A week ago, we had the pleasure of joining Franck Muller Mexico at the 4th edition of the 2017 Rally Maya they were sponsoring. The 4th edition of this classic car rally created by Benjamin de la Peña Mora —a renowned Notary and classic car collector from Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico— took place from May 19th through May 28th, 2017 with a route that extended over 1,200 kilometers across the Yucatan Peninsula.
To celebrate this 4th edition of the Rally Maya, Franck Muller released two 25-piece limited edition watches in the Vanguard V45 family, one in 18K rose gold and the other in stainless steel. Both watches bear a special engraving of the Rally Maya logo on its case back, a special dial featuring the eight numeral in the shape of a snake —a visual element from the logo of the Rally Maya— with central minute counter inspired by the speedometers of vintage classic cars —which is an element from the logo of the Rally Maya— and rubberized leather straps that take their inspiration from the upholstery pattern on some vintage cars. These great looking limited edition pieces were fellow companions during our journey through the Yucatan Peninsula.
Geared up in our Vilebrequin trunks and with a handful of Franck Muller watches to choose from to adorn our wrists, we embarked on this exciting experience aboard a chocolate brown 1970 Mercedes Benz 280 SE. With no AC and temperatures exceeding the 100 degrees Fahrenheit, this is a watchlife experience we will never forget thanks to the impressive cars —at the level of any car showcased at the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este or the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance—, the Franck Muller timepieces, the amazing food, the scenery, but foremost, the warm and cheerfulness of the Mexican people in those small towns and forgotten paradises of the Mexican Southeast are what really took our breath away.
Today, the Rally Maya is considered a major international classic car event with competitors coming from all over the world and is sanctioned and recognized by the Mexican Federation of Classic and Collectible Cars —FMACC—, the National Vintage Commission, the Mercedes-Benz Club of Mexico, the International Federation of Historic Vehicles —FIVA—, the Southeast Car Museum and the Pan-American Race Image Museum.
For us, lovers of classic cars and luxury wristwatches, the Rally Maya has just became a must, just like attending the Mille Miglia, the Tour Auto or the Carrera Panamericana. While the cars and the watches took the center stage during our coverage of the Rally Maya, the greatest thing about this event is the goodwill cause behind it. The Rally Maya not only brings together a very friendly group of car collectors and watch enthusiasts but it also provides financial contributions for the medical treatment of Children's Type I Diabetes in Mexico as well as donation of wheel chairs across rural and impoverished communities that are located along the route of the rally.
The Rally Route
This rally known as a Speed, Time, Distance, or Regularity event, focuses on maintaining an average speed over a set distance and route. With a route extending over 1,200 kilometers —close to 750 miles—, the race is divided in five different segments crossing over 50 rural communities as well as major cities throughout the Yucatan Peninsula and the Mayan world. With 15 checkpoints including five overnight stopovers, the rally is driven through places like Ciudad del Carmen, Champotón, Campeche, Calkiní, Isla Arena, the archeological site of Uxmal, Ticul, Tekit, the Santa Barbara Cenotes —Cascabel and Tza-Ujun-Kat—, Merida, Temax, Uayma, Valladolid, the archeological site of Cobá and Playa del Carmen, to culminate with its finish line at the luxurious Mayakoba Resort in Riviera Maya.
The 2017 Rally Maya featured close to 100 classic cars that are at least 40 years old. With a little bit of everything in terms of brands and models, the cars are grouped into four main categories divided by year ranges as follows: 1915-1931, 1932-1948, 1949-1960 and 1961-1975. Some of our favorite cars this year, included Franck Muller's Jaguar E-Type, two Porsche 356s, a gorgeous Porsche 911SC, a blue and silver Rolls Royce Corniche, a 1952 Dodge Coronet, a couple of Mercedes Benz 280 SL Pagodas, a Jaguar XJ6C, a 1955 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud, a 1967 blue Renault Alpine A110 1300G, an Austin Healey Sprite and of course the Franck Muller Mercedes Benz 280 SE in which we rode during the Rally, amongst others.
Just as expected, the food was simply out of this world. While Oaxacan cuisine is the number one cuisine pertaining to Mexican cuisine, the food from the Yucatan Peninsula is the second most important cuisine in Mexico. Mexican cuisine along with the French cuisine were designated by the UNESCO cultural treasures back in 2010. Strongly focused on seafood, the cuisine from the Yucatan Peninsula includes a wide variety of Ceviches, Cocteles de Mariscos and of course Cochinita Pibil. And just to top off our gastronomic experience in Mexico, we had the pleasure of meeting and sharing several meals with Chef François Avernin —piloting his red Mercedes Benz 280 SL 'Pagoda'—, the man behind the legendary restaurant Champs-Élysées —the best French restaurant in Mexico City since 1965— and the newly opened Maison de Famille also in Mexico City.
The Franck Muller Concours d'Elegance
Since there's no true classic car rally without a Concours d'Elegance, Franck Muller hosted a very special dinner followed by a prize ceremony at La Quinta Montes Molina in the city of Merida, Yucatan to award the most beautiful cars during the Rally Maya. The trophy inspired by watchmaking and automotive parts was made with recycled materials and presented to the three top cars in the competition. While we wish the mint green Porsche 956 Cabrio had taken the first prize, we were delighted to see that at least it received the second prize. First place at the Franck Muller Concours d'Elegance was a 1969 Cadillac DeVille, second place a 1959 Porsche 356 Cabrio and third place a Ford Model A from 1930.
Without a doubt this was another great watch experience in our watchlife. When watches and the good life intertwine, Watch Collecting Lifestyle is there to bring you the best digital watch content and make you feel like you came along. Thank you Franck Muller and Rally Maya for letting us be part of this amazing experience. Until next year's rally.