“Swiss Powered. Race Minded” is the logo of Raidillon, a small Belgian watch maker who has a knack for design and a penchant for simplicity. So much simplicity, in fact, that the majority of their watches are more or less the same with various cosmetic changes such as colors, textures, and strap choices. With that said, there are some decent values here and genuinely nice products that suggest to me that Raidillon is a brand that timepiece lovers will be pleased with when considering something enough out of the ordinary.
Meeting with Raidillon, you get the sense that the small company is genuinely enthused about their product and really focused on design. With a racing theme and pretty much all limited editions, it is easy to get behind some of their better designs, especially since each model is limited to 55 pieces. Of course, the enterprising watch lover will quickly realize that asking to customize a bespoke Raidillon watch is probably not at all outside the purview of what they do for customers.
For this hands-on article, I am looking at just two of the Raidillon Chronograph watches, but there are clearly loads of them. This means consumers have a lot of choice, but that can also be bad because it makes choosing the right watch difficult. Then again, it is possible that Raidillon doesn’t want people to find the “perfect” watch, but rather the right one for right now in the hopes that they will come back in the future for more.
Thematically, Raidillon reminds me a whole lot of Zurich, Switzerland-based Maurice de Mauriac. Each of these smaller brands are about using a handsome and versatile case and dial design in as many ways as possible. You can see how when combined with a Swiss ETA Valjoux 7750 automatic chronograph movement you can enjoy a huge number of cool options.
The brushed steel Raidillon Chronograph case is 42mm wide and water resistant to 100 meters. It is rather tall, but it is a sports watch. Over the dial is a sapphire crystal, and I like the large, round chronograph pushers next to the crown. Here, you can see some texturing and details which make the watch a bit more interesting as a result. Again, while the case and overall components are on the simple side, they come across more as “minimalist,” and the quality is pretty decent.
Dial design quality can vary from very nice to not particularly attractive for my tastes. Raidillon offers both very classic dials as well as some more artsy ones. Check out, for example, the Raidillon Maya Chronograph that we covered on aBlogtoWatch here. Another thing that I noticed is that while some dials looks amazing in person others did not. This was more or less down to the particular colors, finishes, and combinations that Raidillon chose for that particular model. Based on my ability to view many of the Raidillon Chronograph models hands-on, I can say that it might be a good idea to see some of these watches in person before buying to ensure that the dial looks as good as it might in online marketing images. The two watches here (that more or less represent the classic and modern side of the designs) are both versions that, in my opinion, offer excellent legibility. One issue, however, is the round date window on one of the watches which feels a bit too small and doesn’t look so elegant.
These two watches are the cream-dialed with Clous de Paris Raidillon Chronograph reference 42-C10-148 and the black, blue, and silver Raidillon Chronograph 42-C10-159 model. Each of them is basically the same watch, but you can appreciate how distinct a look can be achieved with different dials and straps. Raidillon has other models as well with three-hand movements, but in my opinion, the brand right now is all about the fun stuff they can do with these Chronograph models.
Through the rear of the case, you can view the 7750 movement through the sapphire crystal display back, and you’ll find a custom rotor. I get the distinct impression that given money and time, Raidillon would increasingly add more and more custom parts. This is a very common issue with newer brands – insofar as it takes years of investment and research to find new good suppliers to make more unique stuff or to even begin producing things in-house. The benefit of making things in-house is design flexibility and time savings. Smaller brands that entirely rely on suppliers have huge lead times when it comes to waiting for parts to come in and often those parts are never done correctly. Knowing this makes me wonder just how often Raidillon has to send back things like dials because the factory got a little color here or there wrong.
The straps, however, according to Raidillon, are produced in Belgium – which should be much closer to home than where most of the rest of the watch is made. Each of the Raidillon Chronograph watches is part of a limited edition of 55 pieces, which is also a number that is a big part of the brand, not only being very conspicuously designed on to the dial but also in the brand’s own logo. This number comes from the maximum number of cars in a certain race type that Raidillon is apparently inspired by. The brand’s stuff is fun and I recommend checking them out. Price for these and most other versions of the Raidillon Chronograph is 2,990 euros. raidillon.com