The 1960s were a bonanza period for sports watch design, as manufacturers across the industry scrambled to introduce wild new colors and distinctive new forms to highlight technical advancements and attract a new generation of buyers. One of the most evocative new niches to emerge from this time was the racing chronograph, capturing the roaring spectacle of motorsport that was reaching new heights of global commercial success at the same time. Delma has attempted to revive some of this spirit with its latest release, the new Continental chronograph series inspired by the ‘60s Delma Bicompax. Available in both automatic and quartz models with an array of color options, the Delma Continental line offers a surprisingly restrained and elemental take on a niche that often trends more maximalist.
When it came to case design for racing chronographs in the ‘60s, there were two major schools of thought. Many brands (generally those with higher R&D or manufacturing budgets) accented the bold, sporty feel of these watches with equally dynamic and avant-garde case designs, leading to models like the original Heuer Monaco, Omega Speedmaster Mark II, or the “Cevert” Seiko 6139. The other philosophy pushed for standardized, simple case architecture. This allowed the vibrant dial designs to take center stage, while keeping a versatile case shape that could be easily repurposed for other models in the brand lineup. The Delma Continental falls into this second category, with a clean and simple 42mm form in stainless steel with optional two tone gold PVD. The bezel is mirror polished and narrow, accentuated by long thin lugs with a gradual taper. This case offers a sporting 100 meters of water resistance for both quartz and automatic variants, with the automatic model beefed up slightly to accommodate the movement and transparent display caseback.
Like the cases, the dials of the Delma Continental series opt for a simple overall form, accentuated with a range of vibrant colors. The base dial design emphasizes refinement of simple elements, from a set of nicely faceted pointed baton hands, to wide faceted rectangular indices, along with an elegantly narrow tachymeter chapter ring. It’s in the colors that the Continental runs more freely, with seven total sunburst dial variants including a silver dial “panda” model with black subdials, a black sunburst dial “reverse panda,” a royal blue dial with silver subdials, forest green with silver subdials, and exclusively for two tone models an eye-catching tropical brown with silver subdials. Two tone variants also receive unique versions of the silver and blue dials with gold tone hands and indices. This design’s transition to quartz models is rather ungainly, with both large subdials moved off the dial’s horizontal center line and migrated towards 12 o’clock. Of course, this is a concession to the layout of the quartz powerplant, but the execution leaves the otherwise clean vintage inspired design feeling significantly unbalanced.
Delma offers the Continental with the option of either an automatic or quartz movement. Automatic models are equipped with the Sellita SW510 BH automatic chronograph movement, offering a 28,800 bph beat rate and 48 hours of power reserve. Quartz models, on the other hand, are paired with the durable and cost effective Ronda Z50 movement.
All variants of the Delma Continental are paired with a vintage inspired multi link bracelet in either stainless steel or two tone. Slightly more angular in execution than a beads of rice style or the classic jubilee pattern, this bracelet strikes a solid chord between casual usability and flash.
Delma has been quite aggressive through 2020 in expanding its line, and the Continental series represents a solid step outside of the brand’s core product focus. The Delma Continental is available now through authorized dealers, with MSRP on quartz models starting at 750 CHF while automatic model pricing begins at 2,600 CHF. For more information, visit the brand’s website.