Car guys are an interesting bunch. They’re obsessed with mechanics and design, and the truths they seek in a good car are the truths they seek in a good wristwatch. Unfortunately, getting hands on a car-themed automatic watch isn’t exactly an exercise in bargain shopping; the Rolex Daytona, Chopard Mille Miglia and even Tag Heuer Carrera cost thousands. But there’s a fledgling brand on the rise, and recently I spent some quality wrist time Autodromo’s newest watch — the fourth in the line after the successful Monoposto, Veloce and Prototipo models — the Autodromo Stradale ($875).
Right out of the box, the Stradale makes a stylish statement without going overboard. It draws its primary inspiration from small Italian Berlinetta coupes from the ’50s and ’60s, such as the Ferrari 166 or the Alfa Romeo 1900 SS Ghia. The 40mm case is a classic size that works well with a sport coat or a t-shirt and driving shoes, and it’s designed for the gentleman who wants both sophistication and a nod to driving excitement.
Calibre: Miyota 9015
Power reserve: 42+ hours
Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Material: stainless steel
Diameter: 40 millimeters
Crystal: domed sapphire (front), flat sapphire (back)
Black, cream or gray dials with contrasting or non-contrasting outer glass ring; non-luminescent indices
Leather with leather keepers and a stainless steel buckle
The small wire lugs are slightly recessed into the case back, allowing focus to remain on the dial. The two-piece case has a crisp line drawn into its side, like a character line along the body of an Italian 2+2. The dial mimics a vintage racing speedometer without going too far, with characteristics such as a narrow font, an emphasis on bold red, and a minutes hand with a direct connection to a speedometer or tachometer needle. The black dial is the sportiest and closest to an automotive gauge, whereas the cream and gray dials both provide a nice contrast between the inner dial and the outer glass ring.
The domed sapphire crystal pinches downward at the edges and meets with the rising bezel that angles up to a sharp edge. This design creates a unique effect when light bounces off the bezel and the crystal. The case back is also sapphire, superimposed with the Autodromo logo, and one can appreciate the smoothly running Miyota 9015 automatic movement when examined off the wrist.
Rather than a rally-type strap with holes or contrast stitching, the Stradale takes a fresh approach to automotive watch straps. It simulates the leather seating of vintage sports cars by using narrow 18-millimeter leather straps with oblong pads on the strap (towards the lugs). In a world where 20mm tends to be the minimum, it would be easy to criticize the narrowness of the strap, but on the Stradale, the look balances well with the vintage feel.
The price point might seem a bit high for a watch powered by a Japanese Miyota automatic movement, especially considering that Swiss ETA-powered pieces can be found for less. But the overall quality of the Stradale and its original design make it a timepiece worth its value, and the cleanly designed racing aesthetic will inspire even non-car guys. The Stradale continues in the trend of Autodromo’s other watches, developing a solid reputation for an increasingly popular brand.