When I moved from the Midwest to New York, I left behind a 1982 Fiat 124 Spider. (I may have mentioned it once or twice before.) New York City is a lot of things, but what it definitely isn’t is a city that’s conducive to classic car ownership. Still, I miss my car. I miss driving. That’s something Bradley Price felt, too, before he founded Autodromo — a boutique purveyor of automotive-themed watches that has become a darling among both the automotive and watch communities.
Last summer I had a chance to sit down with Price at his Brooklyn studio, where he told me as much: Price hopes that when you look at one of his watches, you think about what it feels like to drive a great car, even if you’re sitting at a desk. With Price’s latest watch, the Monoposto Chronograph, on my wrist for the last couple days, I felt it.
The Monoposto Chronograph is a couple different things. It’s Autodromo’s very first automatic chronograph, sporting a very lovely NE88 movement from Seiko that utilizes both a column wheel and a vertical clutch, making for smooth engagement of the pushers. (It’s a hell of a lot smoother than the similarly priced Valjoux 7750, that’s for sure.) It’s also a special edition, celebrating the fifth anniversary of Autodromo’s founding, and a new iteration of Autodromo’s first automatic watch, the original Monoposto — a limited-edition piece with a cult-like following.
Like the first Monoposto, this new watch takes on the vibe of a vintage Italian car and features a strip of red between ten and eleven o’clock, an homage to the tape racers put on their tachometers back in the days before electronic rev limiters. Everything else is spot on. The pointed shape of the hour hand is a dead ringer for a gauge needle, and the typography looks right at home. The minute and hour markers around the outside of the dial seem to be ripped straight from the Veglia gauges you’d find in a ’60s-era sports car.
And while those gauges are far swankier than those on my lowly Fiat, I still found myself transported to my driving memories by the watch — to the way the needle on my gas gauge bounces around whenever I hit a bump, or the yellow and red markings indicating the rev limiter. Hell, pressing the pusher and watching the chronograph’s seconds hand sweep its way around made me think of the way the 124’s throaty exhaust note crescendos, and the rattling sound the loose gear knob makes when it climbs towards redline.
It isn’t all perfect. At a whopping 14.8mm, the watch is pretty thick, and the red strip, while fun, means the Monoposto isn’t so legible. These are sticking points that would likely turn off some hardcore watch guys, but the Monoposto isn’t really for them. Instead, its idiosyncrasies and auto-inspired details appeal to the person who is in their happy place when sitting behind the wheel of a beloved car. Especially if that car is slightly less than perfect.
Damn, I miss my car.