For a second year in a row, WCL joined the Rally Maya in its 5th edition this past weekend. This exceptionally orchestrated rally with a route that reaches the confines of the most remote roads through the Yucatán Peninsula kicked-off this year from Cozumel. Despite the bad weather in Cozumel during the first days of the rally and the day before our departure, the organizers were able to successfully load 110 classic cars —worth millions of dollars— plus a dozen support vehicles on a ferry that took off from Cozumel towards Punta Venado —near Playa del Carmen— from where we would be heading towards Tulum.
Riding with such high number of irreplaceable cars on a ferry was an incredible experience we will never forget. And just as if this wasn't exciting enough, it was a huge surprise to run into Mexico's former president Felipe Calderón Hinojosa who was one of the participants at the rally. On board a bright orange Karmann Ghia, Mexico's former president and his group of presidential guards accompanied us in this epic journey.
The Limited Edition Watches
To celebrate the 5th edition of the Rally Maya, Franck Muller Mexico released three 25-piece limited edition watches in the Vanguard collection that included two men's references in satin brushed titanium —one chronograph and one time/date model— and a ladies' time only watch in highly polished stainless steel. A percentage from the proceeds of the sale of these limited edition watches will be donated to the 'Asociación Mexicana de Diabetes del Sureste' —Mexican Diabetes Association of the South.
Equipped with gorgeous contrasting orange straps, all watches are individually numbered and feature a special engraving of the logo of the Rally Maya on its case back. The watch dial features Arabic numerals with the numeral five in orange to mark the 5th edition of the rally and the numeral eight in the shape of the snake from the logo of the rally. Rounded out by orange leather straps with perforations inspired by those on driving gloves, these new watches are really good looking.
Just like last year, geared up in our Vilebrequin trunks to fight the heat and with the new Franck Muller watches to help us keep proper track of the rally time, this year we were lucky to ride in one of the support vehicles instead of a classic car that would've been burning hot in the sweltering Yucatán weather.
Regardless of the temperatures exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit with very high relative humidity, this experience was worth every drop of sweat. Currently sanctioned by the FIA —Federation Internationale de l'Automobile—, this year's rally included more cars and a much nicer selection that included close to 20 air-cooled Porsches —including 911s, our favorite Targas, one 912 and a couple of 356s—, stunning Jaguars, a wide array of American made cars, at least a dozen classic Mercedes-Benz, Citroëns, VW Bettles, VW Karmann Ghias and Mini Coopers amongst others. Without a doubt, the car eye candy was on point.
About the Rally
Today, the Rally Maya is considered a major international classic car event with competitors coming from all over the world and in addition to the FIA, it is also sanctioned and recognized by the Mexican Federation of Classic and Collectible Cars —FMACC.
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 from the sale of the Franck Muller limited edition watches to treat Children's Type I Diabetes in the south of Mexico as well as donation of wheel chairs across rural and impoverished communities that are located along the route of the rally.
And perhaps one of the greatest things about the Rally Maya besides its cause, the fellowship the watches and the cars, is the ability to see places we never even imagined existed. Such is the case of the 'Rio Lagartos' Natural Reserve where we enjoyed sightings of flamingos in their natural habitat along the estuary where a river meets the sea tide. Simply once in a lifetime experience.
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 Yucatán Peninsula and the Mayan world. With 15 checkpoints including five overnight stopovers, this year's rally was driven through Cozumel, the archeological sites of Tulum and Chichén Itzá, Valladolid, Rio Lagartos, Playa del Carmén, Mérida and with its finish line in Cancún. A highlight and a must was visiting the ruins of Chichén Itzá as well as the Great Mayan Museum in Mérida.
Without hesitation, we can say that as usual a big highlight of our experience at the Rally Maya was the food. Yucatecan cuisine is the second most important cuisine in Mexico. As you guys know by now, the 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 Yucatán Peninsula includes a wide variety of Ceviches, Cocteles de Mariscos and of course pork, wild turkey and chicken recipes like Relleno Negro, Relleno Blanco, Queso Relleno, Marquesitas and Cochinita Pibil. Another pleasant surprise was running into a Peruvian restaurant off the beaten path in the city of Mérida —the capital of the state of Yucatán. This gem called 'Peruano' serves the best grilled octopus we've had in Mexico.
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 at the 'Hacienda San Juan Opichén' which happens to have its own private 'Cenote' named 'Dos Norias' as part of the most incredible grounds we've seen thus far when it comes to haciendas in Yucatán.
Followed by a prize ceremony where the most beautiful cars of the Rally Maya 2018 were awarded, the trophy inspired by watchmaking and automotive parts was made with recycled materials and presented to the three top cars in the competition. The first place at the Concours d'Elegance was presented to the iconic 1966 Jaguar E-Type owned by Franck Muller Mexico, the second place to a 1946 Ford Deluxe and the third place to a 1968 Morgan Plus Four.
Without a doubt, another great watch experience in our watchlife. When watches and the good life intertwine, Watch Collecting Lifestyle is there to bring you the best 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.