The sad news about this Grape Soda Chronograph watch is that you can no longer buy one, as the entire four-piece run of this limited edition quickly sold out. That said, Los Angeles-based Welsbro watches is hard at work coming out with more such watches, and I felt it was a good idea to take a quick look at this watch, which is probably easy to misunderstand at a glance. What I think is very special about this watch is that, as a collector’s item, it combines both archetypal American and Japanese sentiments toward timepiece collecting. Indeed, the Grape Soda timepiece itself is a combination of American and Japanese efforts, including a restored vintage Swiss Made manually wound Valjoux mechanical chronograph movement.

The easiest thing to appreciate about the Welsbro Grape Soda Chronograph is its colorful purple hues and vintage styling. There is, of course, the packaging as well, which included special graphic design as well as a fancy Japanese kitchen knife (if only to help support the “culinary” theme of the brand). Welsbro is a historic watch company that is currently owned and operated by Rich Reichbach and Katie Willis. Their first salvo of re-launching the brand used the concept of creating new watches using older parts, whether movements or cases. This helped the brand more or less sell out of all of its initial timepieces, and the company is currently working on its next batch of products, which builds on its earned success. What Welsbro did right is mix value-focused, hip vintage designs and beautiful modern aesthetics and themes in a brand that feels much more approachable than much of the stuffy competition. I think part of that comes from the fact that Reichbach himself is a watchmaker who has been dealing with vintage timepieces for years. Rather than try to create an artificial sense of prestige for the brand and its products (as many other companies do), Welsbro doesn’t take itself too seriously, and he connects to art and pop culture much more so than most in the world of “traditional horology.”

Advertising Message

The Grape Soda Chronograph watch begins with a 1960s-era Swiss Made Valjoux 92 manually wound column-wheel-based chronograph movement. Welsbro actually offered the watch with a 30 or 45-minute chronograph counter, as it appears that the movement could be oriented either way. The pictured watch has the 30-minute chronograph subdial option.  The movement still looks very attractive by today’s standards and is related to the famed Valjoux 72 chronograph movements that were used in timepieces such as the Rolex “Paul Newman” Daytona. The Grape Soda case was designed for the movement and each of the cases for the highly limited Grade Soda Chronograph watches was made by hand in Japan. That’s right, these are not industrially created cases but rather cases that were individually crafted by hand — frankly, the most affordable option when it comes to a production run this small. For this reason, the Grape Soda Chronograph watch was considerably more expensive than the other modern Welsbro timepieces that have been released thus far, but it is still a good value when you consider the cost of production and how limited these were.

The steel case is 38mm wide and 12mm thick. I normally don’t like wearing watches as small as 38mm, but when combined with a thicker case like this, it doesn’t feel as small on the wrist. The lug-to-lug distance is 46mm, and the case is not rated as having water resistance. I don’t think that means you can’t get it wet, but I am not sure if the case has formally undergone any pressure testing on account of how few were made. The case uses 18mm wide straps and is paired with an excellent “eggplant” colored “pebbled” leather strap, which is excellent, not only in the fit and finish of the strap but also in how attractive (and masculine) the purple color is. In April 2023, aBlogtoWatch published my article on the timepiece colors that will be popular in the years to come. I mentioned purple tones in there as what I believe could be an emerging area of men’s watch colors that hasn’t been much explored. I think that the Welsbro Grape Soda Chronograph is an ideal exemplar if you want to prove the point that men’s purple watches have merit in the years to come.

The Welsbro Grape Soda Chronograph dial is wonderful to look at and evokes the look of classic sport chronograph watches. Using an intelligent palette of purple and gray colors, the dial is friendly on the eyes and also offers clear legibility to read the time, as well as tachymeter and telemeter scales (if you so choose). Note that the Welsbro website does an excellent job of explaining where the various parts of the Grade Soda watch were made. Using food emoticons, the product description page explains what parts of the timepiece were produced in Switzerland, Japan, Italy, China, and the United States. Actually, the only items made outside of Switzerland/Japan/USA are the dial, which is made in China, and the strap, which is made in Italy. Even the hands are produced in Japan, making this American watch with a Swiss movement mostly Japanese when it comes to the parts used and the place where the watch was assembled.

Advertising Message

Fun to wear and combining a lot of what many people like in mechanical watches today, the Welsbro Grape Soda Chronograph is a rare treat that deserves an encore. It will be interesting to see what Welsbro comes out with next. Retail price for the Welsbro Grape Soda Chronograph was $4,880 USD. Learn more at the Welsbro watches website here.

Advertising Message

Subscribe to our Newsletter