Juan-Manuel Fangio. Affectionately known as "bandy legs" by his many fans, was born in Balcarce, Argentina in 1911. After military service he opened his own garage and competed in local events. These "local" events were not the weekend meetings that occur all over Europe but long-distance races held mostly on dirt roads up and down South America. At eighteen Fangio started his racing career in a Ford taxi. Following many successes driving all makes of modified American stock cars Fangio was sponsored by J.D. Perron and sent to Europe to continue his career. It was not until the age of 37 that he achieved consistent success on the European circuit. In 1950 he was given a drive with Alfa Romeo, battling with his teammate Nino Farina he ended the season in second place. The next year Fangio won the first of his five titles. 1952 saw him suffer his first major accident at Monza. Starting from the back of the grid he made a rare mistake, he lost control of his Maserati which went into a slide, hit a dirt bank and somersaulted in the air. Fangio was thrown clear and spent the next few days fighting for his life. The following year he returned to the wheel for Maserati and finished the season in second place. Fangio always made it his policy to gain the loyalty of his mechanics team. He told them that they would receive ten percent of his winnings. During practice for the Italian Grand Prix he complained of a severe vibration but the next day the problem had completely disappeared. It later became clear that the mechanics had switched cars in the middle of the night and given Fangio's vibrating car to his teammate Bonetto.
In 1954 he moved to the Mercedes team and won his second World Championship. Fangio won eight of the twelve Grands Prix he drove in for Mercedes. This was the begining of a string of four straight titles. In 1957 Fangio won one of his most famous races at the German Grand Prix. Fangio both loved and was in awe of the Nurenburg circuit but driving an under powered Maserati he amazed his rivals to come from behind and pass the two leading Ferraris, passing Mike Hawthorn by "straight lining" one of the final curves. In 1958, at the French Grand Prix his Maserati was not competitive and he was about to be lapped by the race leader Mike Hawthorn. As a mark of respect for the great man known as "the maestro" by his peers Hawthorn braked and allowed Fangio to cross the line ahead of him. Getting out of the car after the race Fangio said to his mechanic simply, "It is finished."
ENSCRIBED, M: J. MANUEL FANGIO DE J.D.P, 1953.
A DRIVERS STEEL AND GILT CURVED WRISTWATCH, PRESENTED TO JUAN MANUEL FANGIO
Enscribed, M: J. Manuel Fangio de J.D.P, 1953.
Nickel finished 15-jewel movement, silvered dial with Arabic hours, outer minute track and blued steel hands, curved case with chased bezel and lugs, snap on back.
34mm x 27mm.