car’s design but this is taking the design of the two Mustangs and translating them into a watch. And I like my watch to be an original watch design rather than a car design.
Call me a purist or old-fashioned but that’s simply how I am wired. But that doesn’t take anything away from the story, charm, and build quality of these two watches. I recognize the great potential for the brand to find continued success with this concept. After all, the brand has already been around for a few years proving there is definitely an audience for this kind of thing. And it’s great to see that the Copenhagen brand is able to constantly come up with new ideas and bring them to market. And next time when I ride my bike in Nordhavn, I will definitely think of REC watches. Because these two watches are a statement that is hard to forget. If you want to find out more, visit the official REC Watches website.