Rolex and the Bloodhound SSC: the world’s first 1,000 mph car

The Bloodhound SuperSonic Car (SSC) is a project to build the world’s first 1,000 mph car. The land speed challenge is slated to take place in 2016 at the Hakskeen Pan in South Africa.

Rolex Bloodhound, Bloodhound SSC, Bloodhound Supersonic Car

The Bloodhound SSC team aims to break the world’s land speed record with its pencil-shaped car that combines race-car engineering and aerospace technology. The Bloodhound SSC is powered by an EJ200 jet engine and Nammo hybrid propulsion rocket to achieve 1,000 miles per hour (1,609 km/h), as well as a Cosworth CA2010 Formula 1 V8 petrol engine auxiliary power unit.

Runway testing of up to 200 mph (320 km/h) is scheduled to take place in early 2016. The Bloodhound SSC will then be tested in the dry lake bed of the Hakskeen Pan in the Mier area of the Northern Cape, South Africa on a track 12 miles (19 km) long and 2 miles (3.2 km) wide.

Rolex became one of the first partners of the Bloodhound SSC project in 2011, driven by a common vision to push the limits of technology and human endeavour and to stimulate the interest of younger generations in science and achievement.

Bloodhound SSC driver Andy Green says, “The Bloodhound Project is primarily about bringing science and technology to life for a new generation. We are actually trying to create an engineering adventure to push back the boundaries of physics, to push back the limits of technology and share it with a global audience. The way we are doing it is to build this, the world’s first 1,000 mph car, take it to South Africa and run it for the next two years.”

Andy Green is the current holder of the World Land Speed Record and the first and only person to drive at supersonic speed. With an honours degree in mathematics from Oxford and years of experience as a jet pilot, he is the ideal driver for Bloodhound SSC.

Rolex Bloodhound, Bloodhound SSC, Rolex speedometer, Rolex GPS speedometer, Rolex GPS chronograph, Bloodhound Supersonic Car
Rolex Bloodhound SSC Cockpit Instruments: speedometer and chronograph

To qualify for the record, the Bloodhound SSC needs to be driven and controlled by the driver, without any autopilot. This critical process requires extremely precise cockpit instruments.

As well as displays monitoring electrics, hydraulics, engines start and control systems, the bespoke Rolex speedometer and Rolex chronograph will provide Andy Green with all the information he needs for the land speed challenge. These analogue, high precision and highly reliable Rolex instruments will not only give him a visual reference of the speed, both in terms of acceleration and most importantly braking, but will also help with the precise turnaround of the car in less than 60 minutes to comply with the World Land Speed Record rules.

Rolex Bloodhound, Bloodhound SSC, Rolex speedometer, Rolex GPS speedometer, Rolex GPS chronograph
Rolex Bloodhound SSC Cockpit Instruments

Rolex Bloodhound, Bloodhound SSC, Rolex speedometer, Rolex GPS speedometer, Rolex GPS chronograph, Bloodhound Supersonic Car
Andy Green and the Bloodhound SSC Team

Rolex Bloodhound, Bloodhound SSC, Rolex speedometer, Rolex GPS speedometer, Rolex GPS chronograph
The Bloodhound SSC, the world’s first 1,000 mph car

Andy Green specifically chose Rolex to develop the Bloodhound SSC cockpit instruments because the manufacturer could deliver bulletproof reliability and accuracy for both the time and speed instruments. Both instruments are vital because the air brakes, the parachutes, the wheel brakes and the stability of the car are all speed-dependent.

After two years of research and development, Rolex produced the most sophisticated high-speed car speedometer in the world, as well as a high-precision chronograph. Both are completely independent, they have their own power supply and their own independent sensors.

Andy Green specified analogue displays because they are simply easier to read. According to Andy Green, “It’s a fact. I can look at a watch that quickly. When I put it down, my brain is processing the picture of where those hands were and I know it’s ten past four. If that was a digital display, I wouldn’t have time to read all those numbers or know what the time is. We are naturally analogue creatures. Digital displays can pack a lot of information in, but in a less user-friendly form. There is a reason why digital watches went through a phase in the 1970s, when everybody thought it looked re- ally cool and realized it was a silly idea and stopped using them. Clocks still have hands, and there’s a reason. It’s the way the brain works.”

Rolex Bloodhound, Bloodhound SSC, Rolex speedometer, Rolex GPS speedometer, Rolex GPS chronograph
Rolex Bloodhound SSC Speedometer

The Rolex speedometer has an aviation style white speed hand and a green memory hand that records the maximum speed reached. The white on black dial of the speedometer is graduated from 0 to 11 in 100 mph increments, with a special marking to indicate Mach 1, the speed of sound (approximately 1,225 km/h, 761 mph at sea level).

The independent GPS link feeds the speedometer directly with 20 positional measurements per second (20 Hz), ensuring a highly accurate reading even at top speed. If there is a power failure on Bloodhound SSC, the speedometer’s battery has enough power for 30 minutes, substantial enough to allow Green to bring the car through its critical braking procedure to a safe halt from top speed.

Rolex Bloodhound, Bloodhound SSC, Rolex speedometer, Rolex GPS speedometer, Rolex GPS chronograph
Rolex Bloodhound SSC Chronograph

The Rolex chronograph combines a clock and a stopwatch, to fit the true definition of a chronograph, which measures minutes and seconds. The seconds hand also displays near seamless movement by ticking in increments of one-eighth of a second. The 60 minute graduation is tailored to the maximum duration of Bloodhound SSC’s turnaround. With four electronic motors in all, each hand on the stopwatch and clock has its own dedicated motor to maximize reliability. The time signal provided by the GPS receiver allows the chronograph and its clock to achieve supreme accuracy through a compact satellite antenna.

Visually, the Rolex speedometer and chronograph instruments combine the technical attributes of aeronautical-standard legibility and backlit markings with the soul of a Rolex watch. Signature design cues such as a stainless steel bezel and the logo with the green script and gold crown on the dial immediately identify them as Rolex precision instruments.

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