Experience: The 2019 Rally Maya with Franck Muller. Latin America's Second Most Important Rally.

For a third year in a row, WCL joined the Rally Maya in its 6th edition this past weekend and this week. 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 the archeological site of Uxmal to finish off in Tulum, one of the world’s most revered archeological sites. Despite the sweltering temperatures throughout the route that passed through Mérida, Izamal, Peto, Valladolid, the K’aak Cenote and Puerto Morelos, 110 classic cars were driven by their pilots and copilots —mostly classic Mercedes-Benz, Porsches, Jaguars, Alfa Romeos, Austin Healy, an Audi that belonged to former Mexican President Adolfo López Mateos and several Mini Coopers— in what is today the second most important rally race in Latin America after the Carrera Panamericana.

And just like last year, we were graced by the presence of Mexico's former president Felipe Calderón Hinojosa who was one of the participants at the rally, riding along his brother in a gorgeous red Porsche 911 from 1966. During our brief stop in Mérida —also known as the ‘White City’ due to being white the most common color worn by its inhabitants—, we were warmly welcomed by the decadent traditional dishes that are part of the Yucatan Peninsula’s gastronomy. Not to mention that there was a special classic car exhibit that included a VW Brasilia at the ultra modern and very upscale Paseo 60 shopping center.

The Limited Edition Watches

To celebrate the 6th edition of the Rally Maya, Franck Muller Mexico released four limited edition watches —three 25-piece limited edition watches and a 5-piece tourbillon— within the Vanguard Racing collection. The new watches are by far our favorite of all watches released by Franck Muller Mexico to celebrate the Rally Maya. With a very racing and automotive inspired design, a chronograph, a time/date model, a tourbillon and a ladies' time only watch made their appearance cloaked in a highly polished stainless steel case and with a black and a green perforated racing strap. A percentage from the proceeds of the sale of these limited edition watches will be donated to a special foundation in the southeast region of Mexico that supports children with Down Syndrome.

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 eight in the shape of the snake from the logo of the Rally Maya, green and red accents honoring the Mexican flag and a red flange with hour numbers written in Mayan. Rounded out by rubberized calf leather straps in black and green with red contrast stitching, the straps feature the traditional perforations found on driving gloves in order to make them look even more automotive.

The Cars

Just like in previous years, 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 105 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 a way much nicer selection that included close to 35 air-cooled Porsches —including 911s, our favorite Targas, one 912 and several 356s. Additionally, stunning Jaguars, a wide array of American made cars, close to two dozen classic Mercedes-Benz cars, VW Bettles, VW Karmann Ghias, Mini Coopers, a vintage Audi, a vintage Volvo, a Morgan, a Triumph, a BMW 2002, three Alfa Romeos and an Austin Healy were undoubtedly the perfect cars during this year’s rally. And of course one of the best looking cars during the rally was Franck Muller Mexico’s 1966 silver Jaguar E-Type this year dressed with stripes in the colors of the Mexican flag and crazy hour numbers in the same color combination.

About the Rally

Today, the Rally Maya is considered a major international classic car event with competitors coming from all over the world and Latin America’s second most important race after the Carrera Panamericana. Sanctioned by the FIA and the Mexican Federation of Classic and Collectible Cars —FMACC—, the rally keeps getting better and better each year with the Porsche Club of Mexico and the Mercedes-Benz Club of Mexico actively involved. This year’s support vehicles were provided by Porsche Mexico and included several Macans as well as two brand new 992s.

For us, lovers of classic cars and luxury timepieces, 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 and the camaraderie amongst participants. 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 a non-profit supporting children with Down syndrome and donation of wheel chairs across rural and impoverished communities that are located along the route of the rally.

And something else we love about the rally —besides the fellowship created by the watches and the cars— is the ability to see places we never even imagined existed even after traveling thoroughly through Mexico.

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 Uxmal, Mérida, Izamal, Valladolid, Peto, Puerto Morelos, Tulum and with its finish line in Cancún.

The Food

Without hesitation, we can say that as usual a big highlight of our experience at the Rally Maya was the food as gastronomy throughout the Yucatán Peninsula is the second most important in Mexico. Designated by the UNESCO as cultural treasures back in 2010, the Mexican cuisine along with the French cuisine are up to par and food throughout the rally is always to die for.

Strongly focused on seafood, pork and wild turkey, the cuisine from the Yucatán Peninsula includes a wide variety of Ceviches, Cocteles de Mariscos, Relleno Negro, Relleno Blanco, Queso Relleno, Marquesitas and Cochinita Pibil. Not to mention that Mérida is now also home to an incredible seafood restaurant —originally founded in Puerto Progreso— by the name Crabster Seafood Grill, that anyone in search of great food should visit while in Mérida or Puerto Progreso.

Besides the great food, thirst is often quenched by a copious supply of Cuba’s finest Havana Club Añejo Especial, tequila Herradura and Veuve Clicquot Rich over ice. And for those wanting to enjoy a fine cigar, a steady supply of Cuban cigars is always readily available through the participants.

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 beachside dinner at the Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa in Puerto Morelos. During this decadent dinner that kicked-off with a cocktail the elegance prizes were presented. A raw seafood bar delighted our palates as we sipped a few Negronis in preparation for dinner.

Followed by a prize ceremony where the most beautiful cars of the Rally Maya 2019 were awarded, the trophy inspired by watchmaking and automotive parts is made with recycled materials and presented to the three top cars in the competition. The first place at the Franck Muller Concours d'Elegance was presented to an iconic blue and cream 1958 Austin Healy 100M Roadster, the second place to a mint green 1936 Convertible Auburn and the third place to a grey 1964 Porsche 356.

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.

For more info on Franck Muller click here and for Rally Maya here.