Autodromo Watches

Autodromo Watches

Autodromo Watches   watch releases

If you fancy yourself as much a Gearhead as a Watchnerd, you may already be aware of Autodromo. They are a recently formed watch brand which seeks to combine modern and affordable watch making practices with an aesthetic taken directly from classic motoring and ready to be paired with your Italian driving slippers and finest driving gloves for that perfect top-down experience. This isn't a unique concept, but it is worth mentioning again in this brand's case. Autodromo makes a number of quartz-powered watches that have been designed to be reminiscent of the gauges seen in vintage race and sports cars of the 1960's and 70's. Autodromo says they make "Instruments for Motoring" and it seems that they have the product styling to back up that claim and to catch the interest of any ardent car fan or motorsport maven. They certainly aren't the only ones to do so, but they might be one of the best options for those on a budget.

Autodromo Watches   watch releases

Autodromo Watches   watch releases

Autodromo Watches   watch releases

This is not exactly a new formula as many famous watches have been styled to align with the conventions of motorsports. A sizable portion of Heuer's line-up in the 60's and 70's was based on close ties with automotive design. Think of classics like the Autavia, Monaco, and Silverstone which were worn on the outside of flame resistant track suits, the perfect track-day companion. This is an entire genre of watches that sought to highlight the style, drama and tone of auto racing and today we see modern interpretations coming from Tissot, Tag Heuer and even smaller brands like BRM. Autodromo is in good company but their watches would be hard to classify as "modern interpretations" of anything. Instead, vintage styling is the name of their game and Autodromo's watches feature lugless cases, tropic-style leather straps, and dial designs which closely mimic the designs of vintage gauges. Autodromo's website even features a gallery of photography illustrating their watches being used in conjunction with a number of examples of vintage automobilia. Lovely stuff, and their watches definitely look the part among the backdrop of a vintage Alfa Romeo.

Autodromo Watches   watch releases

Taking a closer look at the Vallelunga range we see options for both a chronograph and a three-hander, either of which can be had in stainless steel with a white dial or a black dial with a matching black PVD case. Measuring 42mm wide x 10mm thick, the case design is very much reminiscent of Xetum but the dial design looks like a small gauge or the combination of a racing stopwatch and a traditional watch. The Vallelunga chronograph features a 30 minute register, a seconds register and shares a grande date feature with the three hand version. The dial makes excellent use of negative space and the subdials are also very similar to automotive gauges. The dial is protected by a crystal made of K1 mineral glass with a sapphire coating and the entire watch is water resistant to 30 meters, so be sure to take it off before driving your car into any ponds, lakes, or rivers, Keith Moon style.

I really enjoy the case shape (see above photos) which is clean and minimalistic but not in a way which detracts from the shape of the case itself. While I like the styling seen in the Vallelunga range, I cannot help but find the design of the handset to be flawed. My criticism is that the hour hand is the same color as the dial and, judging from the images on Autodromo's website, the hour hand literally disappears in some photos except for the small contrasting marker at its tip. Originally, I thought I was looking at a stopwatch or regulator-style watch which featured only a single long hour hand. It's unfortunate as I really like the other dial details like the big date display, the exposed screw heads which flank the center of the dial and the almost Mondaine-like simplicity of their designs.

Autodromo Watches   watch releases

Of all of the Autodromo models, I prefer Veloce as it has bright white hands and, apart from some subtle shading, the minute track runs along the entire edge of the dial, which is not the case with their other models. The Veloce, despite its lack of a second hand, seems like the most viable option as a daily wearer as the design offers an easy to read display, date, and even a splash of color on the dial which mimics the red line of a tachometer. The lugless case design is carried over from Autodromo's other models, as is the 20mm tropic-style leather strap which looks really nice when combined with the automotive motif. The Veloce is also quartz powered and its 42 x 10mm case can be had in a stainless or a black PVD finish for $425 USD.

