Advertising Classic: What’s the Story Here?

The ad is current, but the car is a legitimate CC in an unusual setting, so I thought I’d share this here. Apologies for the “noise” in the photo; it’s a snapshot of a magazine rear cover that got damaged sitting on my kitchen counter before I noticed the ad.

I don’t usually look at the ads on the back cover of The New Yorker magazine; usually for designer clothing or watches that are far outside my scope of interest. But this one caught my eye because of the car. Obviously domestic, I’m pretty sure it’s GM, the steering wheel and hood tachometer suggest Pontiac, probably a late pre-Colonnade LeMans or GTO. I originally thought of posting this as a CC Clue, to confirm from CC experts that it’s indeed a Pontiac, and what year and model. Regardless of those details, it seemed odd that a luxury Swiss watch manufacturer would use a photo of a fifty year old American car, so to learn if there was any connection between Audemars Piguet, the watch company founded in 1875, and Pontiac, I poked around a bit on the internet, also hoping to find a cleaner digital image of the ad.

No luck on the ad, but I noticed that one of the company’s major watch lines is the Royal Oak Collection.

Wait … Royal Oak, Pontiac??!! I knew about Royal Pontiac, the dealership in Royal Oak, Michigan, and their drag racing Pontiacs, and high performance kits, from childhood, even though I grew up on the West Coast. Those were the days when even nationally famous stock-bodied drag racers were often sponsored by dealerships. I still remember the Tasca Ford (Rhode Island, I think) cars as well

Could this be a coincidence? Or an inside joke? I found quite a bit about the history of these Royal Oak watches, first designed by a famous Swiss watch designer in the 1970’s, but could find no connection with Pontiac or GM. And what’s the deal with the big empty gauge location on the dash? Is that where the clock would be, and it was retouched out to avoid competition with the watch? Although there is just an AM radio, the hood tach and the fact it’s a convertible (with AC) suggest it’s not a poverty spec car.