August 16, 2014
by David Bredan
Since we first covered Autodromo in 2012, the brand has remained true to its name and kept on expanding its range of retro-styled watches inspired by classical automotive design. With their latest line of watches, called the Autodromo Stradale, they continue this tradition by lifting some key aesthetic elements of dashboard instruments from Italian sports cars of the late 1950s and incorporating them in the design of the Autodromo Stradale.
Blending automotive and watch design is not a new thing by any stretch of the imagination, and while we have seen a large number of high-end as well as more affordably priced brands have a go at it, few could pull it off in a memorable way. Basically, where Autodromo stands out is that all their watches are inspired by motoring, with the Autodromo Stradale set to “evoke the age of Gran Turismo, when driving across the continent involved more than hopping on an expressway.” Sounds nice and swell, but let’s see how that translates into horology.
The primary reason why it is difficult to get this dashboard-inspired watch design just right is to be found in the fundamentally different purposes of these two seemingly similar items. Specifically, speedometers and tachometers (or rev-counters) are designed to work in a way that we could best describe as “retrograde,” meaning that the hands need not turn all the way around, while watch hands generally go around every 12 hours. Sounds like a banal and obvious difference, but we have seen this basic challenge cause a lot of trouble for watch designers in the past.
Where the Autodromo Stradale appears to stand out at first glance is its rather clever and clean dial that resembles the dashboards of vintage cars perfectly, and accomplishes that without “trying too hard” or sacrificing legibility. Beneath its domed sapphire crystal is another glass ring situated on the periphery of the dial and carrying the hour indices. This glass ring has been raised above the pane of the dial and therefore lends the face of the watch a more 3-dimensional appearance.
The perfectly round shape of the case, the sword-like red and grey hands, as well as the font used for the indices all resemble the typical dashboard designs that are found in some of the iconic Italian GT-cars of the 50s and 60s – just think of the Ferrari 250 GT, Aston Martin DB5, or the Lamborghini 350GT for example. With that said, the Autodromo Stradale is first and foremost a watch and does not mix things up as much as the brand’s Monoposto model did a few years ago.
The stainless steel case is 40 millimeters wide, is water resistant to 50 meters, and features more unusual – and perhaps historically more accurate – wire lugs that are just 18 millimeters wide. Visible through the sapphire window at the back of the case is a Japanese Miyota 9015 automatic movement with hand-winding, hacking and date functions. The 9015 is generally regarded as the higher-end alternative among Miyota movements, with its inferior counterparts doing away with the hacking function and offering less timekeeping accuracy.
The Autodromo Stradale will be available in three different configurations comprising a version with a cream dial and brown strap, a black dial and burgundy strap, and a grey dial with blue strap. And for those who think this release is not “vintage” enough, all watches will come with a vintage-inspired map (yes, that), evoking the idea of a road trip in Northern Italy circa 1960. Any one of the three versions of the Autodromo Stradale are available for pre-order at the brand’s website and are said to make it to retailers soon, with a price tag of $875. autodromo.com