Autodromo Watches   watch releases

Autodromo's entire range comes in under $600 USD and for that money you get interesting and distinctive timepieces that are quite successful in porting classic automotive instrument design into nicely sized and attractive watches. My only reservation is the poor legibility of the hour hands which are the same color as the dial. Ultimately, this will not be a deal breaker for many buyers and the Autodromo offers about as much style and charm as one can find at this price point. It's not hard to see the appeal of these watches. To those that love cars and automotive design, Autodromo offers a chance to keep a piece of that styling with you throughout the day, while your car must wait out on the street or in the garage. A fun watch, but perhaps not for daily wear.

Written by James Stacey

14 comments
SuperStrapper
SuperStrapper

I like, and while I noticed the addition of too many minute marjkers, I don't mind because it keeps the theme intact, and I'm not stupid enough to have it throw me from being able to tell the time. I am, however, a little taken aback by the case-to-strap ratio. 20mm on this case just looks too thin, like an orange on the end of a pencil. Especially considering it appears they taper further to the buckle, most likely 20/18; I hate it when a watch feels too big for the strap that holds it to you.

NoleenELT
NoleenELT

I get the blending in hour hand. It's supposed to look like a speedometer, which only has one hand. Generally if you are driving, you have an idea what the hour is, you just want to quickly glance at your watch to see the minutes.

Ulysses31
Ulysses31

Modern and stylish.  Nice lugless design similar to a Mido Commander.  Sweet dials too - apart from the chunk of indices that are missing :|.  They could be a little larger but all in all I wouldn't mind having one of these.

Ulysses31
Ulysses31

Modern and stylish.  Nice lugless design similar to a Mido Commander.  Sweet dials too.  They could be a little larger but all in all I wouldn't mind having one of these.

mushroomphysics
mushroomphysics

Interesting look. I would have liked to see an automatic version. I don't particularly like quartz watches.

CG
CG

Nice! Good critical overview... Based on that, I will buy. One of each just for fun. Now if only some manufacturer would do a series of watches honoring drag racing; like a 60's Mag wheel dial.

Ulysses31
Ulysses31

 @Kris C That's pretty rich; implying other people are stupid.  As I said, it's readable but it's not "at a glance" readable like you'd expect even from a $1 watch.  I don't think it would harm the "theme" of the watch to do it the proper way.  It's a taint on an otherwise handsome watch that wasn't necessary at all.

nateb123
nateb123

 @CG Critical is not what I'd call it.  Certainly not critical enough to realize the scale is wrong on every single one of their watches.  Lazy and uninspired.  A first year design student would get an F for this.

SuperStrapper
SuperStrapper

 @Ulysses31 I didn't imply anything, you just assume as much. "I'm not stupid enough..." is a common idiom of mine (as unfortuante as that may be, but we all have them) - if I were pointing at it, I would have 'as stupid as previous posters...'. Also, if I wanted to directly comment on your post, I would have replied to it, like I'm doing here.

 

You seem sensative about how others may perceive your level of intelligence. Stop worrying about what strangers on the internet think, and if you're not that smart, read something.

CG
CG

 @nateb123  @CG HA! I'm sure many design students around the world are very glad you are not their teacher, big sigh of relief on that one! 

Ulysses31
Ulysses31

 @Kris C You're a piece of work.  I don't doubt my own intelligence as much as you appear to overestimate your own - thinking that you can get away with back-handed remarks with nobody calling you out on it   Seriously, I don't care whether or not you find inconvenient counter-intuitive designs up your alley - a fool and his money are soon parted, as they say.  Let's say I took your car, swapped the steering to the opposite side and changed your speedometer so that it only showed a scale you weren't used to (imperial, metric, whichever isn't standard for your country).  Now, i'm sure you're "smart enough" to get used to driving from the opposite side and of performing the conversion calculations in your head to realise how fast you were going, but should you really have to? 

 

I'd recommend you read some books too, but I doubt any of them come in large enough print.

Ulysses31
Ulysses31

 @CG  @nateb123 I think he was referring to the fact that there are one hundred and twenty minute markers on every dial, unlike the more widely accepted sixty.  I didn't spot this myself at first because like most people I assume that nobody would ever get something like that wrong.  It becomes a kind of blindness - every dial is supposed to have twelve hours and sixty minutes - but not this one.  You can still read the time on this watch but it's needlessly confusing.