Porsche's Favorite Chronograph

Taped to Jürgen Barth's steering wheel in 1977, this Omega stopwatch helped Porsche score its fourth victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Sebastian Missel via Porsche

By the time they needed it the most, the Porsche team's racing chronograph had seen a lot of action. But was an important design for Omega. Powered by the high-beat caliber 1131, these split-second chronographs were developed in 1966, so that two years later, Omega could send 45 units to the Summer Olympics in Mexico. As , Omega has been the Games' official timing partner since 1932, and while Mexico City got 45 individually marked black-dialed Olympic stopwatches for 1968, the Swiss also sold a few to high profile athletes, including John Partridge, a member of the British Cycling Federation. Interestingly, the 1977 Porsche team's cherished chronograph is an even rarer, white-dialed variant.

As the Omega would prove, during qualifying, everything seemed fine with the 936/77 Spyder.

Driven by Jacky Ickx, Jürgen Barth and Hurley Haywood, that continued to be the case up until the 24th hour, when 45 minutes before the finish on Sunday, the single-turbo flat-six blew a cylinder. Smoking badly, Jürgen Barth had to pit.

Twelve minutes before the end, Barth fired up his now five-cylinder Porsche. They were still in the lead. The regulations said the car had to complete its pit lap and do a final one at speed without crossing the line before 4 p.m., as making that error would have started a new lap.

To make sure Jürgen Barth wouldn't hand over the victory to the Renault-powered Mirage GR8 by losing sight of the time, to fix the Omega on his steering wheel. Ten minutes later, the Porsche 936 secured its second Le Mans victory.


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